Aaron Simpson, co-founder of lifestyle luxury brand Quintessentially Group, on his 24-hour global concierge service, plans for a private floating club at the 2012 Olympics, and painting an heiress’ plane pink.
Point of Origin: In the film business, I was looking after the folk coming into town … these film stars that had no idea what to do in London. As a producer, I would end up taking them out and making them feel cozy and at home in various clubs and restaurants around town, and then the concept came to me. I said to a couple of my partners who were doing sensible things like being lawyers and restaurants owners, “Lets set this up.” We thought it would be a very simple 100-person, 100-member club, but now it’s in 52 countries.
What did you do before? I was a film producer once upon a time. I landed in a company called Scala, which was run by Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell, and they produced films like Backbeat, Interview With a Vampire, and Crying Game. I became the head of development, and I did films like Fever Pitch and Michael Collins. PurpleLounge.com, it’s now one of the biggest poker rooms in Europe, and I just set that up one day, I can’t remember why since I’m not particularly much of a gambler. And 3-D gaming on WorldofMyown.com, because I think it’s going to be the next big thing. It’s this concept for a 3-D world, you can go on there and download anything, any game, free of charge.
Favorite Hangs: Istanbul is one of the best cities in the world because it’s East meets West. The Bosporus is gorgeous, and the Turks are hospitable, lovely people. I love Hong Kong because it’s a city city. New York and London are great cities, but Hong Kong is unashamedly a city. It is the most overbuilt, densely populated place on earth, but is unbelievably functional as a city. It is dirty like a city should be, it is rude like a city should be, and it’s very sexy like a city should be. Cape Town is the crossroads between the beautiful worlds. You’ve got the Pacific meeting the Indian Ocean, the Table Mountain meeting the sea, and it is absolutely stunning.
Do you know everyone who’s anyone in every major city? We have about 38,000 contracted suppliers, but yes, you can boil a city down to around 300 or 400 people that you have to get to know, and we hopefully know them.
This allows your concierge service to fulfill every possible desire? Yes, within reason and within legal bounds in the United States of America.
What’s within reason? There must be some outlandish requests. Imaginative, I think is the word. For an heiresses’ 21st birthday, we painted a private jet pink, inside and outside, and toured the world with her. It wasn’t top-pick paint, it was a little unusual.
Other Businesses: We’re well known for our concierge, but we’re actually a group of 16 businesses. Quintessentially Group runs in 52 countries with thousands of employees. We have a publishing division, a wine division, a model agency, it’s endless. I’ve got investments in telecom companies like TreeFriend.com, and I’m doing a few conceptual things with other businesses. We work with a lot of the world’s leading luxury houses to come up with new ideas. We just launched Quintessentially Bespoke, which has up to 150 designers and luxury brands, and we’re producing products at a limited edition that are unique and unusual. It’s too much to delve into each individual business.
Anything else in the works? I’m all about conceptualizing and coming up with new ideas. We’re working on a hotel club chain at the moment, that we’re launching hopefully next year, and we’re also working on the world’s first floating private club, which is going to be launching 2012 at the Olympics. It will have some of the world’s best bars and clubs on it.
Do you think it’s important to give back? Yes, we have our own charity foundation which we set up about a year ago, and I’m a trustee on it. Obviously we throw a lot of big events; we do auctions, our members raise a lot of cash and our staff raises a lot of cash, so I think last year we raised a couple of million pounds. This year we’re hoping to do that at least, and raise it mainly for children’s charities that give hope or add to learning or medical research.
Any plans to take over the world? Without Mini-Me? Well, world domination … I actually don’t care about this world, it’s the next one I think we have to worry about. This one is a fun one, but the next one’s really important.
What are you doing tomorrow? Going to Istanbul for five days.