President of Stribling & Associates, a high-end New York City residential firm with 200 brokers, including her daughter Elizabeth Ann Kivlan. The company does about 600 deals annually totaling more than $1 billion. The company is the exclusive sales agent for the Plaza Hotel Residences. Stribling founded the company in 1980 with partner Connie Tysen.
What is your full name?
Elizabeth French Stribling. French was my grandmother’s maiden name.
Is your family French?
No, but I’m a great, great Francophile. I have a home in the South of France, an apartment in Paris, and I’m involved in many, many Franco American cultural and charitable societies.
What is your birth date?
August 7, 1944.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Atlanta, Ga. I have lived in New York City since I was 7 years old. I first lived in the Sutton Place area, and then we moved to East 79th Street. I would go down to Georgia every summer to visit my grandmother and my great aunt. I would curtsy. I would pass hors d’oeuvres. I would get all starched up and be on call when all the callers [their friends] came.
Where do you live?
I live in a townhouse on East 84th Street. I rent it. But I’m moving to [a $6.6 million condo at] One Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn Heights.
Why are you moving to Brooklyn?
I thought it would be nice to move to a condominium, high in the sky, with a fabulous view. People think I look a certain way, but I’ve got a real sense of adventure. I don’t consider myself a stuffy person at all. I’ve been going to Brooklyn for 20 years, going out to all of the productions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and to all sorts of ethnic neighborhoods. Brooklyn’s a pretty swell place.
Why didn’t you buy in the Plaza?
Coming from a house, I wanted more space than I myself could have afforded at the Plaza. I’m a real estate broker. I’m not the mogul type that is buying into the Plaza.
Do you have any pets?
I used to have a Jack Russell terrier. He went to dog heaven about five years ago. His name was Franklin, and I was crazy about him. He would go to the South of France with me all the time. Franklin liked France, he loved French food and he understood French.
What was the first job you ever had?
During a summer vacation from Vassar I worked at Revlon as a receptionist, [then] in accounts payable, [then] for the chairman of the board [and later] the president. I got, that summer, the equivalent of a Harvard Business School education.
When you founded your firm, did you have a mentor?
No. Connie and I met our accountant at Schrafft’s [restaurant and ice cream shop]. We said we wanted to form a real estate firm, and I mean, he looked at these two dizzy dames like we were absolutely crazy and it wouldn’t last long. I still use the same accountant, and he laughs every time he looks at the annual statements.
Are you a socialite?
I go to a lot of parties and I participate in a lot of charitable events in New York, so I’m a gal about town, but I think the word has a pejorative connotation.
If you weren’t in real estate, what would you be doing?
I’d be an actress.
What kind of actress?
I’m hoping a fabulous actress.
Did you ever pursue acting?
Yes,I did summer stock at the Gateway [Playhouse] in Bellport, Long Island,when I was 18 years old. I acted in all the things at Hewitt.
What did you think you’d be when you grew up?
I thought I would get married, live on Park Avenue, have two kids and a dog. That’s what everyone else did when I was 14.
Do you ever throw on jeans and a T-shirt, wear no makeup and not style your hair?
Probably not, but I can tell you this: Practically all my Saturdays, I’m in my dressing gown all day long surrounded by piles of the New York Times, piles of books, just having the most marvelous lazy, lazy day. So I don’t get dressed on Saturdays or go out.
What is your husband up to then?
He is in his study on the computer, and he really leaves me alone. We meet for lunch in the kitchen and have a fabulous kind of catch-up and go over all sorts of things.
Do you cook at all?
I love to cook.
Do you have a specialty dish?
I’ll tell you what I made for dinner this week. I started off with a butternut squash soup garnished with Stilton [cheese], toasted nuts and sage. I made that myself from scratch. Then I made medallions of saddle of lamb with a sweet roasted garlic cream sauce. I made gaufrette potatoes, which you make on a mandoline. They’re like crispy homemade potato chips. For dessert, I made my signature dessert dish, which is a hazelnut cheesecake. You roast the hazelnuts, you grind them all up and put them in the cake. My guests seemed to enjoy it a lot.
Who is the boss at home — you or your husband?
I plan the schedule.
What does he do?
He cheerfully puts on his dinner jacket and dancing shoes practically every night and accompanies me around New York.
By Lauren Elkies