The great escape

Iris Zohar has created the ideal space for women in need of a short break and some well-conceived quality time.

Nine Rooms, an exclusive women’s club located in Jaffa (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nine Rooms, an exclusive women’s club located in Jaffa
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I had heard about Nine Rooms several times. When people talk about the exclusive women’s club, it is always with a great sense of awe and an air of secrecy and exclusivity. Nine Rooms is a discreet little urban getaway that needs to be kept just that, discreet and personal, in order to keep its essence and original charm. Like an amazing little secret that only really cool and privileged women know. Well, so far at least.
The women’s club, located in Jaffa, was created to offer its members a space where they can take a break from their hectic daily routine, learn about various new topics and network and bond with other career women. In the cozy armchairs in the tranquil and dimly lit space are seated women from all walks of life, from businesswomen to designers and journalists, all with one mission in mind: to take a brief pause from their overly demanding schedules and clear some space for their personal well-being.
Iris Zohar, who specializes in marketing for the premium sector, is the woman behind Nine Rooms. She allowed us to enter the doors of her much buzzed-about club and find out why and how it has become such a sensation. This is the story as she told it to us.
Nine Rooms didn’t start out as a club. We didn’t have a specific location. It was a brand that consisted of an event I created that took place at a different venue each time. The idea was always the same: to create a space for women to relax, eat and drink, converse, listen to lectures and have spa treatments.
My goal was to create a club for working women. We provide close and personal service and a space where women can relax, work, meet other members, network, read magazines and interior design books, get a spa treatment, enjoy seminars and lectures, eat and drink. This is a place where a woman is pampered, a place where she can recharge her energy.
The design of the space is both functional and decorative. The club has four different spaces, which include seating areas and a spa for cosmetic treatments by Carita Paris.
I’m a big fan of dress codes. This is a concept I make sure to implement with regard to the way I dress and the way my team dresses. I wear loosefitting, monochrome outfits during the day. It is very important for me to neutralize any background noise my outfit might create. I will never go with bold colors or wear eye-catching accessories. When I do business, my femininity and appearance should not be an issue. Neutralizing background noise is also what Nine Rooms itself does for our members. We are here to create peace and quiet in the midst of their hectic routine. The people who work here also dress according to a dress code of little black dresses and cardigans in order to blend in and not create any distraction from our main goal -- a relaxation zone for women.
There are some women we will not accept at the club. It happened a few times, not a lot of times, but it did happen. For example, we had a woman who said that her aim was to find a workspace. Sure, you can work here, gladly, but this is not the reason we opened Nine Rooms. Moreover, I can’t promise you that you will find a place to sit with your computer every day. Some days we have events that take up all the space. Another example was a woman who was very famous, and we just couldn’t allow it. I can’t afford to have photographers sitting in front of our club and disturbing the other women. This is a very intimate salon, and I don’t want that intimacy to be compromised.
There are clubs overseas that resemble Nine Rooms. There are members-only clubs such as the Soho club, which exists in many cities such as London, New York and Chicago. However, it is very different from Nine Rooms. First and foremost, it is for both men and women. It is also more oldfashioned than our club.
I am inspired by Shimon Peres.
I think he is admirable, and I respect and identify with his whole approach toward work and career. He once said that people should never stop working, and I agree. He also said that if you don’t fantasize, you don’t create fantastic things. This is so true. I make sure I fantasize every day, learn something new, discover something new and keep evolving.
My husband is my partner. We work together, and he serves as the art director and basically does anything Nine Rooms requires. We have been married for 11 years and have no children. I feel blessed having him beside me and sharing my vision.
I never have to explain why I come home late at night because he is there with me.
When I need to relax, I go to Rome.
It is my favorite city. The people are amusing, the city is beautiful, and the food is great. However, I must say that ever since I opened the club, I feel less and less the need to take a vacation. It’s like I am also relaxing here while working.
My strength as a businesswoman is being able to mix vision with execution. I’m good at seeing the big picture, as well as attending to the small details. I have a CEO who has been with me since day one, and I trust her completely. Together with my husband, I have all the support I need in-house. My management style is very hands on and meticulous. I am in the club every day, making sure that everything goes well and that everyone follows protocol. I also serve as a host for our club members. I sit at their tables and converse with them regularly.
The club is my baby. I have to be here. I want to be here.
I’m in no hurry. I prefer that my business will grow organically.
I’m looking to improve the lives of thousands, not millions, and I’m not in it to make millions. I am not here to make an exit, I am here to stay and expand.
I have a lot of plans with regard to Nine Rooms as a lifestyle brand.
I want to have more clubs around the world. I am definitely planning to become global. We are also moving into a bigger space soon, so we will have more rooms and seating areas.