Below, Julie answers ......
What has been your biggest boldest badass moment in your career?
The instant I decided I was not going to hand the future of my company over to a manufacturer. I was already at a point where I was not willing to be vulnerable and run the risk that another future manufacturer might copy my designs, but the minute I was told I do not have a choice as I am ‘just a stupid woman’ – it became very clear to me that moment had arrived and it was time to make that bold move and open my own factory.
With no experience of running a factory and thousands of bags on back order it might have been a scary move, however we are now completely in control of our manufacturing, and as Brexit looms at least we know where our bags are made and we not open to the vagaries of whatever agreement is made. We can make prototypes and new designs and never be beholden to a manufacturer again.
Who is your business icon?
There are a few that stand out to me -
Anita Roddick. I read her book, and I was in awe of her passion, her ethical approach to business, and to do something because she simply felt passionate about it rather than to just make money. She did not compromise, and at the time there were not many women who were making such waves, the Body Shop is an incredible business and Anita was so ahead of her time.
I love Richard Branson approach to business – “Screw it let’s do”. The energy and drive in Virgin is fantastic and you can’t help but feel inspired in his presence.
Jo Malone is exactly the same. She has this genuine passion and love for what she does, she cares about people and there is such a humanity in her approach to her business and its impact. She stand out to me as a business icon.
Who is your (style icon?
Ines De la Fressange is the epitome of style and elegance. Her Chanel editorials and fashion quotes adorned my university walls. She continues to be my style icon in this age of fast fashion.
Who would be you love to have Sunday lunch with?
Holly tucker – Holly’s energy is infectious. She brings out the very best in you, she makes you want to raise your game and she sparks ideas! Holly’s Congregation of Inspiration event was one of the most well executed event I have been to and her attention to detail is second to none.
Sarah Cole -retired secretary for the senior bursar of my old college, Gonville and Caius. She is an example of how to enjoy your life and keep active and keep learning after you retire.
My mother – the wild card. She sees people as people and treats them accordingly. It doesn’t matter who is at the table she is the same regardless. I have yet to meet anyone who has not enjoyed sending time with her.
Do you have a mantra that you follow?
You know when you drop something behind the sofa and you reach back and you stretch as far as you can and you still can’t grasp what you have dropped? Well at that moment when all you want to do is give up as you’re getting cramp in your arm, DON’T – keep reaching, keep pushing until you grab what it is that you want.
Emoji that best describes you?
We live in an emoji world and sadly I am not an emoji girl.
Curly Wurly or Freddo?
Curly Wurly - it forces me to sit down and take a break. With a cup of tea, sitting in the garden – this is my meditation. A Freddo I can finish off in one bite!
What’s the last book you read?
I am an obsessive reader and always have three books on the go, the current read is: On Fire: The 7 Choices To Ignite A Radically Inspired Life by John O’ Leary
How do you relax and cut off from work?
Gardening – digging ,wedding, pruning, planting. It is incredibly uplifting to be outside and to be away from the screen. It is always easier for me to think when outside.
Your favourite creative space that inspires you?
The outdoors – nature can be a breathtakingly experience. Looking at an uninspiring space and imagining how beautiful it may look by bringing about a transformation. This is an approach I have taken to product designs. The bold colours of nature also work their way into the colour palettes of our collections.
Many of you may know the story - Julie started The Cambridge Satchel Company in 2008 from her kitchen table as a means to send her children to a better school, with just £600 and one fantastic idea the company flourished and within 5 years was valued at £40m. Julie has worked with many big names in the fashion industry, from Vivienne Westwood, Comme Des Garcon to Ines de La Fressange.
But did you know …
- Julie Deane OBE graduated from Cambridge University in 1987, joined Deloitte and qualified as a Chartered Accountant
- Julie was the Fellow for Development and the Registrary at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge – the first woman to be appointed to this role in the 650-year history of the college!
- Julie was the face of Google Chrome in ‘that advert’
- With the pressure of 36,000 bags of back order and firing her untrustworthy manufacturer Julie was left with one choice – build her own factory! First step … rightmove!
- Julie had driven the re-skilling of leather craftsmanship in her Leicestershire-based factory; taking on apprentices, engaging disillusioned youth and encouraging people to embrace the leather trade
- Julie was invited to Buckingham Palace to collect The Queen's Award for International Trade from Her Majesty herself, Queen Elizabeth II
- In 2014 Julie was awarded an OBE for her services to entrepreneurship
- Julie holds a Guinness World Record with Virgin Media Business, having watched 160 business pitches over the course of 29 straight hours
- In 2016 Julie was commissioned by the British Government to carry out an independent review on self-employment in the UK
- Julie was the guest of honour and keynote speaker at Jack Ma’s (founder of Alibaba) first Alibaba She Era Conference an event focused on encouraging and supporting female entrepreneurs
- Julie is the first and only woman to have ever received the RSM International Entrepreneur of the Year award
A day in the office in never dull when Julie is around – there are Shelford donuts in the kitchen (forget Krispy Kreme’s it’s all about Shelford Bakery), the boxer dogs – Barnaby and Isabella provide endless cuddles and the whole team analyse the hook up’s on Love Island.
Julie’s honest, smart and witty approach to work and life continues to inspire the CSC team to be brave, make bold decisions and to move things forward to make change.
Julie’s Favourite Bags
“My son bought me this bag when he was 7 years old. He had noticed that I only wore the satchels that were seconds or unable to sell. He said “You are the owner of this company and should wear the best satchel, not the worst one”. And so he saved up his pocket money doing odd jobs around the house and bought this particular satchel off our website (my mum cut him a deal on the website!). He had it embossed with a ‘J’ as he was only able to afford one embossed letter. Now it is 10 years old, it is very soft and the workhorse of all my bags – it carries everything, still looks great and it the ultimate classic satchel”
“The Emily is named after the young woman who inspired The Cambridge Satchel Company, my daughter Emily.”
“The Doctors Bag is an iconic and extraordinary design that was originally designed for function rather than fashion, similar to the satchel which was once used as a traditional school bag. In true Cambridge Satchel Company style, we have taken a classic British design and added a twist”
“The perfect day-to-evening work bag and the first satchel to be featured in VOGUE less than a year after I started the company”