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The Luxury Student: a new private members club made for students

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Aileen Gilani is a 27-year-old law student turned entrepreneur, and is the founder of The Luxury Student, a new private members club specifically catered for students looking for a luxury experience. 

Image credit: Aileen Gilani 

Aileen was pursuing her postgraduate law conversion degree at Oxford Brookes University in 2015 when she fell into the world of lifestyle blogging.

Through blogging, Aileen discovered a niche market of students in the UK, especially international ones, with a passion for high-end brands and luxury living.

Then, began an idea: Aileen developed an online platform, from which she gained a substantial amount of exposure and following from students passionate about the world of luxury.

With help and advice from various business mentors she'd met online, Aileen finally decided to take a courageous step of quitting her law degree to work on turning her platform into a brand.

Aileen’s creative vision came to life in 2017, when she officially launched The Luxury Student - a private members club designed to cater to the luxury needs of students in the UK.

The idea is to provide exclusive brand access and benefits to students interested in luxury items, brands, restaurants and events. The Luxury Student also wishes to strengthen the relationship between students and high-end brands, as students may, more often than not, be overlooked by them.

According to studying-in-uk.org, there were 458,490 international students studying in the UK as of 2017/2018, making the UK the second most popular study destination worldwide.

The biggest international students contributors to the UK are China, India, Pakistani, Egypt, Nigeria and Malaysia.

According to The Luxury Student, the average international visitor in the UK spends £1,341 in a single transaction when shopping in a luxury store, demonstrating the tremendous purchasing power of wealthy international shoppers.

 

Despite these overwhelming statistics, Aileen says her biggest obstacle was to actually sell this idea to these luxury brands.

 

She says: “I was sort of angry at the way students were not given the same treatment [by luxury brands]. My way was actually to approach these brands and say, ‘Look out at Oxford Street, there is a demand from students who can actually afford this kind of lifestyle.’”

The Luxury Student now provides three different types of membership: a one-year option, a new three-year option (which includes a £25 Harvey Nichols voucher) and a bespoke option, which is made to be personally tailored to each member. 

Though London members clubs are often associated with elite Mayfair nightlife, Aileen said: “It’s interesting to see a shift - many of our clients actually say that they’re not so much interested in the nightlife anymore.”

Interestingly, there has been a decline in the nightclub industry in the UK over the past four years. Research shows that a visit to a nightclub has in fact lost some of its appeal due to several shifts in consumer tastes and attitudes, namely: increasing costs of student life, the unstoppable rise of festivals, the rise of dating and entertainment apps such as Tinder and Spotify, and even the fact that “nightclub selfies look dark and not especially aspirational.”

Instead each membership offers access to enticing benefits, such as exclusive access to luxury concept store Maiyet, Harvey Nichols offers, luxury and private store events, a concierge and personal assistant service, beauty treatment requests, travel bookings and many more.

Other prestigious names associated with the Luxury Student include Quaglino’s, Cudino, Mayfair Aesthetics & Beauty, Boudoir Lash, and more. 

The private club also offers monthly meet and greets — a tremendous opportunity for members to network and connect with people with similar interests, lifestyles and backgrounds. 

“Networking is so big nowadays and everyone is sort of screaming at it," Aileen says. She adds that 20% of The Luxury Student's members are masters students, "who are with us for one year. These individuals want to gain more connections.”

Meet and greets are also a great way for Aileen to research, as she gets a first-hand experience with clients to hear about their wants and needs.

“I heard a girl saying she wants to discover quirky cafes around London and I just went, ‘Actually… there’s a cat cafe, and a Harry Potter-themed cafe, and this and that!’ It's interesting.”

There are now just over 500 members of The Luxury Student. Members are London-based, but Aileen hopes to expand nationally and internationally.

“This year we are adding Bath, Bristol, Oxford, Leeds, Edinburgh and other cities around the world to our list,” she says.

She also emphasises that inclusivity of subjects studied is part of the brand: “A lot of our members are studying business, marketing, PR and luxury brand management courses, but we also have the occasional medical student or students that are not studying anything related to luxury, which is always so nice to see.

 

“We also welcome anyone who is going to private institutions such as language schools, drama/acting schools, fashion schools, and part-time students.”

Adaptability towards new trends is of the essence for Aileen, as she strives to ensure that the Luxury Student continues to uphold its standard and vision.

“I feel like I’m constantly brainstorming every day! We hope to grow nationally and internationally, we hope to develop an app and of course, partnering with more luxury brands. I have a book coming up and that will be me talking about all the challenges I’ve come across since I started.” 

 “[The growth we’ve received so far] has been crazy,” said Aileen. [When I started my business], people always told me it’s going to take patience but at first, I was like, ‘No!’ But I’ve come to realise now that it is true.”

We wrapped up our chat discussing student advice. 

“[To anyone with a business idea], my idea was to literally just go for it. I met mentors and made so many connections through LinkedIn. If you have an idea, have fun with; it’s not all Dragon’s Den. You’re at university; use all the resources that you have, your mentors and so on. There is no such thing as ‘failure’; you can always grow and edit. For me ‘failure’ would just mean there’s a need to relaunch [the idea].”

To find out more about the Luxury Student, visit https://www.luxurystudent.com/

Aileen’s book 'From Student To Entrepreneur' is now available for purchase at https://www.luxurystudent.com/product-page/student-to-entrepreneur 

Lead image credit: Aileen Gilani 




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