As with many entrepreneurs, Julie Deane exploited a gap in the market by making and selling products which weren’t readily available at the time – in this case, colourful leather school satchels. Two things, however, which immediately set Ms Deane apart from most, are the fact that (a) she has never paid for advertising; and (b) she has never borrowed any money in order to fund the business, launching it using a mere £600. Instead of advertising in the traditional sense, Ms Deane networked her way to success, using fashion bloggers, celebrity gifting, and word of mouth to raise awareness of her brand.
So successful was her marketing campaign that The Cambridge Satchel Company has featured in six international editions of Vogue and have subsequently been approached by the buyers of Harrods, Selfridges, and Bloomingdales in New York.
“I remember in the early days my husband said we should aim to sell 10 bags a day, which seemed a lot at the time,” Ms Deane says. “Now we make 3,000 bags a week.”
The Cambridge Satchel Company forecasts a turnover of over £10m for 2012.
Especially impressive is her commitment to the welfare of her local community and her fellow British people. Ms Deane offers youth apprenticeships in order to encourage old fashioned artisan skills and craftsmanship; and she ensures that all her satchels are manufactured within Britain. She also co-founded the annual Natwest Startups Business of the Year competition; sponsors the Cambridge Awards; and donates to various charities.