The King of Soup – StijnWritten by Yin Chan
Between managing Tallore – his delightful Belgian soup kitchen in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong and working as an APAC manager for design agency Studio Dott, the Hive Life team had the pleasure of meeting Stijn Lannoo, an entrepreneurial mastermind.
Brought up in the countryside of Belgium, Stijn realised from a young age that he wanted to explore the world, particularly Asia. Having lived in Chengdu in the past, his move to Hong Kong was seamless and he was able to adapt to the lifestyle and culture quickly. He worked at GreenPan as a Key Account Manager for the Middle East for 4 years, before finally quitting his job for a change of scenery.
As people in Belgium consume soup on a daily basis, Stijn was disappointed in the lack of soup options available in Hong Kong, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. As with any business venture, he was aware of the financial risks and dedication that come hand in hand with starting up your own company, ‘finding the right balance between your business and your social life’ is crucial. When asked about his hardships, Stijn explains the biggest obstacle he has had to overcome is understanding the different legal system and negotiating with a different network or people.
In March 2014, Tallore was opened up in Wan Chai, a Belgian soup shop that stocks salads and wraps. When asked why he chose to open his shop location in Wanchai, Stijn replies ‘I’ve had too many times in my life where I’ve come up with ideas and said to myself ‘I could and should’ but never did. This time, I decided to just go for it.”
It is refreshing to meet an owner who is very down to earth, as Stijn tells us that he is ‘grateful and humble’ for his loyal customer base. When discussing the key to Tallore’s success, he mentions that he adapts to a customer’s needs by providing ‘simple and healthy homemade food’, reminding us that sometimes it is all about the simple pleasures in life.
Another key element of Stijn’s success is that he has built a good team. He says he is extremely proud of them for having such passion in his business and running it as if it were their own. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, however – Stijn says that he spend the first two years of his venture slaving away in his shop, usually from the early morning to the late evening.
This was not due to a shortage of staff, but instead, because he wanted to understand the dynamics of running the business better. Nowadays, Stijn frequents Tallore to catch up with his team over lunch. He ensures that the staff are happy, stating ‘it’s a people’s business, and if you keep your people happy they will take care of you and your business. It’s as simple as that.”
7-17 Amoy Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Edited by Lucy Bent