Interview with Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company

I've professed my adoration to The Cambridge Satchel Company {mostly to my friends} long before I blogged about it. The satchels have the perfect mix of a consumer's dream product - impeccable aesthetic design, remarkable quality, and affordable.

When I was Googling aimlessly for more info about the said satchels more than two years ago, I came across the name "Julie Deane". For those of you who are still unaware, Julie Deane is the founder and owner of The Cambridge Satchel Company. Yep! She is the lady behind the now iconic pieces!

I was wowed by her inspiring story {thanks to Google Chrome Advert} more than her design ingenuity. She turned an adversity into a major opportunity, and prevailed! One of the reasons why she started the company was because her daughter got bullied. My son got bullied, too - I threatened World War 3 on the perpetrators. Too much? Julie Deane created an empire! Now, that's what you call an overreaction!

Why did I interview her? Well, because aside from making my blog my virtual vision board, I want this site to be a medium for inspiration as well. In a world of constant trouncing, inspiring stories are fundamental. It shows us that good things are coming, and that good things can be done... always.

After much contemplation and bickering {with myself, mostly}, I finally sent Julie Deane an email. After I hit send, I immediately regretted it! I was making a fool of myself! There was no way in hell she would take the time out from her busy schedule to reply to me. But, lo and behold, she did!

She's humble, kind beyond belief, and a super mom! Those traits made me realize that she's indeed the perfect choice to be my first inspiring success story interviewee.

Have you always envisioned yourself for greatness?

I’m not great and I don’t have greatness. What I do have is an enormous passion to make things better for my family, my daughter was being bullied and I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. I’m in no way saying that private schools are better, but in my case I looked at all of the options and picked the one I thought was the best fit for my children, I knew it would be a hard slog and so you need to believe it’s worth it. Not many things would have made me keep going at 3am!

How were you able to turn an ancient style school bag into a very hot commodity?

I made some subtle changes that make the bag better suited to modern life and I gave them colour. What a lovely bag, why does it need to be drab? I love bright colour – Benetton have always used primary colours and strong colours so well,  it was time we had that sort of choice on bags. We are tired of the throw away society and so to have well made, hand crafted bags, made in the UK from real leather – it’s perfect, why settle for less?

Success can make a person complacent sometimes. How do you stay on top of your game?

I have two children – they are 11 and 13, I keep trying to make sure I’m the best mum I can possibly be whilst showing them how it’s possible to grow and amazing company with strong ethics.

One of my barometers of a product’s success is when it is copied (inspired by copies, not knockoffs). A lot have released The Cambridge Satchel Company-inspired bags ever since yours came out.  What’s your take on this?

Inspiring others is great – the outright copies are disappointing. When companies have to copy every colour, every style, every colour combination that’s just sad.

The Cambridge Satchel Co.’s collaborations - Comme des Garçons, Basso & Brooke, and recently, Chris Benz - are highly anticipated and have become real hits. Are there any drool-worthy collabs soon?

We have some wonderful bags that we have made with Disney – they are a very unusual and fun range. The ultimate collaboration is in the pipeline, but I daren’t say more…

I read that what prompted you to start a business was due to one of the major parental wants (sending kids to the best school). I assume that you have that all covered now that your business has reached a tremendous success. What now are the things that you want for your children?

I want them to realize the hard work and effort it took, to be encouraged that such things can be achieved. I want them to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself and to always act with compassion and regard for the feelings of others.

What words do you live by?

Loyalty, honesty, passion! – don’t do a half-hearted job.

Do you have any advice for those who have deep aspirations to become successful someday too, but are currently in the rut?

Look at my story – I started with a budget of £600, I’ve never borrowed or been in debt – give it a go, there has never been a better time.

How will you grade (A to F) your life now in general?

B – room for improvement but overall very good.

Isn't she great?

Check out The Cambridge Satchel Company's Google Chrome Advert
The Cambridge Satchel Company

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