With just £600 to her name and the unerring support of her mother, Julie Deane OBE has succeeded in creating a business worth in excess of £40million in just under 5 years.
Julie Deane OBE set up The Cambridge Satchel Company with her mother in 2008. Aiming to raise enough money to move her daughter from a school where she was being bullied to a new school, she came up with the idea to make traditional leather satchels for the schoolchildren of Cambridge. She invested just £600 to get The Cambridge Satchel Company off the ground from her kitchen table. The company now employs more than 140 people selling to over 120 countries. In January 2014, the company raised $21m from Index Ventures.
Collaborations with prestigious designers and retailers including Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Christopher Shannon and Chris Benz have seen The Cambridge Satchel Company grace catwalks from London to New York. The bags have appeared in shows including Girls, The Good Wife and Gossip Girl and on the shoulders of celebrities including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung. Deane is committed to preserving British manufacturing. She set up her own factory in 2011 as demand increased and has ensured that each stage in producing the traditionally British bags takes place on British soil.
In July 2015, the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, asked Deane to carry out an independent review of self-employment in the UK. The report was delivered in February 2016.
Deane has been invited to speak at various events to promote entrepreneurship, British manufacturing and to share her story of starting and growing The Cambridge Satchel Company. In 2015 Deane was invited by Jack Ma to speak at Alibaba’s ‘She Era’ conference, the company’s first event focused on encouraging and supporting female entrepreneurs. In April 2017 Deane spoke at Vanity Fair’s inaugural ‘Founders Fair’ at the personal invitation of Editor in Chief, Graydon Carter.