Q&A With Caroline Stanbury: Founder Of Gift-Library.com

By P. Joseph

With Father’s Day just passed, online shopping offers the ideal solution for those who allowed the big day to skip their mind.

One website that will happily come to your rescue is Gift-Library.com, an online luxury shop offering high-end, niche gifts for men, women, babies, the home and much more.

Founded by London-based style consultant Caroline Stanbury, the website caters to true luxury connoisseurs. Some of the site’s most recent products include a Cognac Delamain Voyage carafe costing £5,150, and an ‘I Love You’ Rolex Explorer priced at £8,800.

Security conscious dads may also enjoy the Dottling Pauline customisable safe, featuring a camouflaged opening system, a portable jewellery case that can be equipped with a GPS transmitter, patented armour plating and multi-functional electronic locking systems. The high-tech safe costs a cool £90,000.

Superyachts.com spoke with Ms Stanbury to discuss the inspiration behind the company, how its products are chosen, and more.

Can you give me a brief history of how you came to set up gift-library.com, and what inspired you to do so?

After building up many clients through my work as a stylist over ten to fifteen years, I was increasingly being asked to shop for wedding presents, birthday gifts etc. As a busy working mother myself, I realised that most people are short of time so I set up Gift-Library.com where you can choose a gift from a selection online, have it wrapped with a bespoke message added and then have it delivered directly.

Can you explain the process for how you source the products that appear on the site?

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.

What is your criteria for the kind of products you would sell?

We aim to provide luxury delivered to your door and gifting made simple, and this concept is unique to each and every one of our customers. We stock a complete range on the site, so you can shop all these luxury brands from one place. We have everything from £12,000 watches to £500 designer handbags, right down to a £16 shoe bag from an up-and-coming Parisian designer. The luxury aspect is not confined to expensive products; it’s just as much about carefully chosen and delicately sourced pieces.

What advice would you give to someone struggling to think of an original and appropriate gift idea – what’s the best way to nail it?

Call our team of expert personal shoppers and let them do it for you! For my friends with everything, I simply think fun and personal, like a travel kit which I put their name on. People love personal gifts and this is made so easy at Gift-Library.com with our personal monogramming service. Evening bags for women are always a great gift, as are flowers and underwear! But I find it’s always good to think outside the box and surprise the person you’re buying for with something totally unique and unusual. We have everything from William Yeoward crystal caviar servers and Josephine Daniel diamond cufflinks, to specially designed luxury hampers picked by our team of expert personal shoppers – you can put all these brands in one basket, and even if it’s not on the site we can help you source that extra special gift.

Do you gain satisfaction out of giving exposure to new designers?

I love championing new designers, it’s really important to balance these with established names to keep the selection fresh and up-to-the-minute. We started selling some beautiful Charlotte Sale hand-blown glassware last year before anyone had really heard about her, which was really exciting, both for us and the designer. Most recently we’ve added an ultra-stylish Parisian designer to our selection, La Cerise sur Le Gateau, who does the most beautiful quirky prints for homeware.

What would you say to convince more consumers to buy luxury goods online?

For me there’s no convincing to do. You can shop from the comfort of your home, or wherever you are in the world and, with the help of Gift-Library.com, you can be sure that you’ll receive quality and luxury from the product right down to the gift wrapping and the impeccable service. The convenience of simply falling into bed at the end of the day and shopping is an absolute joy. Gift-Library.com is a luxury for both giver and recipient.

What are your interests outside of work?

Balancing my work and family is not easy, but my family supports everything I do. My advice to other working mothers would be to challenge yourself every day and you really can have it all. Aside from family, ever since I was little I’ve always loved clothes. Whenever I go to friends houses for dinner I always rush straight to their closets and everyone is like: ‘Where’s Caroline?’ and I’ve thrown myself in the closet! That’s who I am and I’ve always been that person. When I didn’t have the money to spend I wouldn’t eat for a week so I could buy the right handbag. I’d be starving but I’d have my Louboutins.

What are your ambitions for gift-library.com, short and long term?

We want to continue to build our portfolio of incredible designers and maintain our reputation as the ultimate online destination for luxury gifting. Long term we’re looking at expanding the business globally - we already have a PR company working for us in Dubai in order to further build the brand. There’s also certain figures in the industry I would like to collaborate with – I’d love to work with Victoria Beckham.

Would you ever consider setting up a bricks-and-mortar outlet?

For now, I think it’s important to be an expert at what we do best, which is online retail. Plus it’s such an exciting and fast developing area that a traditional bricks-and-mortar outlet seems pale in comparison. I think we’ll see online malls and virtual shopping grow as people become more accustomed to it. Although we are thinking of opening a showroom out our head office for VIPs and clients to visit, so we can really extend that personal shopping experience.

What are your personal favourite items on the site right now?

There are so many it’s hard to choose! We have a stunning collection of Diane Kordas jewellery, of which the Diamond Arabesque ring is particularly gorgeous. The Elie Bleu Black Sycamore Heritage Paris Box For Cufflinks is an exquisite gift for the well-dressed man, then there’s the inimitable Marco Mavilla OvalOne white diamond timepiece - which is one of my personal favourites, and one of our latest additions is the Summer Barbeque Gift Set for those who love to party in style…I could go on!

By P. Joseph