Nightclub queen, Sarah Lucey’s current lifestyle living and working in Miami is a far cry from her background growing up on a farm in Cork.
The butcher’s daughter is Director of Talent Management at Liv and Story nightclubs, two of the city’s hottest destinations and while she may spend her days (and nights) rubbing shoulders with A-listers it is the 33 year old’s down-to-earth attitude, natural warmth and determination that has been the key to her success.
TSE Editor Jenny Taggart caught up with the bubbly blonde to talk fashion, hard work and having the craic with celebs.
Tell us about your first connection with the nightclub industry
My dad’s buddy has a house in Mallorca so my parents and I took a trip when I was 16. One night we happened to take an evening stroll after dinner and stumbled across BCM Mallorca (Magaluf), which was the 1st super club I encountered. It holds 10,000 people and has weekly residents like Calvin Harris, Armin Van Buuren, TIESTO etc. I come from a 5th generation butchering business (Lucey’s Butchers) in Mallow, Co. Cork. I was always a natural at selling but quickly learnt I wanted to sell something that people were excited to buy like entertainment or liquor.
I went back the following two summers until I was old enough to spend a full season there. I hustled and harassed the director for those 24 months to convey my hunger and seriousness of my passion. His name was Gordon Phillips and he really gave me my first bite at handling big talent.
What fuelled the decision to make the move to Miami?
Miami was never a direct focus for me. I was Stage Manager for USHUAIA (IBIZA), which is seasonal. My current boss David Grutman met me one summer in IBIZA and flew me over to work with him. I agreed to do the winter in Miami with the condition of returning to Ibiza for the summer. I never returned…
For those that don’t know, can you explain some of the main responsibilities that your job entails as a Director of Talent?
The biggest thing besides putting in a big monetary offer for talent to host/play at your venue is to have a sincere friendship with them. These guys like Travis Scott, Drake, Guetta, Swedish House Mafia might have 10 different offers from 10 different venues across the world on a single date, but if you genuinely have a good relationship with them they will accept your offer.
What attributes have driven your success?
For sure the warmth, charisma and humbleness the Irish people carry. Most celebs hate being treated like a celeb. They want to have the craic, have a cup of tea and be normal for a minute.
What advice would you give to those hoping to pursue a career in the industry?
Do your research, stay off the booze, book a flight and create encounters with your future boss. Its up to you to cross his/her path. Find out when/where they will be and introduce yourself in person. There’s no such thing as being too hungry. People notice passion but make sure to follow through. 9/10 people I offer interviews to show up late or not at all. A first impression is that – a first.
What’s the biggest/most frustrating misconception people have about you/your job?
People outside of the industry think it’s bizarre to decline most if not all after parties, yacht days, private jet trips. Balance is crucial. I crave Netflix, silence, nature, McDonalds over fine dining and lavish parties any day.
“Most celebs hate being treated like a celeb. They want to have the craic, have a cup of tea and be normal for a minute.”
What do you think is key to being the ultimate host to celebrity guests?
Just being normal and chilled. Anything they ask for is achievable; it’s my job to remove stress (even though behind the scenes there might be some screaming).
How do you think previous roles prepared you for your current job?
I have always been in nightlife but I’ve been working in the family butcher shop since I was five so I understand the meaning of long hours and the concept of earning a profit. At home work came first and it’s the same with this business. It’s a lifestyle not a job. You are always on.
From the outset, it looks like you have one of the coolest jobs in the world but what goes into your job that’s maybe not so cool/fun
- Hanging with a client at 7am/8am when all you want is bed.
- There’s no excuse for a night off. I might have been throwing up, shaking with fever but you show up with a smile – because if you don’t, someone else will.
What does a typical day/night look like for you?
99% of the planning we do for celebs like flights, private jets, transport, hotels, dinners, press whatever it may be changes over and over. Multitasking is crucial. We call it organised chaos.
It sounds like your job requires you to be ‘on’ at all times. How do you like to unwind and avoid burnout?
Silence! There’s never music on in my house. Peaky Blinders and The Godfather Trilogy. And eating! I love me some fast food.
We imagine being starstruck is pretty much out of the question within your role. How did you manage that at the start of your career when dealing with celebrity guests?
People ask me that a lot but I didn’t grow up with Justin Bieber or The Kardashians. I think to be star struck you genuinely need to be a fan from a young age. I grew up going to Celtic V Rangers football matches. My idols were the likes of Hendrick Larsson, Martin O’ Neil and Roy Keane.
Is there a particular celebrity client you’d love to work with within your role?
I returned to this question several times but no one springs to mind. Just someone that has the same morals and business ethics as me.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
No one is too important to be polite. No one wants to hear someone talking about themselves so listen to people and just be kind. Whether it’s Kim K, her driver or a homeless person. Be kind to all.
You seem really tall in photos; what height are you and what’s your go-to confidence boosting outfit?
I’m 5ft 8in with crazy long legs and a short torso. Ugh believe it or not outfits are one of the hardest parts of the job. I have so many glamorous events I need to be at but as I’m working and running around its impossible to wear certain things. For example I cant wear open toe shoes because I’ll generally get toe stabbed by some guest’s stiletto on the dance floor. It’s impossible to wear skirts because I’m sprinting up and down stairs a lot and there is nothing worse than a skintight top when I may have three dinners a night (I love to eat). I own about 20 pair of thigh highs. They add glam but I can wear comfy socks. A pair of shorts (high waisted for all the food I devour) and a comfy loose shirt. Hats are brilliant too if I have to run to the airport/hotel.
“It’s a lifestyle not a job. You are always on.”
What’s one beauty product you couldn’t live without?
Moisturiser. I take my makeup off and on like its nobody’s business and with the air conditioning in Miami my skin gets so dry. Good old school Nivea all over my body twice a day. Oh and hairspray. I may leave the house at 5pm and not get home until 5am. I need that hair to stay in place even if it feels like a rock.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Miami?
My fav place to eat is KOMODO, besides the food being Asian fusion the vibe is crazy. There’s a DJ and it’s a real locals’ place so a lot of my buddies will be there. Also Prime 112, SWAN and Drunken Dragon.
How did you meet your husband?
I met him in Ibiza, he’s French and is the Technical Director. We both moved over from Ibiza to Miami together. We work side-by-side every night, it’s amazing. He totally gets it.
What are the things you miss about Ireland and what do you like to do when you go back home to Cork for a holiday?
I miss my family like nobody’s business, I miss the fields and Sunday roasts and the wonderful occupation of doing nothing. I love Ireland and I love the countryside.
When I come home I tell everyone they have to call to me because I hate the idea of going out for dinner. My parents are my best friends, I’m obsessed with my mam so I just want to eat homemade cakes, eat full Irish breakfasts and walk the local boríns.
What’s next on the dream job bucket list?
Retire on my farm in Cork! Although most celebs I handle are begging me to take them around Ireland and castles. Maybe I’ll start a little one-stop shop trip at home. Who knows? This business is so unpredictable I have learnt to live for today.
“This business is so unpredictable I have learnt to live for today.”