When you are trying to balance a multi-million dollar business, star in a Reality TV Show, raise 3 beautiful children, and maintain a healthy long-term marriage with a husband who travels half of every month something eventually has to give. Either your sanity ceases to function, or your British stiff upper lip sees you through the dark times. Caroline Stanbury is the latter.
British press loves to tear the posh darlings of society down with the stroke of a pen. They are constantly looking for blood in the water. When rumors of trouble began for Stanbury’s “Gift Library” several UK tabloids had a field day publishing damaging articles against the socialite CEO. Ladies Of London fans deserve to know the truth about Caroline Stanbury’s business, without biased press.
The Gift Library of Caroline Stanbury was born in 2008 created by Caroline herself! Stanbury’s idea was to take the hard work out of finding the perfect gift. Gifts for exclusive celebrity and business clients costing thousands of dollars, or a great novelty item for $10 that anyone could afford, all housed at Gift-Library.com. At the time of its inception Stanbury was an in-demand London Fashion stylist and PR girl. The contacts and relationships she cultivated during those days gave Caroline an advantage when it came to sourcing exclusive merchandise for her website. Gift Library took off, and needed funding to meet customer demand from around the World. Caroline will agree that her strength lies in knowing what makes an amazing gift and choosing the right vendors to stock. She needed a strong business partner to set up her growing company’s management structure and to secure funding. Stanbury found exactly that in Goga Ashkenazi.
In 2010 Goga Ashkenazi, then a 30 yr-old billionaire, thanks to her oil and gas engineering company and entrepreneurial exploits in her native Kazakhstan, became an equal partner in her friend Caroline Stanbury’s venture, Gift-Library.com. ‘Caroline loves picking the stock,’ Goga says, ‘while I know what business strategy we should be taking. I tell her, “We should go to America, translate the site into Russian…” and she replies, “Isn’t that vase great?”’ They have mixed in the same circles for a decade, but got to know each other properly about two and a half years ago, when they sat next to each other on a plane.
‘We’re very different. My character is very masculine and she’s very girlie. I come to her for girlie-time, which I never had before. All my friends used to be men, but now Caroline is my best friend.’
Ashkenazi became Chairwoman of the Board seeing it as a rare professional venture that would allow her to indulge her girly side. She pushed Stanbury to expand the product range, adding more accessible items to increase revenue. “With Goga, everything always has to be bigger and better,” Stanbury says. “She wants to take every business from zero to a zillion in three minutes.” Stanbury, who initially hadn’t expected Ashkenazi to be very hands-on, found herself with an eager companion at trade fairs in Tokyo and Paris. “Goga is hilarious, always there early, with her shopping trolley and her trainers on, ready to go.” Caroline also added a team of very talented buyers, commenting to the press Stanbury had this to say about GL’s products.
“Everything is handpicked by myself and a core team of expert buyers – Gift-Library.com chairwoman Goga Ashkenazi, friend and fellow fashionista Tamara Beckwith, and British Vogue Fashion Features Editor Sarah Harris. We travel around the world visiting potential suppliers on regular buying trips to source new and unusual products to sell on the site, which has taken me everywhere from Paris, to the Middle East and Asia. People send me ideas all the time, even my friends, but everything on the site is picked by me, Goga, Tamara or Sarah only.”
In 2012 Gift Library continued its upward trajectory gaining additional funding from Artemis Investment Management.