Deep in the heart of Central, serial entrepreneur Brandon Chau brings sustainable, premium beds and bedding products to life at his bespoke store aimed at helping customers get a healthier night’s sleep.
What’s the inspiration behind Noblesse Lifestyle Group?
I started this business 10 years ago. I was a barrister at the time. So basically I followed in my parent’s footsteps and decided to go into law. But then after I practised for around three to four years I decided that law wasn’t my thing. I’m a bit of an introvert and to be honest I was very stressed out on a daily basis. It wasn’t something I wanted to commit my whole life to so I decided to start my own business instead.
At the time, I was travelling in the UK and I came across a bed store called Viceroy. I thought it was an amazing brand with a long heritage, everything was handmade, natural materials. So I decided to try it out for myself and I fell in love with the product and thought that maybe this was something I could bring to Hong Kong – not only to start a business but to share something I’m deeply fond of.
The idea behind Noblesse is a one-stop shop to provide premium, lifestyle services. We don’t just focus on beds and bedding but also on a range of lifestyle products that focus on wellbeing and sustainability.
It’s quite a leap from barrister to entrepreneur. Was it an easy transition?
It was actually very difficult. Being a barrister is very challenging. You have to be very sharp, very on point. You need a lot of time for preparation. But starting a business is challenging as well – but on a very different level. You have to come up with a concept and then realise that concept – taking it from on paper to an actual business.
In the beginning I had to pitch my ideas to the brands and then persuade them to let me be their authorised dealer. Then come up with a business model, a business plan and then hire a team, train the team – none of that was easy. Of course our type of products were rare in the market 10 years ago – a natural, luxury bed product. It took some time for people to fully accept and realise the value of our products. Helping them to improve their sleep but also being conscious of the environment.
We have around 40 staff across all the different businesses. Human Resources is one of the most challenging aspects of the business. But I am very grateful over the years to have gathered a very good team. The key to every business is having a good team to run it.
When do you get your best ideas?
Travelling. Most of my business ideas come while I’m travelling, if not all actually. For example, the concept for Attire House came while I was travelling through Italy, France, Japan and Korea. Because when you stay too long in one place your mindset gets stuck.
In 2016, you established Attire House. Can you elaborate a little on the concept?
It arose out of my passion for classic menswear – and the whole gentlemanly lifestyle. I wanted to do something a bit different. Not just start a store, but an iconic concept that is all inclusive. So, it includes a cocktail bar, a cigar lounge, a barber shop and a bespoke menswear shop all under the same roof. That was the original idea.
The business has gone through a lot of changes over the years. This concept was the first of its kind in Hong Kong, I would say. It’s not easy running a concept of all different operations in one place. First of all you need a large space, with a large rent. Then, you have different teams with different hours. So, over the years we decided to spin off into different concepts. So the bar has its own separate identity, Bar Deluxe. It’s a direct collaboration with a bar from Tokyo, run by this legendary bartender in Japan. We’ve been running it for five years now and it is becoming a popular spot to go to.
The barber shop has merged with the cigar lounge, which is called Bertie’s Cigars. We started it around four years ago. It’s actually named after the son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, King Edward VII, nicknamed Bertie. He was a bit of a rakish prince back in the day and he liked smoking cigars and horse racing. So, the club is cheekily named after him.
“The Attire House concept arose out of my passion for classic menswear – and the whole gentlemanly lifestyle. It includes a cocktail bar, a cigar lounge, a barber shop and a bespoke menswear shop all under the same roof”
How do you fit family life – and raising three boys – into your busy schedule?
It’s crazy! That’s the straightforward answer. But to be honest, I think the pandemic helped a bit because it gave people the chance to spend more time at home, for which I am quite grateful. I got to know my sons a bit more, especially my young son, because he just turned three. The pandemic has been a huge disruption, but it also means I spend more time with my children. And the bond has definitely deepened over the past two years.
“The pandemic has been a huge disruption but it also means I spend more time with my children. And the bond has definitely deepened over the past two years”
In 2021, you branched out again with Beyond Sleep. How does it tie in with sustainability and wellness?
This is our tenth year, so we decided to come up with a new concept – Beyond Sleep. Our angle has always been on the history, the luxury and craftsmanship but it’s also important that they are all natural products. So, not only good for health but also good for the environment. There has always been a sustainability angle that we haven’t pushed enough. Sleep is very important. Something that people sometimes overlook. But part of that are the concepts of sustainability and wellness. This is what we want to focus on with our new branding.
For the front of the shop we have done something different, to make it look like a sleep museum. So you see a wall with all the natural materials that are used with our products. Where the products are from and how they are processed can be fully explained. There is full transparency with our products that we can share with our customers. People want to know what they’re buying. We also have a sleep pod. It looks like a spaceship. Within that sleep pod, not only can you experience our bed, it’s also fully integrated with smart-code technology – so you can voice control the temperature, the lighting, the air purifier, the music and the mood.
Then we have the pillow bar, kind of inspired by my own cocktail bar, with more than 30 different pillows. Mostly from Switzerland and Austria, all made with natural materials. Different people, with different sleeping habits, require different pillows.
What was the last cigar you smoked?
Cigars are my vice. One of my less healthy habits. The last cigar I smoked is a small brand called Juan Lopez. It’s a double robusto, which is quite a fat cigar.
You also practice martial arts. What is your secret to being a good martial artist?
I’ve been interested in martial arts for a very long time. My parents sent me to learn kung fu because they were worried I might get bullied. I became fascinated with Bruce Lee. I watched his movies and I became blown away. He’s still my idol. Now I practice Wing Chun. A traditional martial art popularised by Ip Man and also learned by Bruce Lee. Martial arts helps me to focus. It’s like a moving meditation. It helps you to reset. It’s something you need to do on a regular basis and practice and practice and practice. You need perseverance.
Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Andy Wan; Venue: Beyond Sleep