NOVA alumnus Lucia Kane came to the Annandale Campus on September 7 to speak to Chef Wilhelm Jonach’s Culinary I class about her experience as an entrepreneur. Chef Mike Herbert scheduled and arranged the presentation. Chef Benita Wong also attended the presentation.
Kane started her own line of pasta sauces in 2013 and has since grown her business. She started selling her sauces in The Italian Store in Arlington, Virginia, in 2013 and now sells her product in 10 Whole Food stores in Virginia, 26 Safeway stores in California, and 100 Giant Food stores in Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Maryland.
Kane recounted how she started small as a one-person operation, and the challenges she encountered as a startup. She articulated to the class how she used her mother’s recipe for her basic sauce, and how friends and family urged her to produce and sell it commercially. She also spoke about how she sent her products to the Food and Drug Administration for approval and how she was required to take a canning class at Virginia Tech before she could bottle her product. Kane told the class about her search for a suitable commercial kitchen and how she finally found one which met her standards for cleanliness.
NOVA students were impressed with how Kane persevered to get her sauces into stores and her efforts to market her product and grow her business. Many of the students aspire to start their own business and asked her questions about the challenges she faced as a startup. Kane told them about how she registered as a female-owned business, and the Small Business Administration loan program helped her. She also advised them to follow their dreams and when doubters tell them “you’ll never make it,” to use that for motivation.
After Kane’s talk, everyone went into the kitchen for a pasta dinner, where they got to sample her variety of sauces and ask her more about her experiences. A number of students said they were inspired by her experiences and hoped to follow in her footsteps.