Personal Finance

Anesu Sangoda: Shopping for the wealthy is my job

anesu

Anesu Sagonda, who lives in London manages a luxury lifestyle management business, Sagonda and Company. PHOTO | POOL

In the world of luxury, not every wealthy person knows where to shop, what to buy, or has time to differentiate classic items from niche products. And that is why they turn to Anesu Nomthandazo, a luxury personal shopper.

On a day-to-day basis, she helps the rich achieve a luxury lifestyle. She assists them to buy the world’s best luxury products and services. She talks more about her business with BDLife.

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When and why did you decide to venture into the business of luxury?

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When the credit crunch hit in 2008, I decided to change direction.

I was working in investment banking, constantly surrounded by wealthy individuals, and I saw at first hand their opulent lifestyles. But they were different from those I had grown up seeing, similarly wealthy people in Africa. I realised that the difference was a lack of exposure or awareness of the many options that money could buy. And that’s when I saw the opportunity to educate them through lifestyle management.

What does your job entail as a luxury expert?

I align the right product or service to clients. This involves staying on top of luxury trends and sifting out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the best products and services. I maintain a network of key contacts so that I can pull anything off at short notice for my clients.

Do you think there is a gap in the market when it comes to the wealthy understanding luxury?

Most definitely. In my banking days, I would come across African colleagues coming to Europe for the first time or invited to an event which they weren’t sure how to navigate.

Putting people at ease and making them feel comfortable with the appropriate etiquette or dress code was something I often found myself doing. This happened often enough to get me seizing the opportunity.

How do you get customers?

Most are referrals or personal recommendations. I strategically chose my first couple of clients, who then went on to recommend friends, family, and colleagues from similar backgrounds.

What do you buy for them?

Sourcing hard-to-find handbags, jewellery, watches, and wines. Organising lavish weekend breaks and cruises. One-off access to some of London’s most exclusive private members clubs. Consulting on home interiors such as the finest linen, cutlery, or stemware. Ticketing to major sporting events such as Wimbledon and the National Basketball Association (NBA) or obtaining the best seats for sold-out performances at the Royal Opera House.

What are the top things that the wealthy are yearning for in this pandemic?

The pandemic has made people more aware of how precious life is and the need to live their best lives. With people spending so much time working from home, I have been inundated with inquiries around luxury items for the home: the best bedding, loungewear, and dinnerware.

People have realised they need to enjoy their wealth now rather than save it for a rainy day which may never come. Tomorrow is not promised.

As someone who understands luxury, what are your favourite cities for:

Food: Tokyo, Paris, and New York

Design: Copenhagen, Milan, and Tokyo

Culture: Jerusalem, Rome, and Kyoto

Fashion: Los Angeles, London, Barcelona

If you could be fluent in any language, what would it be and why?

French. I enjoyed learning it at school and would like to learn to speak it at a proficient level. Pre-Covid, I enjoyed frequent weekend trips to Paris for good food and fashion. Being able to fluently speak French would help make the experience a lot more pleasurable.

Travelling can be exhausting. What are your key tips for planning a stress-free trip?

The majority of my travel is for business, and I am always highly organised, have a back-up and, most importantly, I plan something fun at the end for motivation.

We’re sitting next to you on the plane. What are you wearing, and which travel essentials are in your carry-on?

A comfortable pair of slacks, shirt, blazer, and pumps. My travel essentials would include face spritz, a silk eye masque, earplugs and Aesop’s travel kit with seven travel-sized essentials— rinse-free hand wash, hand balm, facial hydrating masque, face moisturiser, lip cream, mouth wash and toothpaste.

Aesop is a fabulous Australian brand known for its sharp ingredients that combine plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients of the finest quality. As I’m getting older, it's all about the quality of ingredients and experiences.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a luxury entrepreneur?

There are no guarantees of consistent business. You always have to create opportunities for yourself and evolve with the market or to suit client needs.

How do you continue to engage with your members during Covid-19?

Depending on the inquiry, by Zoom, telephone calls, or e-mails. I also send out newsletters summarising for my corporate clients the most relevant content from my YouTube channel.

What are some of the most important lessons you've learned from working with people from different cultures?

Need for sensitivity, patience, kindness, and awareness because your way is not the only right way to do things. There is always room to learn new things.

Which country is currently at the top of your must-visit list?

I have always wanted to visit Uruguay and see the sunrise over the South Atlantic Ocean from the Punta del Este. But the truth is that I am looking forward to returning to Kenya to celebrate my best friend’s wedding in Kisumu.