Name: Lana Apolloni
Graduation year: 2008
Program: Postgraduate Diploma in International Hospitality Management
Current position: Owner, Amaretti Pasticceria Italiana
Les Roches alumna Lana Apolloni always enjoyed her pastry and chocolate preparation classes. Now she is putting her passion for pastry into a successful business venture in her native Serbia: Amaretti Pasticceria Italiana.
She explains, “When I finished my postgraduate studies at Les Roches and came back to Serbia, I started to think of a business idea around an Italian pastry shop. I used to live and study in Italy, and that’s where I learned my first pastry recipes from my Italian friends. Later, my pastry classes in Les Roches’ kitchen helped me to nurture my love for preparing desserts.
I combined my hospitality management knowledge from Les Roches with my love for Italy and pastry, and created my first Amaretti in Belgrade in 2012.
The Amaretti concept is of a small pastry shop which operates with the professionalism of a big chain. “The reason for this is that my hospitality education gave me the skills to handle a lot of things myself; like kitchen design, menu engineering, recipe creation and financial management,” Lana says.
“I’ve managed every step of this process, from creating the business plan to recruiting and training my staff.”
Not surprisingly, when Lana is looking for recipe inspiration, it is Italy she turns to. “I travel to Italy quite often and I’ll always be inspired by some traditional Italian dessert that I try in a restaurant or at a friend’s home,” she explains.
“When I was studying in Italy, I used to live in Viareggio, on the coast of Tuscany. The city is famous for its carnival in February, called Carnevale di Viareggio. During that time, I tried many special pastries, called Dolci di Carnevale, which are typically served at this event. They are usually fried, and made with cinnamon or rice, sometimes filled with vanilla cream or covered with melted honey. They are all incredibly tasty!
“Many of my pastries are inspired by Carnevale di Viareggio, a place which has a deeply emotional meaning in my life.“
Spreading the Amaretti magic
To grow her concept, Lana has adapted the traditional franchising approach to make it a more personalized experience.
“The idea is more around selling my know-how to someone who wants to open a similar pastry shop somewhere in the world. I provide full support, from business plan creation, interior design, kitchen design, selection of pastries, staff recruiting to locating potential investors.”
Lana sees such enterprises as being particularly empowering to female entrepreneurs. “For a long time now I’ve been trying to motivate women to start their own businesses. I personally went through all stages from startup, to working during pregnancy, to coping with daily activities while looking after a small baby. I have to admit it is not an easy task for anyone. However, the good side is that the most difficult period at the beginning passes quickly. Once you have a clear business plan and put all your tasks in writing, you will overcome all obstacles.
“I, personally, would like to be a good example to my two daughters; to show them that working hard towards something you love will allow you to live a life you want.”
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