The Light Novel series is the source material for the adaptation of the Anime and Manga series. The information and terminology on the article will be based on the source material rather than the adaptions.
The Gilberta Company is a store dealing in clothing and beauty products.
The company was established by a seamstress named Gilberta.
Traditionally a man (usually the husband) takes care of the selling and trading, while the woman is charge of the sewing the clothes. The actual ownership of the company is also passed down among the female members of the family.
The company began to grow in renown and size under Benno's father, and his wife began making clothes for nobles. However, the company experienced a decline when he was killed by bandits while traveling to another city. His wife died shortly after, leaving Benno to run the company and raise Corinna on his own until she reached adulthood.
Due to practically everyone assuming that Benno was much to young and inexperienced to successfully lead a company at such a young age, most of the company's employees canceled their contracts and moved on. Only Mark remained loyal and stayed by Benno's and Corinna's side.
Even when Mark's parents tried to use the Gilberta Company's weakened state to crush and absorb it, Mark stayed true to Benno and cut ties with them. In the following conflict, Mark personally crushed his family's company, driving them to ruin, and helped Benno lead the Gilberta Company back onto the road of success.
By the time Myne first meets Benno, the company is going stronger than ever and has restored its place among Ehrenfest's most profitable and influential stores. Their influence is particularly strong within the Tailor's Guild, leading Effa to fear losing her job if her daughter Tuuli failed to show the proper respect to Corinna.
Benno first meets the six year old Myne when Otto, who met her while working at the gate, introduces her and Lutz to tell the boy about travelling merchants. Realizing how foolish it would be to pursue this career, Lutz instead decides to become a city merchant's apprentice and, together with Myne, negotiates with Benno to allow them to become his apprentices if they manage to make a prototype of their plant based paper before their baptism the following year.
As part of the negotiations, Myne gives over the production rights for Simple All-in-One Shampoo to Benno, who renames it to the simpler and shorter name Rinsham. It's an instant hit and becomes a mainstay in the company's catalogue among rich commoners, soon followed by lacework hairsticks and other products invented by Myne.
Initially this doesn't cause any problems, since shampoo and hair ornaments are well within the lineup of the Gilberta Company, but upon offering paper and certain other inventions for sale, Benno starts to butt heads with rivals with vested interests. At Myne's insistence, he negotiates a compromise with the Parchment Guild to make parchment mandatory for official documents and only allow plant paper for other uses, to avoid the risk of the entire guild and all its stores being driven out of business by the cheaper and easier-to-produce paper, calming some of the tensions down for a while.
After their baptism, Lutz is given a lehange contract, but forced to admit to herself that she would be unable to work as a merchant's apprentice due to her poor health, Myne instead accepts the position of forewoman of the Myne Workshop, a subsidiary of the Gilberta Company. Shortly after, Myne ends up becoming an apprentice shrine maiden at the temple, but manages to successfully negotiate with the High Priest to be allowed to keep her position as forewoman.
She even manages to convince the authorities in the temple to allow her to open a branch of her workshop in the temple's orphanage to alleviate the horrible conditions there. With the income that the orphans generate from work in the workshop, they should even be able to sustain themselves, should Myne leave the temple in the future.
In part out of gratitude for the Gilberta Company's role in improving the conditions in the orphanage, the grey priests instruct some of the Gilberta Company's apprentices—Lutz among them—in the manners, language, and behavior expected of those interacting with nobles.
When Benno decides to expand his business into the territory of eateries, he also manages to get permission to have two of his employees, Hugo and Ella, trained in the Orphanage Director's chamber to make food worthy of nobility for his Italian Restaurant.
Benno's continued drive to expand and the massive profits they make from the new products lead to more and more problems with other stores, who argue that the Gilberta Company, as a clothing store, had no place in selling products so far outside their portfolio. It also causes Gustav, the master of the Merchant's Guild, to put up ever more vehement resistance against Benno, standing in his way at every opportunity. At one point, he even risked the ire of the Archduke to interfere with Benno, when he delayed proceedings that could have led to people coming to harm due to violating a magic contract that had been approved by the Archduke. It was signed and had already taken effect, but was not verified and thus not published by the Merchant's Guild.
To reduce tensions and share the burden of working so closely with nobles, Benno brings Gustav and his Othmar Company into the Italian Restaurant as partners, though it's mostly Gustav's granddaughter Freida and her cook Leise who involve themselves with it. Gustav and Benno also get swept up in the rushed construction and personal outfitting of the Hasse Monastery by the Archduke.
Even with the Guildmaster now more-or-less on Benno's side, the other stores of the city continue to grow more and more dissatisfied, so Benno eventually decides to form a new company. This leaves the production of clothes and beauty products to the Gilberta Company, while the new store handles all of the other products. His new patron and partner Lady Rozemyne is the one to provide the new store with its name: Plantin Company.
After Benno leaves the Gilberta Company, the store hires Tuuli. Thanks to her close connections with Rozemyne, she is even able to become a leherl. This relation with Rozemyne also opens many doors among the nobility to the Gilberta Company, who see their hairsticks and Rinsham spreading even among the highest levels of noble society. Upon Rozemyne's entry into the Royal Academy, they gain the attention of nobles from other duchies, as well.
Thanks to Rozemyne, the Gilberta Company even has the honour of making a hair ornament for royalty. Prince Anastasius, the second son of the King, orders a hairstick he would later gift to Eglantine of Klassenberg for her graduation. Both the prince and the lady are very pleased with the finished product.
To keep up with the ever rising demand for hairpins, the Gilberta Company is training ever more craftspeople in making them. While several of their workers have reached the level on which they can be trusted with working on orders for nobility, Tuuli remains the foremost expert for hairpins and the only person capable of achieving the necessary standards to cater to royalty. In addition to her skill in making them, she also showed a propensity for design by coming up with entirely new designs on her own, rather than just improving the quality of existing ones.
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. The Roots of the Guildmaster's Worries
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 1. Chapter 24: Meeting with the Merchant
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 2. Chapter 18: Why It Failed and How to Fix It
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Chapter 13: Result of the Meeting with the Vested Interests
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Chapter 11: Back to Paper-Making
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Chapter 24: Confrontation
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 3 Volume 4. Chapter 3: Benno's Request
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 4 Volume 3. Chapter 10: Meeting with the Prince
- Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 4 Volume 8. Chapter 16: Another Discussion and Making Rejuvenation Potions