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October 21, 2022

Entrepreneur Karen Winstanley Schlimme ’20 Opens Restaurant in the Philippines

By Victoria McNair
Karen Schlimme

In the winter of 2020, Karen Winstanley Schlimme graduated from St. Francis College (SFC), summa cum laude, with a B.S. in business management and a double minor in entrepreneurship and information technology. With her degree in hand, the Hong Kong native was set to return home and resume her work with The Economist Group, a media company headquartered in London with offices worldwide.

Political unrest and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic led Hong Kong to close its borders, forcing Schlimme to change her plans. “Post-graduation, I planned on returning to Hong Kong, but with everything that was going on, I thought camping out in the Philippines would be the best course of action,” she explained.

There was no way for anyone to see the end of the pandemic at its onset. For Schlimme, a few weeks in the Philippines turned into several months. “I was itching to do something,” she acknowledged. “I needed a plan to sustain myself because I was starting to burn through my savings.” As in the United States at the time, businesses in the Philippines were doing their best to adjust to the effects of the pandemic. Many companies were operating but not hiring, and some were letting people go.

Schlimme said she began to notice several small businesses forming within the food and beverage industry. “Some might say it’s silly to start a new business amid a pandemic, but there’s a list of pros,” she noted. “One of them being the cost — creating a business was much cheaper.” Schlimme and her husband, Jan, a professional chef, decided to join the brave entrepreneurs and test the waters. The couple rented a small booth in an open-air food market and sold popular European street food. ARBOUR by Jan From Your Cooking Class was born.

Within five months, ARBOUR grew from a food-market booth to a brick-and-mortar location. “While creating the business plan, I reached out to my former SFC classmates for advice on formation strategies, accounting and financial factors,” Schlimme said. “My husband and I are forever grateful. Opening a restaurant has always been our dream.”

When asked what advice she would pass along to current students looking to get the most out of their SFC experience, Schlimme said, “Networking is an essential tool. It can help you in your business and personal growth.” She went on to say that anyone attending St. Francis College has a considerable networking advantage and encourages everyone to take full advantage. “Don’t wait to attend a networking event; start talking to the people next to you. Put yourself out there!”


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