Up Close & Personal with Respected Supper Club Founder Tamsin Lonsdale
In the nightclub business, promoters often get as much respect as mosquitos, roaches or fleas. They are often seen by nightclub owners as necessary evils who are overpaid, consume their booze and sometimes fill up their club’s valuable real estate with non-spending guests. Not the case with highly-respected Tamsin Lonsdale, a non-traditional promoter, who is producing top-notch events attracting highly-successful and wealthy clientele to some of the best restaurants, nightclubs and venues around the world. She is a true entrepreneur and founder of a members only association called The Supper Club and the newly launched Lonsdale Productions, which focuses on event production for private individuals and corporations. We asked her all about her success.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): What is the Supper Club and how did it start? In other words, how did a nice girl like you end up in places like this?
Tamsin Lonsdale (TL): The Supper Club is a members only social association bringing together talented and like-minded individuals for exclusive salon-style soirees in alluring locales across the globe. Our members are stylish, sophisticated and engaging. They range from executives, producers and actors to designers, philanthropists, editors and entrepreneurs, all of whom enjoy indulging in the finer things in life. They are the industry leaders and rising stars and passionate about life. They make the perfect guests.
Reviving the traditional ways of entertaining in a fresh, unconventional way, we host multiple private events each month at the newest restaurants and clubs in the city and gorgeous estates and residencies, and least likely of places to charm the charismatic and connected crowd that makes up our membership base. With high-style, a discerning palate, and a unique sense of whimsy, The Supper Club is now serving London, New York, Los Angeles, and beyond.
NCC: How did you come up with the idea for The Supper Club?
TL: I love entertaining, meeting new people, getting dressed up, great foods and fine wines. The Supper Club was a natural extension of all these passions. I’ve been lucky enough to make a career out of it. When I moved back to London, I really missed connecting with new and interesting people over food and conversations at the dinner parties we used to throw. Most of the socializing in London was done at busy clubs and noisy bars, and quite quickly this grew stale. I strived for more out of my evenings, and decided to bring back the ‘art of the dinner party’, salon style, where I’d gather an eclectic group of friends to break bread around the dinner table who didn’t know each other, but should.
The first dinner I hosted was at my father’s apartment in London. He had a huge wooden dining table, which was perfect for a Supper Club feast. I invited seven girlfriends to help me cook (we made fish pie, one of my favorite dishes!) and each invited a guy. The dinner was a hit. Soonafter I was so busy throwing my dinner parties, that I decided to move them to local restaurants with fantastic private dining rooms and let the Chefs do the cooking so I could focus on the hosting. At the beginning, it was very much a hobby, and organically grew into a fully-fledged business when I realized that there was a huge gap in the market for what I was doing and that no one else was providing the same service. Having studied Business at University, I’d always planned on opening my own business, and this was the perfect opportunity. Soon after, I left my fashion styling career and opened The Supper Club, and have never looked back.
NCC: You mostly deal in restaurants or nightclubs that also serve food. How do you choose the clubs and restaurants you hold your events in and why does it work for the venue?
TL: Three key ingredients, all equally as important; atmosphere, food and service.
The venue has to have a nice ambience, with great lighting (low lit) and comfortable seating. Its also important they can accommodate large groups, as we need to sit all of our guests around the same table (usually 24). If the restaurant has a lovely private dining room, that’s a bonus. Food is very important, our members are real foodies and enjoy the best of the best when it comes to dining and eating out. They look to The Supper Cub to take them to the newest spots in town, and treat them to the best dishes. Usually I work direct with the chef to come up with a special menu, showcasing their favorite dishes, I also like to have a food tasting prior to my events to make sure the food is up to scratch. Service is also so important, the waiters need to be attentive and friendly. The restaurants needs to be excited about having our event, in order to come away with the best dining experience possible. We also have a preference to new restaurants and spaces. I love to go into a spot before it’s even officially opened to the public.
The Supper Club Dinner Party at Pera Soho, NY
NCC: What cities are you operating in? Where will you expand to?
TL: New York, Los Angeles and London are our main cities. In addition, we are planning to host events this year in the following US cities; Hamptons, Miami and Vegas and in 2013 branching out to host events in Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Austin, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. We are also just launching a new series of holiday/travel events for our members called ‘The Supper Club Passport Series’ where we will take members to three exotic holiday destinations a year. Next on our list is Argentina for a polo holiday, Uruguay to Punta Del Este for a beach holiday, Morocco for an adventure and Dominican Republic for more fun in the sun
NCC: What’s coming up next?
TL: I recently launched LP, Lonsdale Productions, as the sister company to The Supper Club, which focuses on conceptualizing, planning and executing events for private individuals, brands and corporations, offering turn-key event production as well as individual services to include audience development, sourcing venues, planning themes, recommending caterers and advising on entertainment. So now everyone can have their own five star Supper Club experience without actually having to become a member.
Most recently, LP events have included organizing the official aftershow party for the opening night of Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones fine art exhibition entitled "Faces, Time and Places" at JIMMY Bar in NYC, and creating an intimate concert experience for a Fortune 500 multinational financial services company with special performance by Gavin DeGraw in Hollywood.
The Supper Club also has a busy summer season ahead filled with all manner of unique and inspiring events to include Bi-Coastal Wimbledon Brunch Viewing Parties with Hendricks’s Gin, Polo Day Out at the California Polo Club with UrbanDaddy, an Olympics Opening Party with Plymouth and Beefeater 24 Gin, and a trip to the Wildlife Waystation to meet the tigers, lions and bears.
NCC: What have you learned and how have you adjusted to this insight?
TL: How valuable one’s network is and the importance in maintaining that little black book of contacts (with restaurant, clubs, brands, press and tastemakers).
To prioritize, so many amazing opportunities come our way for events and partnerships, but its impossible to do them all, so we just select the best.
NCC: What did you do before you created this concept?
TL: I was a fashion stylist working for Edward Enninful and Italian Vogue, traveling from NY to LA and London, for editorial shoots, and working with amazing photographers such as Steven Meisel and make up artists, like Pat McGrath, as well as styling music videos and commercials. It was through my fashion work that I first got a taste for living in NY and loved it. A couple of years later, I moved to NY (from London) to set up the next chapter of The Supper Club.
NCC: How do you pick your members?
TL: We are very selective with whom we invite to join the club. We look for qualities such as talent, charisma, charm, style, and wit. If they are international, that’s a plus, as we operate out of 3 cities, NY, LA and London, and host pop-up events in Miami, Vegas and further afield (planning a trip to Uruguay in Nov!). We look for people that can bring value to The Supper Club table and of course they need to have two referrals from existing members, and then meet with Carla Bate, our Events & Membership Director and myself, for the final stamp of approval. We also make sure to have a sprinkling of people from all different industries in our club. For example at any one time if you were to join us for a dinner, you would be rubbing shoulders with a philanthropist, jewelry designer, entrepreneur, financier, doctor, athlete, movie star, musician, magazine mogul, restaurateur, to name just a few!
Our members are the rising stars and the industry leaders, passionate about life, and the perfect dinner party companion. I like to pick those with a glint in their eyes, the ones if at a party you’d be naturally drawn to, like moths to a flame.
NCC: How do you come up with themes for the events?
TL: Designing themes for our events is one of the favorite parts of my job. I have so many ideas and am inspired by numerous things, from reading a book to seeing an advertising campaign. Vintage fashion illustrations and old movie posters really inspire me. I can build a whole event based on just one image. I also love to curate events around the seasons and social calendar happenings, from a Summer Pool Party and Winter Wonderland Ball to a NY Fashion Week After Party and Earth Day celebration. The limit is my imagination.
Some of my favorite past event themes have been a Mad Hatter’s Easter Tea Party, a ‘Dinner with the Devil’ Halloween Party, ‘The Beautiful & The Damned’ Birthday Party, Jazz Picnic on Sugar Hill, Royal Wedding themed-parties and the Marie Antoinette Soiree, where guests were given huge Victorian style wigs and the Cake Boss made a special multi-layered Marie Antoinette cake which aired on TV.
We also always strive to bring content to our events, so there’s more to them than just eating and drinking. Bringing in cultural elements from music, fashion, art, film and charity, also helps us set the precedent for the overall theme.