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Personal concierges may be the latest travel phenomenon, but CJ Tours takes the trend one step further by offering unusual and personalized shopping experiences in Paris, New York, and soon, London and Milan.
Founded by Chloe Johnston in 2011, her flagship Parisian fashion tour service gives travelers access to everything from meeting the craftsman behind the embellishments on Roger Vivier shoes at the Palais de Tokyo museum to a butlered tasting at a winery. Johnston, whose personal contacts in the city range from boutique high-end designers to luxury vintage stores, started the company as a capstone project for her MBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship at New York's Laboratory Institute of Merchandising. Fluent in French with a family apartment in the seventh arrondissement, Johnston had a natural draw to the City of Light.
Launched just this past winter, Johnston, who lives in Philadelphia the majority of the year, says, "New York was a natural progression, as the idea for the company was born there." London, which will launch this summer, and Milan, which will launch in 2016, "have been client suggestions for a few years."
And despite the continuous onslaught of personal travel concierges in the market, Johnston remains adamant that CJ Tours is unlike anything else out there due to "the behind-the-scenes access and experience—who wouldn’t want to see the genius behind the geniuses and take home a specially curated piece?"
Here, Chloe shares a peek at some of what’s on offer in Paris, New York, and London:
"We start with coffee at Café Marly (93 Rue de Rivoli; 33-1/49-26-06-60) to fuel up while getting in a little people watching. Then, it's off to Les Suites (47 Rue Pierre Charron; 33-1/56-59-11-11), where you will have your own private salon to see one-of-a-kind fashion pieces and stunning art from around the world, with a stop for lunch at Derrière en Le Marais (69 Rue des Gravilliers; 33-1/44-61-91-95). Spend your afternoon with a choice of an additional exclusive shopping experience or a visit to a private atelier, and have a designer show you how to customize your own piece using haute couture techniques, or simply have him create something that's uniquely yours. We’ll run by Serge Lutens (142 Galerie de Valois; 33-1/49-27-09-09) for a little lipstick before dinner at my favorite spot, Il Vino (13 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg; 33-1/44-11-72-00)."
New York City
"Although this is not the most typical, it is one of my most fun days! We’ll begin at The Plaza Hotel downstairs for coffee and, of course, people watching (768 Fifth Ave.; 212-759-3000). Then it’s off to where the NY firemen eat… 9th Ave Royal Deli (817 Ninth Ave.; 212-765-6475). Next up: a little private atelier shopping with Norisol (138 Mulberry St.; 212-334-5457), followed by a tour of unique vintage shops. We’ll end the day with Mulberry Project for drinks (149 Mulberry St.; 646-448-4536)."
"First up is Belgravia for private shopping in an exclusive, appointment only showroom. We’ll have lunch afterwards at any number of fine choices: Salmontini (1 Pont St.; 44-20/7118-1999), Mosimann's (11 W. Halkin St.; 44-20/7235-9625). After dining, we’ll visit Tracey Neuls for shoes (multiple locations) before finishing with a cocktail at Purl nearby (50-54 Blandford St.; 44-20/7935-0835), and of course Artesian at the Langham (1 c Portland Pl., Regent St.; 44-20/7636-1000)."
Chloe Johnston tours and shopping experiences, from $250 at chloejohnston.com.