Cambridge Satchel Company
We chat to Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company
The Cambridge Satchel could arguably be the most desirable accessory from 2012, hitting the big screens in a TV & Cinema advert for Google and being toted around in every size and colour imaginable by celebrites around the world. We sat down with their creator, Julie Deane to find out how she turned her home business in to a global brand.
How did Cambridge Satchels get started?
This is a business borne of necessity - my eight year old daughter was being bullied at school and I was determined to send her to a school where she would feel happy, safe and thrive. No motivation could be greater than making things better for your family. I had a budget of £600 and built the first website myself (it wasn't very good!!) but it did the job. I used a Google adwords voucher to get started and now, four years later we sell to 110 countries and employ 70 people - determination, a bit of luck and the support of fashion editors and bloggers, that's what made the difference.
When did you first start designing bags and what were they like?
I'm a perfectionist so I tend to redesign lots of things - tweaking them to make them more functional! my house is full of amended (I would like to think improved) items - from board games to kitchen gadgets, nothing is safe!!
Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere - the colours we add to our palette are those that make me smile, my mum and I see a colour and instantly know if it would fit on a Cambridge Satchel and add to the range, we are both big believers in following gut instinct.
What's the process involved in designing and making a new satchel?
We work for years on a new shape, just altering one measurement can make an enormous difference. We have a new bag shape that I believe is finally ready to launch but I work with Photoshop, paper cut outs, mood boards, cardboard models and hand cut and sewn samples - it's a long process!
Do you listen to music while designing a satchel? If so, what do you listen to the most?
No, I love peace and quiet - sorry, that probably isn't the answer you were hoping for. My life is very busy at the moment, quite hectic and so I really appreciate moments of peace when I can hear Rupert snoring and nothing else..
Which is your favourite satchel?
I am a big fan of the pastel duck egg blue we made in the summer, I also love The Downing - it brings back very fond memories of when my mum and I won an award by Red Magazine. Part of the prize was meeting Samantha Cameron at 10 Downing Street, it was a very special day and I had a 14" oxblood and navy, which we now call The Downing.
If you could design and make a satchel for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Ines de la Fressange, she is an inspiration.
Your satchels have been a huge hit among style bloggers and even celebrities, where you expecting this kind of reaction when you first started designing them?
No definitely not but what a wonderful turn of events!
Do you have any advice for people who want to start designing bags?
I think people should have the confidence in their own taste to design whatever they feel dissatisfied with, if they feel they have made a big improvement then contact the manufacturer - otherwise how will things change? and how satisfying to see your own ideas come to life.
What are your hopes for the rest of the year?
We are about to embark on a very large project that will be announced later this week. We are also in the process of moving into a larger factory - there is so much going on, but it's good to be busy.
What's next for Cambridge satchels?
When will this go out? I can tell you more about the project at the end of the week…...