We chat to Christopher Crossley, the founder and CEO of Modern Connoisseur Limited. A company offering the finest bespoke luxury lifestyle experiences, financial and investment services.
- Hi Chris, you have had an interesting and varied life, can you please tell us a little about your past and early working career? – Prior to starting Modern Connoisseur Ltd., I had a career in Information technology for 14 years. I’ve worked for major law firms, accounting firms such as Ernst and Young and I was the I.T. engineer contracted to work on the Waterfront Project for the government. That location now houses the International Waterfront Centre and Hyatt Regency Trinidad Hotel. I’m particularly proud of that accomplishment as I was the only I.T. Engineer on the entire project.
- Why did you fall out of love with IT when you obviously have a gift for it and what was it about Marketing, Advertising and Branding that inspired you so much? – It’s not that I fell out of love with I.T., funny enough it wasn’t something I was passionate about to begin with, I’m the one non-techie I.T person you may ever meet. I was one of those people that fell into the cycle of simply having a job, I was good at it and it paid the bills. I had to retrain myself to look at I.T. and my involvement in a new way. I took myself out the picture and looked at how I helped others be more productive and self-sufficient through training them, which changed it completely for me. I enjoyed my role in helping staff be more productive and efficient in using technology for their duties. With Marketing and Branding, I liked taking a product and bringing my vision for it to life. When I started my business however it was more about personal branding for gents. I wanted to help men improve on their personal image so they could excel in their personal life and business.
With no previous experience of this, how difficult was it for you to get started in the industry and what was your first role within it? – Difficult is an understatement, dealing with gents and getting them to understand the value in improving their personal image was one thing, but the fact that as much I was new to the industry, the business itself was something never done in the country (Trinidad and Tobago). You would hear about women doing etiquette training and image management but a man doing it for gents was completely new. Every time I introduced the business the reply was always “What? They do that here” so it took some work to get gents to be interested. I simply began by helping my friends update their wardrobes, doing online etiquette training for gents and I posted a lot of motivational and inspirational quotes online. I even wrote a motivational ebook so people began to know me as that person trying to revive the gentleman lifestyle.
- So moving forward, where did the idea for Modern Connoisseur Ltd come from? – Modern Connoisseur came from me sitting in class one afternoon and observing that it was 95% women. I wanted to know where the men for these educated women to meet was and that’s when I decided to do personal branding for men so they would be encouraged to want more and improve themselves in all areas of their life. With all that I was doing, online mostly at that time, I wasn’t aware of all the people that was observing me and about 7 months into officially starting the business I got a call and I was offered the opportunity to charter jets for clients. Have I ever done that before… No… did I turn down the opportunity… No. I accepted and that opportunity literally catapulted my business into the billion dollar luxury industry. From chartering jets I got offered luxury cars, yachts, luxury goods, real estate, events… every experience that high net worth individuals partake in I was now part of, which is a great group to be around. As Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” so if you spend time with millionaires and billionaires….
- Can you please explain to us what the ethos and USP’s of Modern Connoisseur are? – As an advocate for the gentleman lifestyle I built the brand around those ideals. A brand that’s confident, trustworthy, classy, reflect high standards and of course it does represent having wealth. I would say our USP is that we work on a one on one basis so that we can understand our clients to provide what they want to acquire and the fact that we’re the only company that offers our range of services in the Caribbean.
- What in your opinion is the most premier service or product that you can offer your clients? – Recently we created packages where clients get a car when they purchased our travel card. Just to give you a quick summary, when they purchase one of our travel cards they get flight hours on super midsized jets, ground transportation, accommodations, a car – be it Lamborghini, Aston martin, Bentley, BWM, Land Rover or a Ferrari and to top it off we donate to a charity of their choice. I don’t believe any jet charter service assist their clients to generate funds for their charity or foundation. We believe being able to include that social responsibility presents our clients with more than just the lifestyle experience that they would already have. We can create any bespoke lifestyle experience, but giving back is another kind of service that many clients value greatly.
- Where do you see yourself and the company in 10 years’ time? – As much as I have plans and aspirations for the future I don’t like setting limits. I can say I want to be the top luxury concierge in the Caribbean but then that would be the limit to the size of goal, so as for the next 10 years, the sky is not the limit, I want to let the next 10 years take care of itself as I focus on my own personal development and the growth of the company. I’ll hold firmly on the reins yes, but allow it to grow into what it needs to be.
Thank you for your time Chris and good luck with the business.