Based in Beverly Hills, California, Christopher King is a 38-year old, self-made millionaire-twice over. He made his first million in real estate, lost it all in the crash of 2008 and then started over, with a focus on following his passions.
Q: You have enjoyed a great deal of success in your life. What makes for success, in your view?
A. To me, the most important thing in creating success is your mindset. You have to believe that anything is possible. For someone like me, without a business degree or college education, I had to let go of the limiting beliefs that I had about this and just believe in myself and not let anyone else tell me otherwise. When you have this kind of outlook on life, you can achieve anything. You will have failures along the way, but it is that ability to pivot and turn those failures into fuel that will set you apart from everyone else. When you pair this resilient, positive mindset with genuine passion and hard work, you can achieve any goal.
Q. What is the most successful business you have had to date?
A. That is a tough question since my definition of success has changed for me over the years. In the beginning, it was about surviving. Since I didn’t come from money, I had to find a way to create the life I wanted. Once I had become successful, then I started refining my philosophy. When I created my fortune the second time around, I decided I needed to start enjoying my life more. I had a family and wanted them to live an incredible life, full of travel and experiences. I realized it was time to apply what I had learned in business and use it towards the ventures and interests that I was most passionate about.
At the beginning of my early success in real estate, it was just about gross revenue, and I had had plenty of that. But now that I have evolved, it is more about creating an efficient business with more focus on my passion and myself.
It is also about following my dreams. I think we work so hard for the future that we tend to forget to live in the present. I have changed a lot in my life. I believe that you can pursue your dreams and still have everything. I am not going to say it isn’t a lot of work but I love every minute of doing it.
Two companies of mine that showcase this is King of Clubs wine and my latest venture, CCCXXXIII (pronounced three-thirty-three,) my new luxury company.
Q. Tell me more about King of Clubs wine.
A. King of Clubs wine came out of my long-standing passion for wine. I caught the red obsession early and have been an avid collector of great vintages from all around the world ever since. I’ve been privileged to visit hundreds of wineries in many countries. A close from of mind, the restauranteur, Justin Anthony and I, worked with Robert Mondavi Jr., who comes from one of the Napa Valley wine-making families and we produced a premier wine priced at over $799 a bottle. It now has cult status (as predicted by Forbes Magazine) and has built up a strong following among wine lovers.
Q. What was the inspiration for your latest venture, CCCXXXIII?
A. Traveling the world and walking through historic buildings, museums and galleries, I was always intrigued by the quality and craftsmanship that were put into these works of art. As I created my fortune and started investing in luxury goods, I paid a lot of attention to every detail that was put into every product. I had a deep appreciate for these fine details and how that was communicated. But as a consumer and businessman, I also saw the limitations that a lot of designers face in order to maintain profit margins and create large scale productions. The idea started out as a passion project to create a custom briefcase for me that fit my needs for business but still fit my image and style. When I realized I wasn’t the only one that craved this level of craftsmanship, I decided to think a little bigger.
With the same approach, I had when I started King of Clubs wine; I wanted to see if I could create a small collection of luxury products without limitations. I wanted to design with function in mind, but without sacrificing style and design. No shortcuts, no financial or corporate constraints. I wanted to create functional objects of art, where every detail counted. By creating such a small quantity, you can work with the best artisans and use the best resources available. You let go of limits.
I remember my first Louis Vuitton wallet, in fact, I still have it. I bought it just after I closed on my first real estate deal and bought it as a gift for myself, a sort of reminder of what I had achieved. I wanted to create products that would have that kind of meaning to the individuals that buy it. I wanted to create something extraordinary that represented the moments, the achievements and the belief that anything is possible if you let go of self-made limitations.
When I met Rob Dyrdek and started learning about his venture studio, Dyrdek Machine, I was blown away. Here was this self-made guy, just like me, that had created his success. We immediately became friends and started the conversation on how we could work together. We were both successful and had money, so it wasn’t something that was born out of need. It was more of something born out of pure inspiration and the desire to build something together.
Rob had created an empire building brands. He had developed this unique system to build profitable, sustainable businesses, turning passions into profits. So, of course, when we first sat down and started talking, he immediately turned to me and wanted to know what I was passionate about. It is cray because I have always been the investor and businessman that invested in other people and businesses. I had never thought of investing in myself, a part of me was always afraid to follow my childhood dream of being an artist and designer. In just a few meetings, he extracted this from me and gave me the fuel to do it. He walked through the door one day and was like, “You need to have your own line” and already had the strategy to do it.
It was like someone that had spent their whole life as a trainer for boxers when deep down they had always wanted to be the boxer and never dared to admit it because someone had told them a long time ago that they couldn’t do it. Sometimes that sticks with you, especially when it is something you want more than anything. But when you have the right person that believes in you and can remind you, everything changes. From there, we laid out the strategy, built the team and started the company.
Q-Any other passions you might consider as businesses down the road?
A. I don’t know. I’m a big collector of cigars and have several of the world’s rarest cigars. I’m also building up an incredible collection of Scottish single malts and rare cognacs. I love Caviar and feel it’s a space that has some opportunities. To me, I am keeping my options open. But I always know when is the right one.
Q: You travel a good deal. How often do you use private jets?
A. All the time. With these latest ventures, I am regularly flying to Europe at a moment’s notice and can’t afford delays.
I know some people that that a private jet is a frivolous luxury item, but any businessman that flies privately understands the real value here. It is a way to save on the most valuable thing of all, time. When you can jump on a plane, without the long lines and headache of the public airports, you can have the space and peace to lay out a business strategy, develop ideas and sketch designs and even have a glass of fine wine with a Wagyu steak. By the time you arrive at your destination, you are well rested and prepared for your meetings or take on anything that comes your way. I do fly commercial. When I do, it is usually with airlines like Air France and their La Premiere first class service or Emirates, their suites are incredible and Emirates does have one of the best wine selections, not to mention a shower on a commercial aircraft.
Q: If you were going to buy a business jet, which do you think you’d choose at this stage of your career?
A. Well, giver that I’m over six feet, most business jets don’t have the headroom to allow me to stand up all the way. I enjoy the fact that I can stand up and walk with ease in a Gulfstream 450 or 550. I’m a big fan of Gulfstream, and I charter them frequently.
I also am a fan of the Global express. I think I would choose the G550 and of course, it would have to be customized.
Q: Apart from Gulfstream, what other jets have you charted with any frequency?
A. Flying around California, I use the Hawker 800XP or G200 much of the time. If I’m on my own, I tend to opt for a Lear 60 for short hops to Napa or Vegas when I am alone handling business. For anything over two hours or when vacationing in Aspen I prefer either a Challenger 604 or 300 or the Gulfstream 450 or 550.
Q: You put a lot of effort into “giving back.” How important is philanthropy to you?
A. Growing up without wealth, coming from a single parent home, I have a deep personal sense of what it is like to struggle. So, it is a very big deal for me to be able to give opportunities to the less fortunate. I believe in giving someone the tools to help themselves out instead of just giving money. That is why I love The Art of Elysium. They provide art therapy for the children in the hospitals that are left alone, while their parents are both working to afford their care. Most people don’t know this about me, but art has also been a form of therapy for me my entire life. Even today, I have a been working on a few excessively large paintings mixed with wine that allows a calming and peace while working out the stress from the day. It is an incredibly powerful way to express yourself.
I am also an avid art collector and have found ways to support different charities through the art. One example is the Ed Ruscha painting that I acquired through an amfAR auction with the prodding of Sharon Stone. A great story, but you will have to read about that one in my book.
Q: How do you think life has changed for you over the past few years?
A: I think I have matured a lot. I am much more focused on living my life right now, the way I want to live it. Instead of just focusing on creating businesses and financial wealth, I am following my passions and achieving my dreams. There is nothing holding me back. If you can build your future and still achieve your dreams, you can do anything.
View article at Business Aviation Magazine