Seat 3A: Ashleigh Dempster and Matt George, Founders, AKID

Seat 3A: Ashleigh Dempster and Matt George, Founders, AKID

Lifestyle | Posted by - September 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

Name: Ashleigh Dempster and Matt George
Hometown: Toronto
Home Base: Los Angeles
Occupation: Co-Founders, AKID Brand

Bio: Matt George is an entrepreneur with over 17 years of experience in starting, operating and selling businesses. He founded Ransom and partnered with Adidas (Ransom by Adidas), a partnership that sold over $40 million worth of product in 5 years. Matt currently owns Stussy Canada, Ransom Holding Co., Waiola Coconut Water LLC., Nomad, and Unitedfront. 

Ashleigh Dempster is a native of Toronto and now lives in Los Angeles, CA along with her husband, serial-entrepreneur Matthew George, and their two young sons. Considered one of Toronto’s most exciting and influential women, Dempster first co-founded The Society Global in 2006, a members-only organization described as a “virtual cultural club for the creative class.” Boasting a membership of over 4000, the club created and executed events in cities across the United States and Canada within the arts, entertainment, lifestyle and fashion industries.

Q: Most visited destination for business
A: Ashleigh: We're very nomadic these days. Los Angeles is our home base but the two of us are constantly traveling to different cities around the world. For example, Matt just got back on the weekend after 3 weeks of travel from the Philippines to China to England and then Scotland. It's a total mash up and we're loving every minute of it!

Q: Most impressive airport
A: Ashleigh: Istanbul.
Matt: South Korea, Incheon.

Q: Preferred luggage
A: Rimowa.

Q: What three things are on your must-pack-or-will-suffer-a-meltdown list? 
A: Ashleigh: Computer, phone, passport, credit card. Everything else can be purchased if you need it!
Matt: Ashleigh picked my four first grabs but I also have to travel with ear plugs, a universal plug adaptor and my mini HD.

Q: Preferred airline 
A: Ashleigh: Air Canada.
Matt: Singapore Airlines.

Q: Aisle or window 
A: Ashleigh: Aisle.
Matt: Window.

Q: Jet lag strategy
A: Ashleigh: Exercise, lots of water and force yourself to stay up till your regular bedtime in that time zone.
Matt: Exercise, 20-minute nap and a good steam and then cold shower.

Q: Staying in shape on the road 
A: Ashleigh: Depending on the city I am in, I'll hit the hotel gym or try and book into a Pilates, fitness, boxing or other type of exercise class. I use the Beautified app in NYC quite a bit and they just added fitness so you can easily track which classes have openings that day in your area.
Matt: I try to get into the gym as often as possible, but also try to walk from meeting to meeting; three 20-minute walks a day between meetings helps.

Q: A travel moment that sparked an entrepreneurial idea or solution
A: Matt: My first business was inspired by a store in Tokyo I visited in 2000. Took me 2 hours to find – no sign, had to knock to get invited to visit, etc. I wanted to recreate this in Toronto, where I was living at the time. 

Q: Most interesting foreign brand unknown in North America that you think gets it right
A: Matt: Undercover in Japan, and Yardbird restaurant in Hong Kong. 

Q: Best hotel bar for networking with other entrepreneurs
A: Ashleigh: Bowery Hotel in NYC.
Matt: Soho House (NYC/Miami/Berlin/London).

Q: Time & money saving tips
A: Matt: Take public transit when visiting a new city. You become localized a lot faster and start to really get a feel for the people who live there, and it's cheap.
Ashleigh: For the US, download the Beautified app to book any last minute beauty appointments. It saves you so much time trying to sort through what salons have availability. 

Q: What hotel has truly lived up to the hype? 
A: Both: Amangiri in Utah. We were there in July. Both of us were speechless when we arrived. It is beyond stunning!

Q: On the flipside, a hotel that has been a crashing disappointment? 
A: Matt: I have too many bad hotel experiences to call out just one. But I would say sometimes a brand name doesn't mean the service you expect in certain parts of the world. 

Q: Your most amusing or regrettable holiday souvenir
A: Matt: I bought a tiny 16” flat screen TV before you could buy one in North America. I think this was around 2003. Spent five times what it ended up being at retail a year later at a local shop!

Q: What do you enjoy finding most in a mini-bar?
A: Both: Waiola Coconut Water. Good dark chocolate.

Q: Describe your guilty pleasure when traveling/vacationing
A: Both: Room service and movies in bed.

Q: What foreign phrase do you most enjoy tossing about?
A: Matt: How about Carpe Diem? It's Latin but that counts as foreign right?

Q: Tell us about a great little place you recommend to friends 
A: Both: We've been going to The Parker in Palm Springs since we met. We actually got engaged there. It's 2 hours from LA. The grounds are beautiful. You can relax by the pool and drink mulled lemonades, take an afternoon hammock nap in the garden. If you're up for more of an outdoor adventure you can hit up Joshua Tree National Park. 

Q: “I would do almost anything to relive every minute of this hotel stay...” 
A: Both: It's not really a hotel but we were on a boat for two weeks last year in Turkey and Greece with our family. It was probably one of the most memorable trips we have taken. Mostly because of who we shared it with!

Q: Confess to one thing you’ve nicked from your hotel room 
A: Ashleigh: Matt has an obsession with stealing travel shampoos and soaps from each hotel he stays at. 
Matt: Well you have me there.

Q: Favourite island
A: Both: Abaco, Bahamas. It's our idea of paradise.

Q: UNESCO World Heritage Site that blows your mind
A: Matt: This is a tough one. I have been lucky to visit nearly 100 on the list as every time I travel, even for work, I force myself to take in one site or cultural experience while visiting. I can tell you that the top of my list for countries I have never been to is India. India has around 60 UNESCO World Heritage sites listed and I would love see them one day!
Ashleigh: Couldn't have said it better!

Q: The most painfully cool hotel you’ve ever stayed in 
A: Matt: The Story Hotel in Stockholm is perfect for me. No check-in desk as all is done on your phone. Great small restaurant, a busy bar and I think less than 35 rooms. There is an amazing gym very close by as well; once you finish your workout you can take a steam and jump into a fresh outdoor cold plunge. 

Q: The best spa experience of your life
A: Both: We love going local. Two years ago we went to an Onsen deep in the snowy mountains of northern Japan that was one of the most amazing experiences by far. 

Q: A travel themed film that has really moved you 
A: Ashleigh: The Life of Pi.

Q: A beloved travel book, fiction or non-fiction 
A: Ashleigh: Shantaram.

Tags: matt george, ashleigh dempster, akid, travel, si si penaloza, seat 3a, profiles

Si Si Penaloza

Si Si Penaloza has been jet-setting to the world's top destinations for over a decade, contributing to The Globe and Mail, JETSET and NUVO. She has trekked the Himalayas in seersucker pajamas, tracked baby kiwi birds at Cape Kidnappers and observed octopus at 80 feet below in Bora Bora.

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