Founder of The Gift Library,Caroline Stanbury, on having fun with your business

You’re the face of gift-library, how important was it to be a recognised name before launching the brand?

It wasn’t important at all; I was hardly a recognized face before I launched Gift Library in 2008. If anything I think it could be more of a hindrance than a help – you want people to be attracted to your business because of what it’s worth, not because of who’s running it.

You regularly post fun pictures and quotes on your instagram profile, how important is it to work in a relaxed environment?

I think it’s very important to have a relaxed working environment. I need to have fun at work, it encourages a good office atmosphere, creativity and a happy team - I would hate for my office to be boring and stale. 

What’s your favourite life quote?

Work hard, play harder.

Which entrepreneurial story inspires you the most?

Natalie Massenet’s creation and growth of Net-A-Porter.com is a huge inspiration for me, I love hearing about female entrepreneurs who have created success on their own terms.

You begun your career as a stylist and then a personal shopper, how important is it to see the industry from both sides before running a business?

Seeing the industry from both sides before running a business is extremely important. I’ve done every job myself and learnt from the ground up – it’s vital to know how it feels to be both an employee and an employer, and to understand the working environment of both.

How did you secure the top designers and big industry names for gift-library?

Very slowly, and with endless compromising! You need at least one person to believe in you in order for others to follow.

You recently invested in The Wedding Shop, how do you plan on taking the brand forward?

We’re in the middle of a big renovation of our Fulham Road flagship store which is soon to become a one stop wedding destination for every detail of your wedding, from wedding lists and catering, to event planning, bespoke invitations and luxury styling. Our goal is to become the leading independent wedding list service in the UK and Ireland, and our business rebrand will also incorporate a new website and future rebranding of the other Wedding Shop outlets. The Wedding Shop of Caroline Stanbury will blur the lines between traditional wedding lists and a retail space, and will become a new concept for the wedding industry.

It's important to have a focus before starting a business right?

Yes of course, without a passion and focus it’s impossible to grow a business, it’s imperative to have a strong focus and set goals if you want to manage a successful company.

Gift-Library has been covered by loads of media platforms and magazines including Vogue, how much has credible media coverage helped sales?

Coverage in media platforms hasn’t ever had a huge impact on our sales, but that’s not the only use for these sorts of features. Brand recognition, and getting your name out to the masses especially in such reputable magazines as Vogue is just as important as initial reflections in sales – you must think about how positively the coverage will effect the growth of your audience in the long run.

You’re set to appear in ‘Ladies of London’, how will you use the programme to further promote gift-library?

That’s half the reason I decided to join the show – to promote Gift Library. The show has a platform of roughly 98 million viewers, which is a huge number of people who are going to get to find out about who I am and what I do. My hope is that they’re going to want to learn more about me and my companies, which is an excellent opportunity to promote Gift Library and The Wedding Shop.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Clothes and handbags – shopping in general is by far my biggest guilty pleasure!

What’s it like running a successful business and having a family?

With three young children and a husband it’s extremely important for me to have a good work and life balance. I put my foot down when it comes to leaving work on time so that I can put my kids to bed and have some down time at home. Work is so important to me but I couldn’t survive without leaving myself space in the day to see friends and family.

Which business mistake have you learnt from the most?

I’m constantly learning everyday, often through trial and error. Running a business doesn’t come with a handbook – I wish it did! My biggest mistake was probably my first website build, it didn’t go as planned, and took a long time to fix.

Growing up, who was your role model and why?

I always just dreamt of being a successful entrepreneur - I never had a specific role model so to speak, just a thirst for creating and running a lucrative business.

If there was one thing you could differently in your career, what would it be?

Go back in time, and start with the team I have now!

What do you do to wind down?

Lock my bathroom door, and watch a film in a hot bath!

What's the best marketing strategy you've come across? 

I loved Marmite’s most recent ad campaign, featuring a ‘marmite rescue team’ saving neglected jars of marmite from the backs of people’s cupboards. Absolutely witty and hilarious!

Get more tips on your brand identity here

Caroline Stanbury will be on the panel at out Smarta 100 event on May 20th. Book your free ticket here and ask her anything

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