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Growing Trends: Artisans as entrepreneurs (Part 2 of 3)

With the right dose of creativity and resourcefulness, craft masters can bring out their inner entrepreneurs.
By Portia Silva and Rocel Ann Junio |

Artisans going into business were once likened to square pegs being made to fit into round holes. They were painted as pure artists creating only for themselves, not in the least bit interested in selling their ware to the public. That is changing now, as artisans are well aware of the demand for quality products that machines could only approximate.

Three artisans-turned-entrepreneurs—a producer of handmade paper, a cheesemaker, and a chocolatier—share how they deal with that misconception, exceed expectations, and earn money from doing what they love. For this week, let\\\'s talk about Paulene Chocolats Suisses.

Many would attribute her love for chocolates to the fact that she is half-Swiss, but chef and chocolatier Katrina Paulene Kuhn-Alcantara says her being half-Filipino made her persevere to learn the art of chocolate-making. Aside from her ancestry, Kuhn-Alcantara mastered making chocolates by studying at the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and by working for various restaurants in the cities of Nice and Corsica, also in France.

Working alongside pastry chef Arnel Vicenero, Alcantara molded her truffles and pralines to perfection, consequently opening Paulene Chocolats Suisses in December 2009. “I don’t want to serve something that, as they say, is half-baked. Literally. There are a lot of chocolate brands out there and with this variety in the market, you have to come up with something unique. Ours, for one, is personalized in a lot of ways,” she says.

Paulene Chocolats are exquisitely handmade, and to meet her extremely high Parisian standards, Alcantara makes use of nothing but imported ingredients in creating 12 different flavors for each of the truffles and pralines of her brand.

The chocolates are made by Alcantara and Vicenero themselves, as they have yet to “find people with the same passion and who can execute the orders without guidance.” She reckons this is because chocolate-making is tedious: “One wrong ingredient or a sudden temperature change can ruin the product”

Kuhn-Alcantara admits that the brand is serving a niche market, the kind that flock high-end hotels and shopping places.

Although Kuhn-Alcantara has yet to open a store dedicated solely to Paulene Chocolats, orders have been streaming all-year round. “Who doesn’t love chocolates? Everyone gets excited when they open a box,” she says.

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PAULENE CHOCOLATS SUISSES

Many would attribute her love for chocolates to the fact that she is half-Swiss, but chef and chocolatier Katrina Paulene Kuhn-Alcantara says her being half-Filipino made her persevere to learn the art of chocolate-making. Aside from her ancestry, Kuhn-Alcantara mastered making chocolates by studying at the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and by working for various restaurants in the cities of Nice and Corsica, also in France.

Working alongside pastry chef Arnel Vicenero, Alcantara molded her truffles and pralines to perfection, consequently opening Paulene Chocolats Suisses in December 2009. “I don’t want to serve something that, as they say, is half-baked. Literally. There are a lot of chocolate brands out there and with this variety in the market, you have to come up with something unique. Ours, for one, is personalized in a lot of ways,” she says.

Paulene Chocolats are exquisitely handmade, and to meet her extremely high Parisian standards, Alcantara makes use of nothing but imported ingredients in creating 12 different flavors for each of the truffles and pralines of her brand.

The chocolates are made by Alcantara and Vicenero themselves, as they have yet to “find people with the same passion and who can execute the orders without guidance.” She reckons this is because chocolate-making is tedious: “One wrong ingredient or a sudden temperature change can ruin the product”

Kuhn-Alcantara admits that the brand is serving a niche market, the kind that flock high-end hotels and shopping places.

Although Kuhn-Alcantara has yet to open a store dedicated solely to Paulene Chocolats, orders have been streaming all-year round. “Who doesn’t love chocolates? Everyone gets excited when they open a box,” she says.

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