Michelle St. Clair offers concierge services for high net worth individuals and families
Three years ago, Michelle St. Clair stumbled across an advertisement that changed her life. It touted a private, men-only concierge service –and St. Clair was intrigued.
“I started researching, and realized there’s this entire industry for private concierge services, predominantly in New York and Los Angeles,” she says. “But there was nothing here in San Diego. It was a real void.”
So the former event planner set out to fill it. She launched Elite Lifestyle Management, a private concierge service for ultra high net worth individuals and families, in 2015. Since then, the company has handled everything from international property scouting and relocation services for investors entering the United States on EB5 visas to removing scorpions from guest houses, and now provides bundled services to corporations who offer ELM memberships as a perk to employees. The company offers round the clock service to its clients, who purchase memberships in exchange for a private, discreet advisor who can charter a jet, score courtside seats to the Lakers, or cure a bespoke experience – all in a moment’s notice.
At first, the business grew slowly. St.Clair launched ELM while her two young daughters, now aged 7 and 4, were quite young, but the company really took off when she began putting in the work in the wake of her divorce. She is now up to a team of five full-time employees, who handle requests ranging from hiring a driver for a family’s beekeeper (seriously) to securing tickets to Broadway’s Hamilton three hours before curtain call.
ELM’s reputation and client base have been largely built by word of mouth referrals from some of San Diego’s most illustrious families – though one particularly well-connected businessman, she says, ripped one of the company’s advertisements from a local magazine and called her immediately “to make sure we were real people.” (He is now a loyal, longtime client.) Most of the firm’s clients are scattered throughout San Diego County, though they also work with families in New York, Las Vegas, and the Southeast.
In addition to its core high-worth and corporate clients, ELM is now working hand in glove with some of San Diego’s most well-heeled developers (including The Casey Brown Company and, yes, Papa Doug Manchester) to be staged on location at the companies’ new lifestyle concept work spaces. And while St. Clair definitely has expansion in her sights, “We don’t ever want to grow so big that we lose the personal touch we’re known for,” she says.
She credits her resourcefulness to a childhood dotted with regular uprooting. Her mother, she says, moved St. Clair and her siblings every year, often more frequently. Sometimes, the moves were local; other times, they were the opposite (like a year spent living with an uncle in Kansas City). She rarely stayed at the same school longer than an academic year – certainly not long enough to forge lasting friendships – and, as a result, took care of herself from an early age. The experience left her resolute and street smart, and she’s now firmly committed to paying her success forward by mentoring youth on emotional intelligence skills through San Diego nonprofit The Collective Access.
And despite her company’s meteoric rise, St. Clair seems most proud of the example she’s modeling for her young daughters. When asked what she wants to grow up to be, her oldest daughter replies without hesitation (spoilers ahead: it’s Mom). “My kids wanting to be me? There’s nothing more inspiring,” St. Clair says. “That alone makes my job worth it.”