VALERIE KUSTER (33) | Creative Culinary Entrepreneur (Don’t box her in with labels), Rotterdam
Our Connection: I’ve been following the Dutch Photographer Sophia van den Hoek ever since I saw the beautiful pictures of Aloha Bar she took late last year. Last week, I came across her Instagram and stumbled upon a photo of Valerie Kuster. I checked out Valerie’s profile and become interested in the work she does for the Schieblock Dakcafé. The café is open on Wednesdays from 10:00am-04:00 pm, it is situated on the rooftop of a 7th storey building; housing many entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Friday morning, I met Valerie at the Schieblock Dakcafé, I was mesmerised by the location. We sat and observed the volunteers maintaining the garden; whilst also taking in the surrounding views of the Rotterdam skyline. We had so much more in common than I had imagined, we talked about perfectionism, making connections, broadening our perspectives through travel, minimalism, and entrepreneurship.
How did you get your first job after graduating? Love bought me to London. My English boyfriend owned a Jazz Bar and Restaurant, and I was lucky enough to do freelance work for him related to their Marketing and PR activities. I also did a one year part-time diploma related to Arts and Culture, which was a great addition to my commercial Bachelor that I had gained here in Rotterdam. I lived in London for seven years, gaining experience at a few steady jobs, but when the recession hit England and the Architecture firm I was working for had to downsize by 75%, it was no longer fun and games. The atmosphere wasn’t going to change, so I chose to take a sabbatical. Those six months turned into a year, which I spent exploring South America and working with local chefs learning their national cuisine. I became familiar with the language and fascinated by Peruvian cuisine.
“I am a great connector! Not just in the kitchen, combining different ingredients to make something new and delicious; but, I also enjoy connecting people and businesses. The combinations I make often result in special and unique collaborations.”
What would be an important commercial lesson that you’ve learnt? I am someone that goes the extra mile for clients, in the past this meant I would often far exceed my clients expectations which made projects much more time consuming and therefore more costly. Now being more experienced, I have better commercial insight of how to maintain more balance within my working life.
Which aspect of your job makes you the happiest? It would be the creative freedom I have within my work, being given just a few key themes from a client and working out a concept from there. I love the connections that I see, and can make. I’ve connected many people and businesses. I worked for a German Design Agency that were looking to build their portfolio in Rotterdam but had no pre-existing network here. I helped them to work with small local initiatives, creating a boost for both the agency and the locals. I was also involved with the launch of the hotel Citizen M. I worked together with local online influencers and bloggers, to create ambassadors and exciting new partnerships through personal conversations.
Valerie, what would be your piece of advice for young people like me, who want to make a good start to their careers?
Dutchies: Valerie cooks up a storm every Wednesday (10:00am-04:00pm) with ingredients from the DakAkker, Rotterdam. More info
Series: 30 Cups of Tea – The Job Hunt Project
I want to see if I can get a bill paying, degree related (B. Media, Information and Communication) job in the Rotterdam area, The Netherlands within the following 30 days. Just in time, before I’m no longer officially a student and the government cuts financial ties. I will drink tea with 30 different Marketing/Communications professionals to bring me one step closer to a paid contract. Each professional will bring me in contact with someone outside of my own network. Let the challenge begin!