Text & photos by Katrina Larida
Meet Lorielle Phillips (former Lorielle Fajardo Barlis), a Personal Chef, serial entrepreneur and business owner. Known to her family and friends as Elle, she grew up in Parañaque City and was educated at University of Santo Tomas in España, Manila.
"Life begins the moment you realise you don't have to prove anything to anyone." - Elle Phillips
It was almost two years ago in February, the coldest month of winter in Stockholm when I met Elle Phillips at a dinner organized by The Philippine Embassy of Sweden. I was seated next to her and I could not help but be drawn to her warm and bright spirit. She reminded me of my grandmother who could warm up an entire room because of her big heart and enthusiasm. Every time I go to Elle´s workplace at A House, she is a people magnet, sometimes they rush over to chat with her about work or private life. That´s Elle in a nutshell. She brings warmth around her not just through her personality but also through the Filipino food she makes. I had the pleasure to interview Elle about her entrepreneurial journey for the last three years, which added flavour to her life in Sweden.
Q 1. You have started Elle´s Kusina in 2018, what was the seed that made you start and why did you start it?
"Building a Filipino food brand Elle's Kusina (registered business under Elle Phillips Catering) is my dream. For more than 11 years of working in the airline and hotel industries in Manila and Singapore, I was keen to resume my very successful career to one of the impressive hotels in downtown Stockholm. However, after moving to Sweden with my husband and daughter, I felt that I needed to change my course in life. I took some time off to focus on the next steps in my career. During this time I rediscovered my passion for cooking and that spark made me start creating sumptuous matlåda or lunch boxes for my husband. In Sweden, a typical lunch at work involves eating together with colleagues at the pantry or restaurant. So it did not take long for his colleagues to notice the food I made for him. A few taste sessions later and I was providing lunches for a number of my husband's colleagues, weeks later, the number of orders multiplied. Now, Elle's Kusina has been catering to different corporate events and functions including well known Swedish companies like King and Spotify."
Elle's Kusina has been catering to different corporate events and functions in Stockholm including well known Swedish companies like King and Spotify
"In 2019, I expanded my company and created another brand called Stockholm Charcuterie. It is a Stockholm-based luxury charcuterie company specialising in artisan boxes, styled platters, & lavish grazing tables. This includes gift boxes and stylish catering for private events and functions."
Q 2. You have ventured into a new business in 2020, Tzocolaté. Tell us about it? What is it about and what do you want to accomplish?
"Tzocolaté is a Swedish brand dedicated to bring Filipino fine crafted chocolates to Sweden. The company was founded by me together with a couple of other Filipinas. We promote our Philippine-made artisanal chocolates and distribute these award winning products in Sweden and the rest of Europe."
Q 3. After starting three businesses in a span of three years, what are you going to do NEXT?
"The next stage for Elle’s Kusina is to have its own cafe or bistro. As for Tzocolaté, we want to position ourselves to be the major importer of premium quality and luxurious Filipino brands to Europe. "
Q 4. What about Elle´s Kusina, Stockholm Charcuterie and Tzocolaté most feeds your soul? What small details in your work that make you realize why you do what you do?
"To give inspiration to other Filipinos. I want them to realize that they can also make a difference and that we can be proud of our Filipino culture and heritage."
"I want to give inspiration to other Filipinos. I want them to realize that they can also make a difference and that we can be proud of our Filipino culture and heritage."
Q 5. What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
"Starting my own business was very challenging in the beginning. Being an immigrant, brown-skinned and a woman did not make it easier to be an entrepreneur. I had to find my way around it. I made a lot of mistakes, faced so many challenges and heard a lot of Nos before I started getting recognition. Despite all the challenges, I am so proud of what I have accomplished. "
Q 6. How do you define success?
"To me, success is when you are able to inspire others and have the capacity to help those who seek guidance. It also hits differently when nobody believes in you but proves them wrong."
Q 7. How do you manage failure?
"I never define anything as a failure no matter how bad it may be. I only see it in two ways; an achievement or a lesson learned."
Q 8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in the past year?
"Life begins the moment you realise you don't have to prove anything to anyone."
Q 9. Give us your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
"Don’t give up or be disheartened. One must acknowledge that the learning process will lead to something great. Remember that if a door closes, another door opens somewhere, or even better another big window."