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Kitri Spotlight: Gemma Boner

#KITRIspotlight
Meet our creative, intelligent and simply brilliant friends who inspire KITRI in every single way.  



Meet Gemma Boner, UK membership director of SOHO House, the coveted members club for the creative industries. Ambitious, funny and incredibly well-connected, Gemma has carved out an inspirational career over the last twelve years, heading up PR & events for the likes of Whistles and Topman. We sat down with Gemma amidst the launch of the new White City House to talk career changes and the importance of women sticking together in the creative industries.

You’ve had such an interesting career! Can you tell us a bit more about your career path so far?
After I finished my degree, I decided to move to the other side of the world in pursuit of nothing more than a good time. In between learning to surf and sunbathing I managed to bag myself a role as Artist Liaison for a music Festival. The artists could barely understand my Scouse accent but it was a great experience! I then moved to London where I spent 12 years working for Whistles and Topman, heading up their events and PR. These roles encompassed everything from organising London Fashion Week shows, producing look books, casting models, curating and hosting events, launching sub brands and collaborations and of course promoting the brand globally. I even had an insight into the music world when we launched a music platform called CTRL, so there was never a dull moment. About 6 months ago I decided that I wanted to try something new, I'm a big believer in fate and it was at this exact time that the Soho House role came up. It was a move out of PR, but it was a business that I had admired for years and it was a role that encompassed many of the skills I had built up over the last decade so I decide to make Soho House my new home. 


Your current role as Membership Director of Soho House is quite different from your previous roles - what inspired that change?
It is and it isn’t. This role is all about keeping your finger on the pulse of the creative scene, so my fashion and music background comes in very handy. At first I worried about not seeing all of the contacts I had built up over the years but it quickly became apparent that I actually see them more; they use our houses, they come to our events and they are part of our creative community. I had been thinking about a career change, so when this role came around I thought it was fate. I had been a member of Soho House for ten years, I used the Houses so much I’m pretty sure my friends thought I had shares in the place so it was an easy decision when I said yes!

Your job sounds amazing! What do you love most about it?
One of the main things I love doing is connecting people, so this role is perfect for that. I hosted a dinner on International Women’s Day for ten inspiring female members and the night was totally magical, these women are now talking about working on all sorts of exciting projects together. It is nights like this that make me feel very lucky. Oh and it helps that I get to work in the most beautiful surroundings!

What does your typical day look like?  
No day is ever the same! I try to split my time equally between all the Houses in the UK so this means I get to see and meet new people every day, which can take you down different paths. One routine I try to stick to is reading the nightly reports on the way to work so I am abreast of what has happened in the clubs on the previous day. I try to meet as many members as possible so that we are receiving constant feedback to ensure that they are getting the most out of their membership. One day I could be discussing an event idea, the next meeting new potential new committee members, the next helping to launch a new House. 


What’s your top tip for women starting their careers in the creative industry?
 
Meet and be inspired by as many people as possible. The best ideas can come from the most random of places or people. I think that all creatives should work collaboratively as well, I think there has been a real movement with women in the past two years that has been incredible. Instead of feeling threatened by strong women around them, woman are giving each other leg ups, they are joining forces, they are collaborating - they are becoming powerhouses of their industries. It is so amazing to see and I am a massive advocate of this, support, support, support! Be a mentor and a mentee and pay it forward.

Who inspires you?
I have a group of strong amazing women around me from my mum, to Jane Shepherdson (ex Whistles CEO) who helped me with my confidence, to my amazing friends some of whom who are juggling mega careers and children (big up to those mamas). I am also in awe of some of our Under 27 committee Soho House members too, they are taking life by the balls and taking every opportunity possible… they too inspire me every day.



Your job must take you to some of the most beautiful spaces that London (and the world!) has to offer, any you could recommend? 
At the moment I just look after the nine UK based houses but for holidays Istanbul is one of my favourite Soho Houses, the whole city is incredible. The building is the old American Embassy so it all feels very grand. The surrounding areas have so much vibrancy, and the food and people are great too. I’ve also just come back from a flying visit to Villa Lena in Tuscany, I’m getting married in a few weeks and it is (for now) a bit of a hidden gem. They offer residency to creatives from all backgrounds so it has a real authentic bohemian vibe to it.  

Your style is always so fresh, do you have a go-to workwear outfit?
I have quite a masculine aesthetic in the day, baggy trousers, crisp white tee and a trainer or loafer. Then at night my go to is a jumpsuit I think I have one in every colour and pattern possible. Oh I also love a proper suit, obviously not the corporate type, think Bianca Jagger not Melanie Griffith!

We love to see you wearing KITRI! Why did you choose these pieces? 
The Camilla Check Wrap Jacket is perfect as it goes with everything and will work well for any meetings I have in the day. I chose the Mayara Cornflower PJ Blouse so that I can wear it with the Wheeldon Cornflower PJ Trousers because I love a matching two-piece! The Lorna Pinstripe Jumpsuit was such an obvious choice for me - choosing one thing to wear is far easier than two.

 Any tips for keeping your wardrobe fun and stylish yet office friendly? 
You can’t go wrong with a crisp white shirt, add a bit of fun with an oversize earring. Invest in a great blazer too, even with trainers you can still look professional if you have the right blazer. One main tip is make sure you feel comfortable at all times as if you don’t feel confident in what you are wearing this will affect you whole day.  

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? 
When I was younger, I used to be a showjumper and we couldn’t afford a proper horse box so I took my horse to events in an old converted Warburton’s bread van…minus the bread!

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