Since opening in 1995, Soho House has become the epitome of cool, urban chic, redefining the private club concept by attracting a trendy crowd of creative types and a long list of celebs such as Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, Rihanna, George Clooney, Madonna or Scarlett Johansson. As well as opening satellite “houses” in Notting Hill, Shoreditch and Chiswick, it has exported its own brand of exclusiveness abroad, with outposts in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Berlin, Chicago, Toronto, Istanbul, and soon in Oxford and White City. The Soho House brand has also grown into a group that includes restaurants (Cecconi’s, Pizza East, brasseries…), cinemas (Electric and Aubin), spas (Cowshed) and hotels (Babington House, Dean Street Town House…) Here, its founder Nick Jones (53) reveals some of his personality traits and talks to Chic-Londres about his life as an entrepreneur.
The character trait that defines me best Drive
The trait I most deplore in myself Impatience
The trait I’m most proud of My creative force
If I could change something in the way I look I wouldn’t… I’m quite happy with the way I look!
The quality I appreciate most in a man Straightforwardness
The quality I appreciate most in a woman The same
My definition of friendship A friend is someone you can rely on and have a good laugh with.
My definition of love Someone you love is a person you want to be with all the time.
Faults in others or myself that Iam most likely to forgive All of them: I’m forgiving- no one’s perfect.
My favourite hobbies Eating, drinking and napping.
The values I try to live by Hard work and honesty.
My idea of happiness Being with my family, a good bottle of red wine and a roast chicken.
What makes me really angry Usually small things which don’t deserve the anger they get.
My dream job as a kid Restaurants… I’ve always wanted to do this.
What I like most in the world Getting up in the morning.
My most treasured possession None- I’m not very possessive.
My favourite place Home in Oxfordshire.
My definition of success Happiness.
My biggest achievement so far Still being in business.
My biggest regret I don’t have any- I just get over them…
How I would like to die Without pain.
How I would like to be remembered As someone who was not a bad bloke.
My current state of mind Positive.
My motto “Less is more”.
And a few more questions…
How did Soho House grow from one club to an international group and could you foresee it would be so successful? Absolutely not, and I still don’t! But the first one worked and because I’m ambitious, I thought that we should keep trying, so I opened Babington House, and it worked too, and so on. But it’s been over 17 years now, so it was not instant- it did take time.
How do you explain the success of Soho House as a brand? We have a great team of people working here and we have a great bunch of members. I also guess there’s a bit of luck there and hopefully, I understand what people want.
What makes a good entrepreneur? I suppose a good entrepreneur is someone who’s uncompromising and very much sees things in black and white, although I’m now trying to bring a bit of grey into it. I also think that in order to succeed, it’s really important to believe in yourself.
What have been the biggest hurdles you’ve had to face so far? There have been many, from unions to adapting to different rules in different countries… But if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it and there would be too much competition.
How do you see Soho House in ten years? I’d like to open more and more houses -maybe another 20- in more and more cities as well as maintain and improve all the houses we already have. And hopefully I’ll still be there- I’ve no intention of going, unless my shareholders don’t want me around anymore!
What’s a typical week for you? On average, I spend a couple of days in London and travel three nights a week -wherever we’re opening new clubs or have existing ones. My job is very much about visiting existing sites and doing deals on new ones. This is a 24 hours, seven days a week business, so I’m pretty much always available.
You’ve left North Kensington for Oxfordshire: how different is your life now? It’s nicer, because I can I escape. I can’t pop to the Electric, there’s no outside distraction so I’m at home and really enjoying it.
What’s your next project? We’re opening Pizza East in Kentish Town in August and a Soho House in Toronto in September. I’m very lucky that I’ve got the best job.