The wonderful fashion and lifestyle blogger (and dear friend of ours) Sasha Wilkins from Liberty London Girl has written our first guest post for the Journal. Sasha has been part of our CSC story from very early on and it seemed very fitting that she should feature on our new blog. We asked Sasha to tell the story of how we met and why she’s still carrying our bags today.
November 2011. I’m standing in a drawing room at Number 10, Downing Street, for a reception hosted by Samantha Cameron to honour Red magazine’s Women of the Year, of which, astonishingly, I was one.
Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. I’d already hid behind a pillar on Whitehall to change into heels, shown my special invitation card to the police officers manning the gates, and lodged my cellphone in a special locker in the entrance hall. There were a small groups of women dotted around the room, awaiting Mrs Cameron, but I wasn’t very good at talking to strangers back then, so imagine my relief when I spotted a face I thought might be friendly.
It was Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, and her mother Freda, looking every bit as nervous as I was. Almost dizzy with relief I made a beeline for them. And oh I was so right: Julie and Freda were every bit as lovely as I had hoped, and that day marked the beginning of a firm friendship.
Rewind: I was living in America back in September 2009 when I first heard of The Cambridge Satchel Company. A very nice woman called Julie wrote a charming message to my blog’s email address:
Dear Sasha, it read, I started The Cambridge Satchel Company just over a year ago – fed up with fussy, impractical bags, wanting a good old fashioned satchel for my daughter…. if you have a moment would you take a look at my site?
Many thanks, love your blog,
I was an anonymous blogger back then, just another girl with an independent blog, at a time when most fashion brands, and PR agencies, couldn’t be bothered with engaging with this new form of media. Unreturned ‘phone calls, ignored emails, blatant rudeness was pretty much the norm. So, to receive a charming email from someone who sounded like they got it, who was also an entrepreneur was a special thing.
We carried on communicating via email, culminating in that first face-to-face meeting at Downing Street – as you do. But that first email was why I was pretty sure Julie was going to be a lovely person to talk to.
Later on that awards day we all convened at the St Pancras Hotel for the ceremony itself. I will never forget Julie, who won an Entrepreneur award, bursting into sobs on the stage as she received her Perspex plinth and telling the room that she was astonished to find herself up there: like me, she had never, ever imagined achieving the kind of success in her business which would result in public acknowledgement, and I loved her even more for this.
Since then Julie and I have done much chatting, both in the ether and in person, and I continue to wear her beautiful bags all over the world, from carrying a clutch to the Vogue party at the US Ambassador’s residence at London Fashion Week last Friday, to slinging my classic navy satchel over my shoulder as I bike around New York between meetings.
I was thrilled when Julie asked if I would write the first guest post on the new CSC blog, and I thought this might be a nice time to write about how we met. I value both our friendship, and our work relationship hugely, and it’s always an enormous pleasure to see a British business thrive with such aplomb. Congratulations Julie and CSC – long may it continue!