Joshua and Sarissa Schwartz, Founders & Managing Directors of SJS Group

Joshua and Sarissa love the nightlife. They have several entertainment businesses across Asia including cocktail bars and a nightclub.
What’s your story?
I have been in the food and beverage industry for as long as I can remember. My first job was working at an Italian bakery (ok, it was an ice cream shop but that lasted 13 hours). I was always drawn to it and in high school did a lot of waitressing, hostessing and other front-of-house positions. I decided to stick with it after college and eventually moved here in 2011 to help open a nightclub at The Marina Bay Sands. It was very successful and after a lot of hard work and learning about the Asian market, I decided to step out on my own with my husband Josh Schwartz.
What excites you most about your industry?
Nightlife and food and beverage is instant gratification. You don’t have to work months or years to see a deal through or to see performance based results. It happens instantaneously. You can see people taste a dish, dance to their favourite song and enjoy a celebration right there in front of you. That’s what always drew me in and continues to motivate me to this day.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I moved here without ever going to Asia, but now my connection would be that it’s my home. I feel I grew up here in a lot of ways. Asia has been very good to me.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Since I have businesses in both Singapore and Hong Kong I would have to say both! The synergy between the two is great, and as far as business practices are concerned, the two cities are top notch.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To learn something new every day. I truly believe that when someone is closed off to learning their chances of success or continued success diminishes.
Who inspires you?
I look at people that take their success and influence and utilise that to seek positive social change as inspiration.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
With the opening of my latest venue LuLu’s Lounge I have seen how needed live entertainment was in this market. I believe this is the future of nightlife and we’ll see a resurgence of this in the coming years.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Worry less and enjoy the ride.
How do you unwind?
A great massage and a captivating movie does the trick. Although working out isn’t unwinding, it does get my mind off of work for an hour.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My top choice at the moment is Gili Trawangan. I just love how remote and authentic it still is, with gorgeous surrounding islands, great diving and an adorable town.
Everyone in business should read this book:
How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes.
Shameless plug for your business:
Yes! Visit Employees Only Singapore on Amoy Street for great cocktails, dinner and late night menu offerings. It’s a speakeasy concept from New York that’s classic and cozy. We just opened an outlet in 19 Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong in June so check it out. In Singapore, visit my latest venue LuLu’s Lounge which has taken off and is Singapore’s newest hotspot if I do say so myself. Early hour Jazz beginning at 9pm, live entertainment that takes place in the form of burlesque, sax and tap throughout the evening. We serve bar snacks until 2am and stellar cocktails. LuLu’s is a fun and sophisticated night out. For a full-on nightclub, visit Bang Bang (next door to LuLu’s). This has all the over-the-top antics of a big room nightclub with killer lights and sound, confetti, CO2 drops, international guest DJs, mascots, dancers and the like.
How can people connect with you?

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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