Lara Ham is president of the Board of Quintessentially club for South Eastern Europe, the most luxurious lifestyle club in the world. Quintessentially Lifestyle was launched in London in December 2000 by co-founders Aaron Simpson, Ben Elliot and Paul Drummond and today it represents the global concierge club without any real competition.
W: How do you see yourself? Can you present yourself to our reading public, with regard to the work you do?
We solve problems and fulfill the wishes of our members. Our main purpose is to make life easier for members. Whether they want a football signed by Messi, for themselves or their children, or a reservation at Chiltern Firehouse, currently the most popular restaurants in London, currently it’s very hard to get a reservation for there, or to arrange a romantic dinner on the glacier, with a view of the polar lights, we are there to turn it into reality everything that our members can imagine. We help banks in servicing their clients private banking, helping marketing departments with the handling of gifts such as jerseys of football or basketball world players, organize meet&greet meetings, for the winners of their prize games tickets for Justin Bieber or One Direction concerts. For owners of large corporations we organize presence in closed events where they can meet with the editors and journalist of the Financial Times and 20 leaders of biggest corporation or we can organize lodge in the Vienna Opera, tickets for the New Year’s concert in Vienna.
On the other hand we are a mediator, between people who get stuck in communication or business, we help them to find a solution. We help our members to find the necessary information or contact the person they themselves might not reach. And through Q Education we assist in the registration of the world’s best colleges. For example Q Viavi has a network of the world’s best doctors and clinics, in any field of medicine. ELEQT is our internal social network for business and private networking where all our members can connect with each other.
We also have a luxury delivery service for our members, at the best prices we can order the iPhone 6 or men’s Louis Vuitton briefcases, we will organize delivery of Barbies as a Christmas gift for daughters friend in Milan, Loro Piano gloves for father and Frey Wille bracelet for mother…
W: Which required qualifications person must have to find employment in Quintessentially?
Primarily a person must be a mature, communicative, cosmopolitan, well-traveled and be able to follow the trends, whether it is about fashion, culture or politics. It is important that he is “operative” and that means quick and focused on the practical solution of the problem. I would particularly emphasize the responsibility and discretion. The members trust is our most important task because we become as a part of their family.
W: Why is Quintessentially so special?
Quintessentially Lifestyle is the only global concierge club in the world and as such there is no competition. We have offices, that provide general support for our clients, in more than 60 countries around the world. We are in direct contact with the entire world for 24 hours during 365 days. We do not give up on perfection, there is no ‘impossible’ situation for us. Recently, even in Croatia, we witnessed the emerge of small local concierge company, but they are not our real competition, because only we can cover the whole world, and we have the local knowledge and proven suppliers anywhere in the world.
W: Quintessentially takes special care of famous stars like Vitali Klitschko, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger? What exactly are their membership status and what kind of services you provide for them?
All of our celebrity members have Elite member status. That means at least five personal assistants i.e. Lifestyle Managers in countries of their choice. On the other hand, they may have Global Elite status, which means that they have Lifestyle Manager in every country in the world, where we have an office. The amount of services we provide depends from person to person. People of such high profile have their own assistants which then use our services. Our Brand Ambassador during Eurobasket was basketball player Dejan Bodiroga and I hope that during next year Eurobasket championship, which partially will be held in Croatia, we will have a new Croatian ambassador.
We approached to Croatian stars/celebrities, with an offer to become our members because we want to have such an ambassador in Croatia. As I mentioned earlier, we actually work with the managers and we make their work easier and we make their services and also the life of celebrities better. Of course we do not overtake managerial part of job, this is still their part of job although through Q Music we can connect them with world famous producers, allowing them to open the door to an international career. Of course, it is up to them to seize this opportunity.
W: Do you have members in Croatia and what are they interests?
Our Croatian members are totally in trend with members we have around the world. They have similar interests, go into the same restaurants, hotels, share the same lifestyle. They travel a lot. Through the mutual cooperation we can understand our member, the better we know them we can help them pro-actively and suggest some things that we think it would be interesting or useful. The process of getting to know member takes time, and we are constantly learning and I hope that our members learn from us as we follow trends on a daily basis, and we suggest solutions specifically tailored for each of them.
W: How do you comment actual global financial crisis and how it reflects on your business or do you have wealthy members that you bypass the crisis?
Unfortunately, we also feel the stagnation and crisis in the region and share the pain and the downturn of the economy in the region. Quintessentially, on global level, have significant number of Elite members, simply they do not fell the crisis. In 2012, our office has received award for the best office in the world because we had the highest number of new Elite members in proportion to the population. In fact, fully consistent with the research of the world luxury brands, I can say that the number of elite members remained the same, while the number of secondary and elementary level members reduced.
In this economic crisis, our office is unfortunately in the worst positions. Since we opened an office in the region, the crisis is growing and the situation is deteriorating. But I believe that the company such as ours, need to keep their position in this region, because we still represent the region, and therefore Croatia and it’s 5 stars hotels, restaurants and destinations on the world map. In 2013 we managed to lobby Croatia as the Top destination on world in Conde Nest Traveller. Also, I have only one meeting with Minister for Tourism, Mr. Ostojic but I would like to have more collaboration in this area.
W: Your occupation includes lot of traveling. Which country left a special impression on you when we have culture and gastronomy on mind?
As for the culture and the food, Italy, Spain and Provence are at the top for me, as they have such an impressive culture and history, which is reflected in every aspect of life, and lifestyle. As far as natural beauty, then this is definitely Africa. Maybe it is objective because I was growing up in the Central African Republic. When you grow up in complete harmony with nature, and you have lion, elephant or monkey for “your own pet” it just changed yours appreciation and respect of nature and realize how is it important that the man should be in harmony with its environment, generally.
W: Where Quintessentially have offices in the world?
Quintessentially has offices in more than 60 cities worldwide. Our main offices are in London, New York, Dubai and Hong Kong. From Italy, Austria, Germany to Nepal, Australia, Morocco, Argentina, wherever you are, we can help. For a country where we do not have an office, neighbour office will take over or one of four above-mentioned main offices.
W: For a couple of years, your office cooperate with a portal Wish.hr, which opened a special section where it presents all the beautiful destinations, hotels, restaurants and current events in the world. What do you as a company and you personally attracted the portal for culture of life?
Portal Wish.hr is a leading lifestyle portal in Croatia, and we are very pleased that such a successful and long cooperate, especially because we share the same group of readers. Wish.hr have such interesting articles, we sometimes have is great for recommendations, both for us personally and for our members. We particularly like access readers and a selection of topics.
W: You are always well dressed? What are the brands that you love? Can you find the time for yourself with this dynamic job and how you prefer to spend your time?
I have such a wonderful and dynamic job since I am a dynamic person, always on the move, so it suits me well. This is a job that consists of travel and meetings and no office hours. There is no ‘walk in’ office where you need to be very disciplined. My two first boss, Bill Clinton and unfortunately late Dr. Drnovsek taught me to hold tight schedule, daily, weekly, monthly. So I raise my children, very strictly, I think we need to have boundaries and to know that within these limits is our space where we can freely express themselves. The freedom with respect for the other and different and others rights and freedoms.
I strive to maintain physical fitness, and stick to the familiar sayings, that is a healthy mind in a healthy body. Since I spend a lot of time at work, sometimes it comes down to the basics, but also the most important things are quality care for face and body, and stay in the fresh air whenever I have free time.
I have some brands that I particularly like, but I really like fashion, I appreciate the personal style, with a few accessories that are trendy, but still have to fit into that personal style, and not ‘cover’ person, but just to complemented overall look.