21 Aug 2015

CSC Insider – Meet Julie Deane


 Before I started the company, my job was

Primarily, being at home with the children. But I love to be busy; I was very involved in keeping in touch with my college, helping to run the Caius Medical Association as well as taking a real interest in my village. I was also Chair of Governors of our local Primary school board. That was quite a lot to be getting on with back when I had two toddlers.

Now, my job is

The best job in the world: running a brand that I have created with my mother, a brand that is now like a third child to me. I continue to be excited as the company evolves, as we grow, as we continue to strive to keep the spirit and culture alive the way it was when it was just me and my mum. Now we have an amazing team behind us too, it’s still very exciting.

To start your own company you need…

A very clear reason for why you’re starting a business. It has to be something that you care about enough that when the going gets tough, that you still keep pushing through. Sometimes that’s learning to code because you have to build your own website, taking someone to court because they’ve treated you and your company unfairly…you need to keep motivated and have the energy to keep pushing forward in times like that.

The one thing I wish someone had told me at the beginning of this process is…

I can’t think of anything and to be honest, I wouldn’t have listened. I knew what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and I was determined to get on with it my way. People will always tell you its harder than you think or if it was a good idea then someone would have done it already. You can’t listen to those kind of people.

A typical day starts with…

Being woken up by my dogs, they greet the morning with a boundless energy and joy – I wish I was as enthusiastic to start a new day. It’s a lovely way to start each morning. The second things is to let the chickens out, I’m always struck by how calm it feels to do something as mundane as going to let the chickens out. I give them water and take the eggs out…it’s a very tranquil thing to do. If it’s term time I’ll be taking Emily and Max to school then I head to work. I work two days in London, two days in Cambridge and the fifth day is up for grabs. Sometimes I have breakfast but sometimes I forget. I’m the kind of person whose nose hits the trail and doesn’t come up until the trail is done. It’s not unusual (as Tom would say) for it to get to midday and I find that I’ve not eaten.

The best thing about my job is…

The freedom: the freedom to choose the team that I’ve built around me who are all people that I really enjoy being with; the freedom to decide where I’m going to work (home, Cambridge, London) and the freedom to include my dogs in my work schedule, which I don’t think many employers would be keen on because they’re so big.

I can’t get through the day without…

A nice cup of tea and a biscuit at 11 o’clock. I also need to take a bit of a break from work and have a little talk with whoever I find myself with. Sometimes it’s good to get out and have a walk in the fresh air; people who work for the Cambridge Satchel Company often find themselves having meetings with me while I’m walking the dogs. Being outside is really important to me.

My favourite memory from the last eight years would have to be…

Going to 10 Downing Street with my mother. My mum has stood by me from the very very beginning; she had the same dream of sending the children to a good school as I did. The invite to Downing Street was part of the prize when we were awarded Red Magazine’s Red Hot Woman of the Year award.  All our work, and all the commitment had led us to that point. Anya Hindmarch presented us with the award and I don’t know what came over me, I burst into tears. I still have her hankie (which I have washed) but haven’t returned yet.

The most exciting thing that’s happened in the last week was…

Taking my children on a return trip to a Dude Ranch in Wyoming. We lived like cowboys for two weeks – we had our own horse, we had no internet and I held a rattlesnake. It was great.

If I swapped places with the Queen for the day, I would…

Enjoy meeting her corgis. I’d also love to properly explore the garden at Buckingham palace.

If I could sum up the Cambridge Satchel Company in three words, I’d say

Spirit, passion and audaciousness.


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