SATCHELS IT IS

 

Julie loved her old school satchel but you can't buy them anymore. Satchels it is. They quickly decide on a name, draw the logo and within (literally) a few hours, The Cambridge Satchel Company is born.

TESTING THE WATER

 

Julie finds a manufacturer to make her six satchels just to test the water. They're exactly what she imagined: 100% leather in a classic vintage brown and they sell very quickly.

OUR FIRST PHOTO SHOOT

 

Julie picks the children up from school one afternoon and they have Cambridge Satchel Company’s first ever photo-shoot. Julie pays our first models, Emily and Max, in lemonade and chocolate bars.

IN VOGUE (LITERALLY)

 

Julie and Freda begin to dream up satchels in other colours. Julie finds some bright post-box red offcuts from a run of belts at the manufacturers, and soon they have their first brightly coloured satchel. Italian Vogue call (can you imagine the excitement) to request a red satchel for a photo-shoot and they know they are onto something good.

IT’S IN THE BAG

 

Soon the satchels that were originally intended for students are now being picked up by the fashion pack. Bloggers and editors are excited about the satchels in a way Julie could never have anticipated.

A CSC CHRISTMAS

 

A big boost in sales comes when one of Julie's red satchels is featured in the Guardian Christmas Gift Guide. The orders are flying in and at first Julie thinks there must be some kind of glitch. They work hard to keep up with the increased demand - Julie's kitchen has turned into Santa's workshop.

SATCHELS ON THE DANCEFLOOR

 

Julie notices a recent order under the name of Sophie Ellis Bextor. She emails and asks, “Are you THE Sophie Ellis Bextor?” She confirms that she is the singer, yes. Sophie is one of the first celebrities to be spotted in a satchel and she's been a big fan of the brand ever since.

CHICKEN PIE + AN IMPORTANT CALL

 

Urban Outfitters call one evening to place an order, just as Julie is taking a chicken pie out of the oven for tea. That's a whole new level of multi-tasking.

COLOUR ME HAPPY

 

Julie decides it's time to make the next coloured satchel. She launches a competition with blogger Jessica Quirk to choose a new colour. The response is unanimous and the next coloured satchel is, what Americans refer to as, Kelly Green.

LET'S GET TOGETHER

 

Julie gets an unexpected call from Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons (also a family-run, kitchen start-up). He says he loves their brand (Freda says, “I didn't even know we had a brand!”). They decide to work together to create the first Cambridge Satchel Company collaboration; a real pinch-me moment for Julie and her mum.

A HELPING HAND

 

The designer Erdem orders a satchel and offers to help Julie and Freda on their search for the perfect shade of yellow as a new colourway (which was very nice of him.)

BLOOMING GREAT NEWS!

 

Bloomingdales get in touch to say that really want to start stocking the satchels in their store. Julie can't quite believe it - her bags are going to be on sale on 5th Avenue in New York! By the school holidays, the whole family are standing outside Bloomingdales looking at a window filled with Cambridge satchels.

SOMETHING PURPLE

 

Coloured satchels continue to be an obsession with the fashion crowd. From the feedback from their customers, Julie's mum thinks purple should be the next focus (the purple people are out there!) but they can't seem to find a shade they're both happy with. One day she finds a notebook from WH Smith with a cover that is just the right colour. The purple satchel quickly follows.

THIS TIME, IT'S PERSONAL

 

Towards the end of the year, the introduction of a hand embossing and personalisation service means people can make their satchels, truly, one of a kind.

FACTORY GIRL

 

Julie decides to take a huge leap of faith and take control of production. It's time to open the first Cambridge Satchel Company factory.

NOTHING'S GONNA STOP US

 

Three weeks later (despite the front of the factory falling off and having to be stuck back on), the cutting machines are in, the sewing machines are running and the first bag rolls off the line.

A VERY IMPORTANT REQUEST

 

One afternoon. Julie receives a very particular kind of request from the team at Elle magazine. Bright colours are going to be the next big thing and they want to know what's the brightest satchel Julie can make. Julie rises to the occasion and sends them the first fluoro satchel. A festival-goer's dream bag, the fluoro satchels are a summer favourite year after year.

THE ALEXA SEAL OF APPROVAL

 

In December, Alexa Chung is spotted with her small, but perfectly formed (and monogrammed), 11” Navy satchel. The nation swoons and everyone wants to know where she got that bag. Needless to say, it becomes the Christmas bestseller.

10 DOWNING STREET

 

To celebrate the award they are invited to Downing Street to have tea with businesswoman and Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron. Julie designs a satchel especially for the occasion. It is called, of course, The Downing.

RED HOT WOMEN

 

Julie and her mother Freda win Red Magazine's Red Hot Women of the Year award. “Oh my gosh”, says Freda, “I'm a red hot woman and I'm in my seventies. How about that?”

XOXO, GOSSIP GIRL

 

The Cambridge Satchel Company makes its small screen debut when the satchels are featured in the US TV show Gossip Girl and one is also featured in The Good Wife.

FROM ROYALTY TO POLITICS

 

David Cameron asks Julie to join him on a trip to China with a group of businesses looking to expand their links with the Far East.

NEXT STOP, BUCKINGHAM PALACE

 

The success of the company is now being recognised on a Royal scale. Julie and Freda are invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HRH, where they are awarded with the Queen's Award for International Trade.

INTRODUCING VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

 

In October the company launches what is, perhaps, the biggest and most exciting collaboration to date with none other than British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Julie and Freda can barely contain their excitement.

BIGGER THINGS…

 

The much loved factory in Leicester has done Julie proud, but an increase in demand requires an even bigger premises. The new factory is three times the size!

CAMBRIDGE, WE LOVE YOU

 

Not to be left out, the birthplace and hometown of the brand, Cambridge, gets its own store soon after.

A WONDERFUL THING

 

It's been a (very) good year but it's not over just yet. It is announced that Julie is to be awarded with an OBE for her services to British industry.

NEW FACES

 

Between the HQ and retail teams, there's a lot of new faces joining Julie, Freda and the ever-growing Cambridge Satchel Company family.

BONNIE SCOTLAND

 

The team take their satchels north of the border - opening pop-up stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow in time for the Christmas rush. A new satchel is at the top of everyone's Christmas list.

FLYING THE FLAG

 

In October, a flagship store opens in the heart of London's Covent Garden, with the new London HQ above.

IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR TAYLOR…

 

Taylor Swift is spotted at New York fashion week and back home in LA with her oxblood Twist Lock Satchel. The workshop has to work overtime to keep up with the demand for our fastest ever selling bag.  

SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS

 

Whilst men have always been keen to get in on the satchel action, Julie doesn’t want them to feel left out, so the company launches its first ever dedicated Men’s collection.  

A WHOLE NEW SHOP

 

The men need somewhere to shop too so Julie and the team decide it’s time to open a new store in Short’s Gardens in Seven Dials dedicated solely to men’s bags and satchels.  

 

GETTING SQUIGGLY WITH IT

 

The Cambridge Satchel Company and Vivienne Westwood collaborate on a second collection, featuring an iconic ‘squiggle’ print from the designer’s archives. This time the print is not only used on satchels but on some of the other best-loved styles of bags.  

 

BEST OF BRITISH

 

As someone who has been heralded as a British success story, Julie is asked by the Prime Minister to run an independent review on self employment in the UK. She will spend the next nine months preparing her report.