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Canary Wharf Magazine: Dreams & Ambitions of Entrepreneur Freddie Achom
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Canary Wharf Magazine: Dreams & Ambitions of Entrepreneur Freddie Achom

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  • 1. 12 feature interview a m b i t i o n s & Dreams Recognised as one of the UK’s most powerful business entrepreneurs, there’s more to Freddie Achom, co-owner of the infamous Jalouse nightclub, than meets the eye, as Sim Smith discovers over lunch I ’m sat at one of London’s classic lunchtime tables leafing through the menu and waiting for my interviewee to arrive. Based on the premise that anyone worth interviewing is worth waiting for, I sit back for ten minutes and hone my people-watching skills. Freddie then enters the restaurant greeted by a string of waiters who obviously know him well. On the outside, he is everything you would expect from a nightclub owner – well dressed, polished and gregarious; however, on speaking to him one-to-one, you find there is a lot more to Freddie Achom than champagne and parties.
  • 2. 13 xxxxx feature
  • 3. 14 feature interview He plays many roles from businessman to art enthusiast and father. In fact, he has just returned from his Paris home, having spent the weekend looking after his daughter. By this stage, I had already deduced that he would not quite meet the crazy club owner stereotype expected. Over lunch, he jokes of his curious attraction to all things old, from the antique furniture that fills his homes to the classical architecture of Rome, where he also owns property. Carwise, he is not a fanatic but an enthusiast, an appreciator of great design. As a result of this, his favourite toy is not the latest Lamborghini Murciélago, but an old Ferrari Dino, circa 1970. It is this unusual but captivating side of Freddie that sets him aside from your average entrepreneur, a rare coupling of an artistic spirit and a head for business. Freddie was schooled privately in London but was sent back to Nigeria by his parents to attend university in an attempt to get back to his roots. The plan was for Freddie to become a doctor, but after 18 months of hitting the books, he left study behind and returned to London to work for a firm of surveyors. Freddie then owned a string of businesses from record labels to magazines, and even invested in luxury interiors brands Pedini and Miller kitchens. Property was always a passion of his; he worked in investment property for high net worth individuals, and still develops projects all over the country. So how did he end up in the entertainment industry? “I didn’t wake up one morning and think: ‘I’m going to be a club owner’ ”, but, as with most start-ups, it was a case of right place, right time, right contacts. Freddie met his business partner, Moruf Yoozooph, who approached him with the idea of a club five years ago. Having never worked in the entertainment industry, this presented Freddie with a great learning opportunity and a chance to invest in a long-founded dream; he wanted to build a brand. A small club in Beirut was making big waves on the international club scene at the time. Freddie approached the owners of the Crystal Club in Lebanon with an idea of taking it global. “Crystal hit London with a bang”, Freddie explained. The little club with a big reputation grew until it had clubs opening all over the world from St Tropez to LA and China. After some time, however, the investors wanted to pursue different avenues and the club was sold. After seeing the inner workings of the industry first hand, Freddie felt there was room for improvement: “...most things I think I could do better; otherwise I wouldn’t start.”. He wanted to better the product, the service and the all-important clientèle. The idea was to create a space that could meet the expectations of London’s élite party crowd, somewhere “...your girlfriend could wear her nice shoes to...” after dinner at one of the capital’s top restaurants. Freddie wanted to challenge the negative stereotype of the West End club and re-label the area, starting with Jalouse, as the only place to spend your Saturday night. Why he has succeeded where so many have failed is down to one of his basic business formulas, “I become the client; I go out in the West End”. As opposed to relying on celebrity endorsement to promote the club, Jalouse has developed a reputation all of its own. The club has given the West End its edge back in a move away from commercial holiday music that dominated the scene for much of the Noughties. The members club plays host to an incredible mix of people from stylists to artists, A-List celebrities and DJs; this is “not a members’ club full of suits and ties”. Consequently, Jalouse has not lost out to a new club opening: “we focus on what we do, you have to be authentic and individual”. It is this mantra that has earned him his reputation and has seen him recognised by the likes of the Power List, celebrating the UK’s 100 most powerful business leaders, politicians and entrepreneurs of African and Caribbean heritage, awarded by Gordon Brown. After being asked to join for the last three years, Freddie finally accepted and, in the space of a week, had met Gordon Brown and Bill Clinton. Although it was a great honour to be added to this prestigious list, what really interests Freddie are its workings. It has a purpose and sets an example, acting as a role model and inspiration for younger people. Freddie is testament to the ability to achieve one’s goals. He believes in dreams and ambition and in making things happen. Although he has achieved a lot so far, his sights are still set on future plans, “...that’s where my focus is” and with a club launching in Shanghai this year as well as the launch of a string of restaurants and a hotel launch in 2014, the goals are set high, but there is no doubt that they will be achieved. n For further information on Jalouse and the club’s future openings, please visit www.jalouse.co.uk His favourite toy is not the latest Lamborghini Murciélago, but an old Ferrari Dino, circa 1970

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