My Week: Caroline Stanbury of Gift-Library.com

The CEO of Gift-Library.com on jet-setting to find the best luxury goods, juggling a team where not everyone likes the start-up culture, and getting her dad to help out...

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 10 Oct 2013

The concept of the site is allowing customers to order high-end branded goods, which can be gift-wrapped in a personalised hamper and delivered as gifts the next day. It’s about making completely unique gifts for people. 

Every single day is different. I get to work in the morning and I have a schedule handed to me by my incredibly patient secretary. I look at new products, I interview potential new staff, I try to find out a bit more about what some of our biggest clients want. I travel a lot, so in the last couple of weeks I’ve been to Italy and France, meeting clients and finding out what types of products they need me to source for them. At the moment I’m looking for a high-end pram that has a waiting list of a year-and-a-half but we’re trying to see if we can skip that and source it for the client. 

I’ve just been to the Cannes Film Festival, and I’ve been doing a lot of interviews in the last couple of weeks. There are lots of opportunities that come with running a business like this, so I’m always scouring and getting new ideas from people.

The toughest thing about running the company is staff. When you’re the boss, so much of your day is taken up with the mundane. The questions the staff have and the people coming and going from the company and all the rest of it, makes it a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. A lot of people are not used to working for a start-up so they can find that the non-rigid structure and flexible nature of what is required of them quite difficult. 

I’ve recently got my dad on board as COO, which has been nice because there is no-one you can trust better to run your business than your own family. Generally though, I have a good, steady group of people that I trust and enjoy working with. I cannot work if I don’t enjoy the place I’m working at, so it’s helps.

The most interesting thing I have found about being an entrepreneur is that other entrepreneurs give freely of their advice. I have met with Charles Dunstone who founded Carphone Warehouse, as well as Nick Jenkins from Moonpig.com. These guys have sat with me to give me advice, which has been amazing. They really inspire me and make me feel more confident that I am getting it right. 

In terms of the lifestyle, my philosophy is that if you work hard, you should definitely play hard, otherwise it becomes too much. This company is about fashion one minute, about personnel another, and about SEO and online marketing another. Your head spins with the different tasks you have to be involved in. So I really believe in quality time – alone time, that is – to wind down. 

I spend weekends with my children and my husband. I now run a business, a household, and take care of three children, so if I could go back, maybe I wouldn’t do it again. But now that I’m in it, I absolutely love it.

Caroline Stanbury is the CEO of www.gift-library.com.

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