Fabulous People: Sharon Provins

Sharon Provins is the co-founder of Birch Road Clubhouse in Seattle, which is a social club like no other. “Our clubhouses are thoughtfully designed to encourage our members to be comfortable, linger over a bottle of wine that you’ve brought, gather with friends or whatever else you dream up.” Learn about Sharon Provins…

Hometown: Born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Northbrook, IL

First job: My first job started in 4th grade as a dog walker for a black mini-poodle named Muffy. I was terrified of and allergic to dogs at the time!

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Spending time with friends and lots of dogs (fears and allergies overcome!) over a fire pit in Packwood, Washington, a small mountain town on the SE side of Rainier. 

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Having the courage to quit my corporate job to travel the world for eight months. The thought of losing the stability of a steady paycheck was super scary, but in the end it was an invaluable experience. Seeing the world, different cultures, history, art and nature made me a better person and appreciate people and experiences versus things and objects. It was a big part of why I took the leap to start Birch Road with my childhood friend. Our mission is to democratize the private club experience because we believe everyone deserves to have a nice place to connect with others, have good conversation and have the space to enjoy the simple moments in life, like laughing all night with friends over a bottle of wine.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: As far as we know, Birch Road is the only female-founded private club that isn’t just for women. It wasn’t easy to break into an industry traditionally dominated by older white men. My business partner (who I met on a street called Birch Road when we were 9 years old) and I revolutionized the concept and business model for private clubs. Nine years ago, it was hard to get people to understand what Birch Road was. We would get a lot of questions like…What do you mean there’s no restaurant or golf club? What do you mean you BYOB and there’s no bar? What do you mean you fingerprint in and there’s no reservations? Now that more people are aware of the concept of The Third Place, it’s a lot easier to explain and people understand why there’s a demand for places like Birch Road Clubhouse, especially after the past few years being stuck in our homes!

Someone who inspires you and why: Right now, I’m really inspired by a Birch Road member who truly exemplifies what it means to live in the moment and focus on the present. She doesn’t own a cell phone which is so uncommon in this day and age. It’s a choice she’s made that has helped her stay focused on the people and conversations happening in front of her rather than being distracted by a screen. It’s amazing how different it feels when you’re interacting with her. She’s 100 percent focused on you and the conversation at present. It feels great and I want to do that more when I’m interacting with people too.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Step 1. Be self aware of things you’re not great at. Step 2. Hire great people to do those things. Step 3. Trust those people to do a good job.

Favorite quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” –Mark Twain

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: Despite having a job that revolves around being social, I’m quite an introvert. I feel most comfortable in groups of three or less. Introverts need social clubs too!

What makes someone fabulous: Empathy, compassion and killer shoes.

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