Aileen Gilani studied International Hospitality Management at Oxford Brooke’s University, before starting her own business www.luxurystudent.com. Aileen always wanted to be a business owner, and she came up with the unique idea after she left university. Although the site is fairly new, Aileen has already garnered over 100,000 followers through social media and site registrations. As the luxurious side of life is a topic very close to our hearts, we decided to find out more…
An online members club for luxury student life. That’s original! How did the idea come about?
I never joined societies when I was at university. Then, when I joined a Private Members Club in London, I felt like this concept was very similar to the societies at universities. In some ways, they’re societies for adults. I absolutely loved it. But I realised that none had really focused on welcoming only students. So, it was simply a case of putting these ideas together.
But you’re only 25. Shouldn’t you be out having fun, rather than running a business?
Actually, I feel like my uni days are behind me now and I much prefer having early nights. I totally believe that now is the best time to start a business, while I have the energy.
What made you decide to run a business, rather than going into regular employment?
I started this business and created a team because I felt like I couldn’t learn everything based on one role. I am not very patient and I guess I’m quite stubborn, plus I like being known as an Entrepreneur, it sounds pretty cool. My parents have successfully run their business, so that’s also a reason why I wanted to experience the struggle and the satisfaction of owning my own.
There seems to be a misconception that most students have no money, or they really scrimp. What’s your experience been?
Oh no, I believe that this is a total cliché of the student life and students are far from being on a strict budget. Although, I do think that students spend money differently now, even if they are on a budget. Luxury student life is completely achievable, and in demand. If you look down Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, there are younger generations going shopping for an outfit for the following weekend. There are millions of wealthy students but significantly more students who like to experience the luxury lifestyle before reaching their ‘CEO’ career goal. Students spend a lot of money on bars, clubs and restaurants, plus commuting and fashion, because it is even more available now.
Did you study business at university?
Yes, I studied International Hospitality Management at Oxford Brooke’s University and then I did a Graduate Law Diploma at the University of Law. I was constantly surrounded by luxury students. I do miss the university life and I think students need to start their business while they’re studying. I really wish I’d done that.
So tell me a bit more about the site. How many members do you have, and are they all based in London?
We are relaunching the site luxurystudent.com as the Online Private Members Club. These students will need to go through an online application form and, once accepted, they will receive a number of luxury gifts and invitations to industry and social events. A Nespresso Machine is just one of the items these Luxury Students will receive, but they will receive their own P.A, personal stylist, career coach, fitness and health instructor and so much more. And so many luxury gifts. You’ll wish you were a student now!
I hear you have some rather fab brands on board too. How are you managing to create partnerships with such strong brands?
We do, it’s so exciting! We want to gift items to these members during a time when they really want to be cheered up. For example, during exam week we will send everyone a chocolate hamper from Hotel Chocolat. We’ve got so many different university moments that we will cover using luxury brands from Regent Street and Bond Street. I think there is no harm in introducing students to brands and I think it’s even more exciting for brands to gain clients from an early stage in their career. I strongly believe that it’s a win-win situation.
What are your plans for the site for the future?
Oh, so many plans, it’s going to be big! But as a start-up business, who knows what will happen? So, I will go with the flow and see what my Luxury Members want me to achieve. They are my priority right now.