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Mum who couldn't afford daughter's school fees makes 12million a year selling satchelsJulie Deane discovered her daughter was being bullied at school and vowed to send her to a private one down the road
She came up with a list of 10 ideas to raise money – one was selling satchelsShe started The Cambridge Satchel Company with a budget of 600
Now the company employs 84 staff and has a factory in LeicestershireFans include Alexa Chung, Elle Fanning and Fearne Cotton
00:18 GMT, 10 December 2012
When Julie Deane discovered her daughter was being bullied, she vowed to move her to the 12,000-a-year school down the road.
But unable to afford the fees, the housewife sat down at her kitchen table and wrote a list of ten ways to raise money.
Halfway down the list she wrote ‘selling traditional leather satchels’. It was a business venture which, just four years later, would generate an annual turnover of more than 12million.
Entrepreneur: Julie Deane started the Cambridge Satchel Company to raise money to send her daughter to a different school
Humble beginnings: The Cambridge Satchel Company, which was started with a budget of 600, has just opened a shop in Covent Garden
The Cambridge Satchel Company, which was started with a budget of 600, counts singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and model Alexa Chung among its clientele.
It is sold in shops including Saks Fifth Avenue, while Bloomingdale’s in New York described it as ‘the Brit It bag’.
Most surreal of all, however, was when Mrs Deane was this week named in the Drapers list of the 100 most influential people in fashion – alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and Stella McCartney. ‘How weird is that’ the 45-year-old said. ‘It is completely amazing. It is times like that when I think, “Golly, look how much farther we have come than we ever set out to”.’
The company now makes 900 bags a day and still has a backlog of orders.
Star fans: The satchels have many fans among the fashion crowd including actress Elle Fanning (pictured left) and radio presenter Fearne Cotton (pictured right)
Model customer: Alexa Chung is also a fan and is pictured with a blue number from the range
As the firm’s first shop opened in Covent Garden at the weekend, it is hard to believe that the multi-million-pound business began as a solution to pay private school fees.
In 2008, Mrs Deane and her husband Kevin discovered their daughter Emily, now 13, had been thrown to the ground and kicked by bullies.
She said: ‘Emily was eight when it became really apparent that she was being badly bullied by a group of girls. I told her, “You will not go back to that school next year. We will find you a new one and you will be so happy.” I had promised my child I would deliver and I couldn’t let her down. It was the trigger for me to start my own business.’
/12/09/article-2245651-166BB1A6000005DC-813_634x421.jpg” width=”634″ height=”421″ alt=”Popular: The company now makes 900 bags a day and still has a backlog of orders” class=”blkBorder” />
Popular: The company now makes 900 bags a day and still has a backlog of orders
Business started slowly and she sold
just one a week at first. But, determined to make it work, she left
leaflets in doctors’ surgeries and school receptions, and taught herself
to design a website.
said: ‘I chose satchels because I had always loved mine as a child. It
lasted me all the way through school, whereas my children’s rucksacks
became tatty and dirty within a few months.’
Cambridge University graduate had been enjoying life as a full-time
mother while her husband, a partner at an engineering consultancy firm,
was the breadwinner. But she immersed herself in books on how to run a
business and quickly found herself working all hours of the day from the
kitchen of the family home near Cambridge to keep up with demand.
it became clear the satchels were not being bought by mothers but by
the fashion crowd, she began experimenting with colours, initially
adding red and green to the collection.
Bright idea: Mrs Deane first thought about satchels when her children were reading Harry Potter and asked her for some similar to the ones worn by the characters in the book
Within a year she was selling to high street chain Urban Outfitters and the satchels, which range in price from 80 to 130, were championed by fashion bloggers.
The business now employs 84 staff and has its own factory in Leicestershire.
When asked if she always had a passion for fashion, she exclaims: ‘No, no, no. Any photos of me in the 1980s are evidence of that.’
She says the greatest reward of her venture has been fulfilling her promise to her daughter.
‘My daughter is so happy at her school. My proudest moment was when we went to get her school uniform from John Lewis a few weeks after I started the business. It was quite emotional.’