Buckle up for the ride
This fashionable It-bag started life at a kitchen table, says Harriet Walker. Now the Cambridge Satchel Company is going to town
You can't walk down the street without spotting one of Julie Deane's creations; her Cambridge Satchel Company is one of the biggest success stories of the past decade.
The signature double-buckled schoolbags come in every colour – from traditional to fluoro and metallic, from transparent plastic to exclusive designer collaborations. From investing £600 with her mother three years ago, Deane's company now forecasts a turnover of more than £10m, and employs 47 people. She has even been the subject of an advert for Google, as a prime example of entrepreneurial execution and evolution online.
And this week, she transfers to "real life", with a pop-up store opening in London's Covent Garden, just in time for Christmas. The site will become a permanent home to the brand in February next year, launching to coincide with London Fashion Week, an event where Deane's conspicuously cool bags have been much in evidence for several seasons now, slung around the shoulders of the style set. "It's important to have a base," Deane explains. "Engaging face to face with customers is something we are very excited about – and about 'The Blogger's Lounge', which will offer fashion bloggers and press somewhere to have a quiet cup of tea and write. They have been so supportive and it's our way of thanking them."
It's all pretty impressive for someone who started a business so she could pay her daughter's school fees. Deane's bags have even made cameo appearances on TV, as props in Mad Men and in Gossip Girl, and she created an exclusive capsule collection for London rising star Christopher Shannon's spring 2012 show, and worked with Paris-based avant garde label Comme des Garçons.
Not only that, but everything from the shape to the moulding and the stitching happens within the UK and the company has recently opened its own factory in Leicester.
She adds: "Last year my mother and I were invited to 10 Downing Street. Having gone on this journey with my mum has made it all the more special."
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