Different from others

Interviewed: Elena Olkhovskaya

They talk a lot about her and write even more: about her appearance and husbands, influential friends and her multi-million dollar fortune. Some are enthusiastically and some are enviously discussing the personality of this bright young woman in magazines, online blogs and television programs, as well as her new haute couture outfits, personal planes, expensive cars and vacation habits at luxury resorts. Behind a heap of all kinds of gossip it is difficult to discern the man himself. Yes, she is different from the others. She is what she is. Goga Ashkenazi. Stylish, smart, smart. Successful business woman and loving mother. And if you are hoping to read another batch of gossip about her, I hasten to disappoint you. It will be about the new project of Gogi, which, like all previous ones, is surely doomed to success. For all the rest, go to the relevant Internet sites, and for now we will talk with Goga in a relaxed atmosphere.

Goga, for me, always remained a mystery how a young woman such as you can combine business, family, hobbies, and travels, while remaining a real lady.

I think these are genes and self-discipline. I have such a job that you don’t have to relax.

Please tell us about your new project - Gift Library. What is this concept and who is your “gift library” aimed at?

Honestly, online shopping of various kinds is a growing trend. I entered this business thanks to my friend Caroline Stanbury, whom we have known for 10 years and have been close friends for over five years. She initially created a luxury gift website covering a specific segment of the market. I worked with her for two years, and last year we redid this site together when I entered the business as an investor and partner.

We immediately stopped the old site, completely redid it, added a lot of new products. It was important for us to deal not only with wealthy people who give gifts to a friend, but also with all those who can afford the so-called "affordable luxury" (affordable luxury). Today we offer gifts at prices ranging from 5 pounds to 150,000 pounds.

What is the main feature of Gift Library website? Indeed, you must admit that today there is a huge selection of offers on the Internet, and hundreds and thousands of Internet resources will appear at the request of the buyer “gifts”.

Our main “trick" is ourselves! We are Caroline and I, first of all, transfer our style and vision through the website, in addition, many stylists work with us, such as the editor of the British “Vogue”, Tamara Beckwies, who is also a “fashion icon” in the UK, many other specialists who have received the necessary training.

Another pro argument is a personalized service. You can go to our website, create your own page, enter memorable dates, birthdays there. After that, a week before the marked date, you will receive reminders and lists of various gifts, moreover, along with a notification that you already gave this person last year to avoid repetition and misunderstanding. A list of options for new gifts, selected by our consultants and stylists, will be given taking into account the same price category that was last year. All that remains for you to do is simply click on the link you need and your gift will be sent to your addressee with a personalized card attached, on which the wish will be written and your signature will be written.

Where did the signature come from?

Similarly, any Gift Library user can scan and upload a personal signature to their website page, which will be used later on all accompanying cards for sent gifts. I will honestly tell you, this is really a very convenient site.

Especially for busy people like us, who have no time to go shopping and spend hours choosing the right gift. You can visit our site at any time of the day: in the afternoon, in the evening, at night.

We, in turn, try to approach the work of the Gift Library with love and personal attitude, so we select gifts for our visitors that we ourselves would like to receive. That is, everything, as for yourself. In fact, all the gifts that are presented at the Gift Library today are either in my home or I have already given them to someone.

Which gift groups are most in demand among Gift Library website visitors?

You know, now, probably, the most popular brands and products are those associated with women's fashion. The concept of our site is based on the absence of any seasons and sizes - “No Seasons, No Sizes”. This means that almost all of our gifts will be relevant in this and in the next season. For example, jewelry or accessories are in great demand among us, both among women who give gifts to each other, and among men who give something to their women. Another group with consistently high demand is children's gifts.

This is because you are a young mother, and your little son is growing up, are you trying to present more gifts for children on the site?

Oh yeah! And so, too (laughs). My son definitely has everything that we have in the Gift Library! We always try to select as a gift things with some kind of “zest”, and those that a person, perhaps, he himself did not think about. Naturally, we also have a classic, but even in classic lines we try to introduce some new designers and their ideas. Everywhere I go on business or on vacation, I try to keep an eye on something interesting. We also have special “sorties” in search of something surprising. So, we constantly visit Meison L'Objet in Paris. Recently we flew to Tokyo to a shopping show, where they were looking for gifts for teens, some gadgets. We constantly buy for our "library" something new and interesting, so our visitors can create such a gift that no one has ever had before.

How many brands and product names are presented in the Gift Library today?

Today, it is more than 250 brands and more than 3000 types of products. Just imagine how long it will take to collect so many products in one store. And our carefully edited and categorized site will help people in finding the right thing. We thoughtfully approached the structure of the site so that it was simple and easy to use. In fact, even a child can easily buy something for himself on the Gift Library until his parents see it.

I would like to clarify once again one point. You offer on the site those products that do not depend directly on seasonal trends and those or other sizes. Please specify if it concerns clothes, shoes or something else?

Yes, so as not to upset those who give gifts and those who receive them, we do not sell clothes and model shoes on the website, because in these cases it is very difficult to guess the size. True, we have some types of shoes, such as open summer slippers or slippers, where the difference in one or half size is not so noticeable, as well as children's clothing, because it is a popular gift for newborns or for birthdays.

How quickly can a person who orders a gift on a site receive it?

Since the base is located in London, gifts are delivered on the same day in this city. All over England and other European countries - the next day. And if the customer is in Dubai, then the gift will be delivered to him in three business days. I really like that we already have customers from the Emirates. One of my mobile phones receives sms messages every time a purchase is made on the site.

And to each of this message I am happy as a child. It does not matter how much the purchase is made - for five pounds or five thousand, it is important that it is made.

This is the result of our work. And I am especially pleased with purchases made outside of England, because in the Foggy Albion they know us very well, and the site is very popular. The second country after England, where they actively use the services of our site, is America, and the third, oddly enough, Greece, although we did not do any marketing there. Now we are working hard to bring the Gift Library to other markets, especially in Dubai, as it is the center of the Middle East region, the personification of style, taste, welfare for neighboring countries.

What about Russia and the CIS countries, because you come from Kazakhstan?

Yes, we ship our goods to Kazakhstan. There are still small problems with Russia, because there are rather complicated customs rules. However, these problems arise not only with us, but also with other online stores.

Who do you consider your competitors?

Before the crisis in England, there were several sites similar to ours, but recently they all disappeared somewhere. On the other hand, we live in a competitive world, and this gives certain impetus to doing something better than others, to invent, not to stand still. At the moment, I would say that we do not have such direct competitors, that is, there is no site of this level that provides all the services that we provide.

Which brands do you most comfortable working with, and are there any brands that your customers most often respond to?

Of course, we have our own unconditional bestsellers. But still, we focus on gifts that are stylish and not trendy, that is, they will not go out of fashion in the near future. And in this case, the brand itself is not particularly important. The gift is important, as it is. We sell Anya Hindmarch products very well. I am pleased to work with the Nancy Rodriguez brand, because the son of Nancy Santiago is my close friend. In general, Caroline and I often build our business relationships on the basis of pre-existing personal ones, as we revolve in a certain circle where people are owners of their own brands and brands. Agree, it is always more pleasant to work when there are good connections. But, at the same time, we strive to discover new designers, not only well-known.

We try to find ways out for them, and establish cooperation. This is much easier to do now. It was difficult at first. For example, the first big brand we had was Jimmy Choo. After that, it became a little easier, because when we came to others and said that we had Jimmy Choo, the reaction was completely different. Today, with the growing success of the site, many well-known brands have begun to contact us with requests for cooperation.

What if the buyer wishes to purchase a gift that is not in the Gift Library?

In this case, our personalized service consultant is included in the work, who, after listening to the buyer and finding out who needs the gift, what is the person’s age, status, habits and hobbies, he will choose options, sometimes even from what is not on the site.

We often receive similar requests from our VIP clients, and then gifts are delivered to them specially for the order. Moreover, engravings can be made on jewelry and watches, the name of the person who will wear it is embossed on the bag, and so on. Naturally, such a gift will take a little more time, but there will be many times more joy from it.

For example, one of my favorite gifts that I have and which I like to give to my close friends is a travel bag made of pure cashmere, inside of which there are a cashmere thin blanket of the same color, socks and a sleep mask. My partner gave me this purse, and on the purse she wrote my name - Goga, and on the mask - “Do Not Disturb Girl There” (“Do not disturb the girl”). It is impossible to forget such a gift. Flowers can fade, perfume does not fit, and this gift will always be with you.

For example, you can also order luxury tea sets for one person from an exclusive French hand-painted porcelain along with an elite variety of tea. Such a gift costs only 21 pounds, that is, less than maybe a bouquet of flowers. I am for original gifts.

How can I pay for a purchase?

We accept all credit cards directly on the site. However, I understand that so many people try not to give their credit card information to the Internet. I want to assure everyone that we have a very serious security system, since we care about the interests of customers.

Moreover, any purchase you do not like can be returned to us. And if a person did not like the gift, he can also send it to us, and for this money choose something else for himself. By the way, only about 5% of our purchases are returned to us, and we always accept them back. If something breaks during the shipment, we will send the goods again. And this, perhaps, is one of the few drawbacks, but how many pluses the site has! Although, again, I repeat, people are different. I can’t get my mom to buy something in the online store. She can see, she will even like something, but she will never buy it. She needs to touch, try on, make sure her choice is true.

Is there any program of discounts or bonuses for regular customers?

We are working on it now, because we have a certain circle of customers who give gifts for many thousands of dollars. Some may even send us on Christmas Eve a list of people indicating wishes for gifts, and that’s it, here you go. And we are engaged. And this person does not need to think about anything else - how to choose a gift, what to pack it in, how to tie it, how to send it. We are doing everything for him. It is so pleasant for any of us to feel that someone is paying special attention to him. And with our help, everyone can get this attention.

You are so enthusiastically telling me that now I want to go to the Gift Library and buy something there, and also knock my friends and girlfriends out of it ... I would be happy if all the Russian-speaking people in the Emirates read our conversation with you, did the same thing. If we have many customers in this region, then in the future we will open our office in Dubai here with warehouses with gifts so that people in the Emirates can receive them on the same day as in London.

Goga, how did you get brought into the world of fashion and gifts?

I do not know. I have always been engaged in male, serious types of business - oil, gas, construction of substations. But I'm a woman, and one day I decided to do something like a hobby. Of course, I spend on this business only 10% of my time, but, nevertheless, for me it is a pleasure, not a job. I am pleased to talk about the Gift Library, which I am very proud of and that I believe in, and I do it effortlessly.

Is your mother proud of you?

I think yes. She really likes to be with me when something interesting happens, something to choose, try on. My mom is an avid shopaholic, she loves shopping and shopping. I am a completely different person in my warehouse, I hate shopping, nothing worse can be invented for me. Therefore, all that I need, those shops where they know me and in which I dress, bring me to my house.

I choose for myself everything that I like, measure and buy. This is where my shopping ends. But my mother likes my feminine business, advertising shootings, marketing trips to different countries. It is pleasing to her, and it gives me pleasure. Especially from the realization that we help other people. I want to spend more time on it. At one time, they wrote a lot about me. On the one hand, I was flattering, on the other, it was not clear what caused such an increased interest in my person.

I live the way I live, I do not expect approval or condemnation from anyone. I do what I consider necessary and correct. Now I want to use this interest in me in favor of increasing attention to my business. My other businesses, in general, are not needed. I am pleased to talk about less serious things.

Do you have time to rest? Where do you like to relax?

Yes, I try to combine work with relaxation and communication with my son. Now we flew to Dubai from St. Moritz, where we miraculously went skiing. It was not long, but very joyful. I put my three year old son on skis.She rides just awesome! I realized that this was the right decision on my part. He has no fear, and most importantly, he succeeds. We were very lucky with the weather - it was warm and a lot of snow. The next vacation will be in the summer, somewhere near the sea.

Here in Dubai I really liked it, so even work is not a job. There are such nice people, calm, not confused. Maybe someday I will come here to rest with my family. Here is a very beautiful international city where people from different countries enjoy working and relaxing together. I think I could live here easily.

What else in life brings you absolute joy and happiness?

I tell the children, it will be trite. However, in Switzerland, my son was the quintessence of my every day, especially when I saw how he was skiing and what joy it brought him. And my main joy every day is the message about buying on the Gift Library website, especially when buyers are not from England. It also makes me happy when a person who once visited our site becomes our regular customer.

Then, on this optimistic note, let me thank you for the conversation and wish as many new fans of your Gift Library site as possible. Hope to see you soon in Dubai.

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