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Purple Dragon

Founder and CEO, Sharai Meyers

interviewed by Nick Garston


"Our families enjoy time together with everyone doing something they love"

Eating well together, exploring the world’s best playroom and giving time back, Purple Dragon is the world’s best family club.

You have sites in Chelsea and Putney.  Do you have any plans to extend elsewhere in London, nationally or even internationally?

Yes, absolutely!  We’re working on a project in the Gulf at the moment, as well as looking at some new sites in London.

Where did the idea behind the original Purple Dragon come from and what inspired you to launch the brand?

I grew up living between Scotland, Scandinavia and Holland and was lucky enough to have lots of freedom to explore (and get into mischief) when I was a child.  It was only when my first son was about 18 months old that I realised how tough raising a family in a big city could be.  Great places for adults that hate children and great places for children that hate adults.  I wanted to create an environment where families could enjoy effortless, guilt-free, happy family time together.  Somewhere that was safe and allowed children some of the freedoms that I loved as a child, where grown-ups also wanted to hang out and join in the fun, or kick back and relax.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in the early days?

Definitely finding a space that would allow us to do all the things we wanted to do and convince a landlord that we were a sustainable business.

Can you give us an idea of a typical day for a member (adult or child or both!) at Purple Dragon?

It really doesn’t matter when you come to the clubs, there’s always an adventure going on.  Our play buddies are the heart of our business and they bring the club to life, whether it’s doing an impromptu game of hide and seek; an epic journey through Jurassic world; a spot of Jedi training; teaching the kids to roll sushi or whizzing up red or green smoothies; marching through the club in a drumming session; creating a masterpiece; or setting off a karaoke challenge.  Typically, the kids come rushing through the door and run straight off to see what games they can get involved with and the grown-ups get a chance to meet friends, get some work done or just relax with a great coffee or juice.  Families come back together to eat (eating well together is really important to us) and our all-day restaurant has everything from comfort food favourites (like our fish pie or our secret recipe popcorn chicken) through to poke bowls and seasonal salads.

There are a dizzying array of activities available for your young members!  Which is the most popular? Are there any activities you’re planning to introduce further down the line?

There’s genuinely something for everyone, whether you love to craft, sing, dance, jump and slide, bake, concoct, explore, build, demolish, make a splash.  Our pool and wet play at Chelsea are really popular and we have a great swimming programme for babies from three months all the way through to life saving courses for older kids.  In our bigger clubs we’ll be bringing in more dedicated areas for our older members.

What do the adult members tell you is their favourite thing about your club?

Being able to get a bit of time back, either as a couple, with friends or as a family.  Having everything under the one roof – art, music, dance, cooking, creative play.  High energy play, the pool, golf simulator, restaurant, library, lounge – lets our families enjoy time together with everyone doing something they love.  Guilt free family time.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

One of our members said recently that it’s clear there’s an ongoing quest for perfection – we’re constantly looking at ways to keep the club fresh and innovative, so hopefully we’ll have a bunch of international and UK clubs and we’ll have expanded our services and launched a product range.

What is the capacity of your clubs?  Do you operate a waiting list?

We’re really lucky to have had a waiting list at Chelsea constantly since we opened.  We look at our flow and membership mix really carefully every week and aim for the clubs to feel buzzy, but not rammed!

If you could give anybody one piece of advice about working with children, what would it be?

Have a sense of humour.

What sets Purple Dragon apart from your competitors?

We’re genuinely for the whole family and we’re passionate about play and great service.

Do you think creating a space that is just as enjoyable for the adults as it is the children, is part of the key to your success?

Definitely, every moment you get with your children is precious time.  Helping families build great memories is what we aim to do.

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