Shapers: Janine & Gideon Stone

Show aired on 12th September 2015

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Punchy start to the programme. Good morning, this is me, Elliot Moss, on Jazz FM with Jazz Shapers. Jazz Shapers is the place where, as I’ve said before to you, thank you very much for joining me, where music and business collide. Where the world of jazz, blues and soul comes together with people who are shaping the world of business right now. I call them Business Shapers. My Business Shapers today are Gideon and Janine Stone. They live in the beautiful world of interior design. They have been doing it for many, many years and you are going to be hearing all about what they have been doing and who they have been doing it with. In addition to hearing from Gideon and Janine you will also be hearing from our partners at Mischon de Reya, some words of advice for your business. And on top of all of that, of course, I promise you some great music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul, including Nina Simone, Art Blakey and this from Mr Jamie Cullum.

Don’t You Know from Mr Jamie Cullum. This is Jazz Shapers and my Business Shapers today that are joining me are, as I billed earlier, Janine Stone and Gideon Stone. You will tell from their name, well you may not tell they maybe brother and sister, they are not, they are husband and wife, and Janine, both of you in fact, welcome, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Janine, you founded this lovely business in 1987 that seems like a long time ago but you look so young I quickly add before Gideon punches me.

Janine
Yes. Thank you so much Elliot.

Elliott Moss
Janine, tell me a little bit about what happened when you set that business up in 1987. Why did you do it and how did it come about?

Janine
Well the reason I set it up is because I love interior design, I always loved it. Since the age of nine I always been interested in changing my bedroom and the colours and helping my parents, who are both very creative, my father’s an interior designer, so I have always worked with him and it just started from there really. And then as I got older it was a natural thing for me to do and I love it. You know, it is something that I really, really love doing.

Elliot Moss
Now, your family is from the Lebanon and I believe that, I have been told on good authority apparently, your mother was a dress designer is that right as well?

Janine
Yes, absolutely.

Elliot Moss
And your father the interior designer.

Janine
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Beautiful stuff, I mean, having been to Lebanon and the environ just a few times, amazing things. That sense of exoticism is obviously very appealing and it wasn’t exotic to you it was just your childhood. Right now, are you still, even many years later, are you still influenced by that childhood memory of things or has your design aesthetic developed and moved left and moved right? How has it gone? How have you informed the kind of work that you do?

Janine
I think it has developed. I mean I have travelled all over Europe and all over the world really so, no, I don’t say… I don’t think of Lebanon as my…

Elliot Moss
Your influence?

Janine
…my influence, no, not really.

Elliot Moss
Okay. Now, talking of influences Gideon, so you two meet and you have the crazy idea of going into business together. In 1998 you then come into the business. At that point you come, I think, as a managing director. Is that right? Is that a fair description?

Gideon
Yeah, we negotiated hard but eventually I was able to persuade Janine that, you know, I might be good in that role. No, in fact, the true story is that I was in the background all the time because we had been together for over thirty years and I have always seen first-hand Janine working very closely with her clients and, you know, this business is, it’s business but it’s also social because our clients are private individuals and you get very close with them during a project that might last two or three years and it was at a time in my life where, in fact, my own business, I had just sold one of my businesses and we decided it would be great to work together. Our idea was not to grow a business but in fact to keep it small and do small projects and I saw that that could be a really nice lifestyle decision but, as you know, sometimes, you know, success gets in the way and we sort of started to build the business from there. Prior to me joining, Janine did exclusively interior design and when I came into the business on a full-time basis we developed the model into architecture, interior design and construction so we could actually provide our clients with, if you like, a full turnkey solution from start to finish. Janine being the creative aspect of the business and myself looking after the technical aspects of the business, the marketing, but mainly managing the projects from a commercial financial point of view and the construction side of the business.

Elliot Moss
And almost seventeen years later they are still with me here together, and smiling, I might add. You are going to hear a lot more from my Business Shapers today, that’s Gideon and Janine Stone, the Janine Stone interior designer, and architecture, and construction and lots of other things as well. Very clever too. Time for some music, this is Nina Simone and I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.

Nina Simone with I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free. I am talking to Gideon and Janine Stone today and Gideon, actually you did the opposite of sort of doing the free thing you came and worked with your wife, you are a husband and wife team, you have been for now I guess almost, what is it, almost twenty years, not quite, about seventeen years. Your background, as you said, is well you mention another business, I believe it was property. Is that right, one of the businesses?

Gideon
Yes, certainly I have been involved in property in terms of owning property and developing it for the rental market. But, no, my, just prior to joining Janine in fact I was involved with a project with BP Oil and it was to do with, sounds very boring and a million miles away, I mean interior design and architecture, but it was automated refuelling.

Elliot Moss
Ah, that well known pastime, automated refuelling, it just rolls off the tongue.

Gideon
Exactly. Exactly. So when that sort of came to an end and I had a business interest in the company that was running that project it was a natural opportunity to think where do we go as a business as a family and, in fact, the beauty about this industry and the reason I am involved in it is unlike other companies and other industries I have been involved with where it is all about selling a product and a commodity, here you really are influencing people’s lives and it’s very touching, I know it’s easy to say because ultimately there is a commercial side to any business and you have got to make money and you have got to develop but there is no better feeling than knowing deep down that you have actually made a massive impact on a family’s life and, you know, they will remember you for the rest of their lives, hopefully for good reasons. And, you know, just handing over a project which is an entire house and going on a journey with the family and knowing that you were instrumental in helping them reach where they wanted to be. Usually we are appointed at a good time in their lives because they’ve perhaps just sold out or they are doing very well so it’s all happy times and that’s a nice thing about this business.

Elliot Moss
And I want to hear more about how that, although we talked about automated refuelling and I was slightly, slightly rude, I want to find out how that kind of discipline has impacted you, Janine, as you thought about your business way back when but we are going to come to that in a moment. Latest travel first in a couple of minutes and before that some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mischon de Reya for your business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss. Every Saturday I get the chance to meet someone who is shaping the world of business. It starts at 9.00am, it finishes at 10.00, it is your one hour of business served up with some beautiful music and makes the pill go down very, very nicely. If you have missed any programmes iTunes is your destination, put in the words ‘Jazz’ and ‘Shapers’ and you will find us there. My Business Shapers today are Gideon and Janine Stone, we have been talking about automated refuelling, a little bit, and the previous life of Gideon before he took on the business in 1998 working with his wife, Janine, who had founded it in 1987. Now, Janine, when Gideon had, you know we talked about Gideon being in the background and he talked about it, when he came in more fully in ’98 what changed for you, if anything, was there a direct you know, benefit, she is smiling now she’s going to say all sorts of truthful and naughty things. Was there a…?

Janine
It was a dramatic change.

Elliot Moss
Was it? In what way? Tell me about that.

Janine
Because when Gideon joined the business he managed to take it to a completely different level. You know, introducing in-house architecture, in-house building you know, management. Obviously he… I’m on the creative side so I am what you call the ‘fluffy’ people, you know so it is creating interior design, nice interiors.

Elliot Moss
And I understand that and you’re not… the fluffy person who is always the person who actually without the breakthroughs…

Janine
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…you wouldn’t have the beauty and the incredible product at the end of it. But that impact of hard business for you, apart from it being important and taking it…

Janine
I just let him get on with it really. I mean as far as Gideon is concerned he is his own man.

Elliot Moss
Really. But you had to work together and this is…

Janine
Yeah, we do work together but we… as well as working together we do work separately. You know I have my team of designers and technicians. He has got his team of all the other side of the business which is the marketing, the architecture, the building side so we work very well together in that respect. We don’t work together but you know we work side-by-side really.

Elliot Moss
I’m going to get into their marriage very shortly. I am only joking, you are going to be hearing lots more from my Business Shapers today, Janine and Gideon Stone. Time for some music, this is the wonderfully uplifting, I promise you it will put a smile on your face, Art Blakey with Cubano Chant.

Cubano Chant from Art Blakey. Janine, you were talking before and it is always hard to describe a relationship in work let alone when you layer over that the fact that you are married. It isn’t War of the Roses where in the film they fight each other but…

Janine
Not at all.

Elliot Moss
…not at all. You do things separately. But tell me, what is like when you are married to someone who you are working with, for you?

Janine
For me? I mean it works really well, I mean I hope I am not unique in this but it works really well. We both have our own sides, you know, in the business, we don’t step on each other’s toes. We don’t, I don’t get involved in what Gideon is doing, he doesn’t get involved with what I am doing which is very important and we get on really well you know.

Elliot Moss
And in terms of giving each advice, Gideon, I imagine obviously you have different areas of expertise, obviously? The creative person versus probably the more business orientated and here is what the process is and here is the systems and the services might look like. What is like when Janine says ‘but you just don’t understand this process Gideon’ or ‘you just don’t know what this client’s like’; ‘let me help you understand’. Are you humble enough? Are you big enough to go ‘okay’? Or what?

Gideon
Okay. The truth or not the truth?

Elliot Moss
Oh we want the truth, always.

Gideon
The truth. The truth is we get on brilliantly well. That is the truth and in fact, as Janine pointed out, we do have very clearly separate interests, it’s not just areas of responsibility, it’s separate interests. I… that being said, I think there is an expression that if you put a monkey in the kitchen for long enough he will learn how to cook, and you can’t be around what I have been around without having your own ideas so certainly I like to express those in terms of the creative aspect and Janine has a very intuitive understanding of people and very often our business is about how we not only manage the projects but manage the clients to ensure that it all goes smoothly and Janine is very good at, you know, being able to do that as well. So she is perhaps doing herself a little disservice by saying she just keeps to the interior design side. She has a view on everything, she reads clients like no-one else in the business. I mean, I should say the business is fifty people so we need to give a lot of credit to the management structure that really allows this business to tick over and, you know, is lubricated by their skills and abilities. So it is not just a case of Janine handling one aspect and myself handling the other but if there was a demarcation, Janine is certainly creative and I am much more about operational aspects of the delivery.

Elliot Moss
But what it sounds like is that appreciation of both of each other’s skills, both of each other’s abilities, is almost hardwired and there is trust because of course you are married and you have the same agenda which is happy life and a nice income, and why not. Lots more coming up in my final chat unfortunately with Gideon and Janine today plus you will be hearing from Astrud Gilberto. That’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

Take Me To Aruanda, apparently it’s paradise I’ve been told reliably by Nick our Producer, from Astrud Gilberto. If he’s wrong by the way you can blame him, not me. Gideon and Janine you are with me for just a little bit longer. Thinking about what your business stands for and you have alluded to the fifty people in the business and you have an international client base and you are very proud of your product. What are the other things that are important to you in doing business in this world because you have the opportunity to do good things? I believe you created the Young Interior Designer Awards a while ago, I don’t know if that it is still something that you are doing but beyond that what are the things that you aim to do that leave a nice feeling about the Stones and about this wonderful business? Gideon?

Gideon
Okay, well let me pick up on the point you just mentioned, the Young Interior Designer Award, that was something that Janine and I spoke about for quite some time before we did it. We were thinking about what we could be involved with which has a charitable or a, you know, a… whatever the term is…

Elliot Moss
A giving back, a giving back component.

Gideon
You are absolutely right, we created the Young Interior Designer Award, that was something that we made a three year commitment to and we set it up and we run it for three years. We are not currently running it but there are plans to bring it back because it was so successful and its aim really was to try and put a spotlight on the fantastic design talent that is coming through the University system. That was fifty Universities that participated in it and the first prize for the winning designer was £10,000 and six months work experience at Janine Stone. The last winner, in fact, is still working and doing extremely well with us so it was a great thing to be involved with and we look forward probably next year to reintroducing it.

Elliot Moss
Tell me Janine in terms of all these people that you are managing – do you have a way of doing things? Do you have… are you very involving, are you more the diva who says ‘this is the way it should be done and follow me’.

Janine
No certainly I am no diva me. No, no, no. I am really part of the team, that’s how I am, genuinely. They are my colleagues so I am not a diva, I am not going in the office ordering people about, I don’t get angry about things and that’s how I’ve always been you know so I suppose it’s because I have started on my own a long time ago so I have still got that mentality even though I have fifty staff, I still have the mentality of a one man band so I rely a lot on myself as well so and I delegate but very nicely you know so it goes very smoothly.

Elliot Moss
Good, I am looking forward to getting a job with you. It sounds perfect. Just before I let you go there is one last question before I ask you about your song choice. The future. You said you’ve scaled, you have got bigger obviously, the one man band you mentioned Janine, you are now fifty people big, you came in and obviously introduced a bunch of stuff Gideon. What are the next five/ten years looking like for you now? What are the plans?

Gideon
It’s an interesting question. Our market place wasn’t as badly affected as some, you know with the financial collapse and we are now seeing property you know, surging back into the sort of price range that it was you know, back in 2007 but we quite like the scale of the business. We think it is about right. We might grow a little bit but the heart of it we enjoy what we want to do and it might sound boring but I think just maintaining good quality and good standards is really where our next five year aspiration sits at.

Elliot Moss
There is nothing wrong with that, it sounds like a good plan, you are at the top of your business, you are giving people great joy and employing fifty good people too. All good stuff. Thank you so much both of you for joining me today. Just before I let you go, Janine, what’s the song choice and why have you chosen it?

Janine
Well, I have chosen Anita Baker, Giving You Everything That I Got, because I do play it when I hand over a property I always play music in the background and I think this title is really very good for me because it brings a little tear in their eye and you know, it sets the mood, it’s got a really good atmosphere to the interior, it’s all about music, candles, the smells, the flowers, it’s very important so that’s my best track.

Elliot Moss
Wow. I had better employ you because I want that theatre in my house. Listen, thank you so much. Here it is, I hope you enjoy it and thanks for joining me today.

Janine
Thank you Elliot, thank you.

Elliot Moss
That was Giving You the Best That I Got from Anita Baker, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Janine Stone who joined Gideon, her husband. They were creativity and business together personified since they’ve started working in the business almost twenty years ago. A properly deep, mutual understanding of how each other works and what each other brings to the party but also the sense of separation when it was required within the business – a really great partnership to be looking at. Thank you very much for joining me, I hope you enjoyed it. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s 9.00am, next Saturday morning here on Jazz FM. In the meantime though stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Janine Stone is one of Britain’s foremost interior designers, her internationally acclaimed practice is supported by a team of 50 architects, designers, craftsmen, project managers, technicians and builders; each dedicated to striving for excellence. Her husband, Gideon, is Managing Director of the practice.

With offices in London, Manchester, Moscow and Milan, the firm specialises in developing, refurbishing, designing and building extraordinary private residences for the most discerning clients.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

Eventually I was able to persuade Janine that, you know, I might be a good Managing Director.

It’s business but it’s also social because our clients are private individuals and you get close to them during a project that might last two or three years.

I used to be working on my own, with no-one in the background to explain everything to. It was really bad. Go, go, go.

We don’t work together but we work side-by-side.

If you put a monkey in the kitchen for long enough he will learn how to cook.

Janine has a very intuitive understanding of people – she reads clients like no-one else in the business.

Our market place wasn’t as badly affected as some, with the financial collapse – we are now seeing property surging back into the sort of price range that it was back in 2007.

It might sound boring but I think just maintaining good quality and good standards is really where our next five year aspiration sits.