We call her the Satchel Lady…
M1: What prompted you to start selling traditional Satchels?
JD: About two years ago I was trying to find a satchel for my daughter – who was in her Hermione Granger phase… I bought several from eBay as that seemed the only place that I could find selling them (shocking in itself!). When they arrived they just weren’t right – that’s the thing about satchels, you know one when you see one, hard to pinpoint what makes one perfect but these definitely weren’t. So in a fit of outrage I decided to set about bringing back the traditional British satchel, which had to be made in the UK.
M1: Quite a few celebrities have been snapped out and about with your bags now, they are really starting to catch on. What are the future plans for the company?
JD: We keep having suggestions for new colours and styles – and unlike a big business we can listen and act quite quickly. So we now have green (see below) and we are working with Bobbin Bicycles on a bike bag. Then we have some coming that will have fabric on, and the embossing can get quite funky…. then how about a matching pencil case? or a gift box in time for Christmas with a polishing cloth and a little bar of saddle soap. This must be coming across as someone who needs to get out more.. how about baby changing bags (as suggested by a celebrity customer)? it’s very exciting, the fact that someone ordinary can start up a business that reaches the most glamorous of places – all from the kitchen table.
M1: Are there any cool colours we should be keeping our eyes out for?
JD: The green is fantastic, and the multicoloured bag we have made for Urban Outfitters is gorgeous and so now there are lots of multicoloured possibilities. Suggestions are always welcome.
M1: Are there plans to start selling your bags in stores? If so where could we see them or where would you like them to be seen?
JD: We sell to Urban Outfitters and Labour and Wait in London, then lots of small vintage shops dotted about – we list them proudly on our stockists page. Strangely no-one is as bonkers about satchels as us and so the full range can only be seen on the website. Oh yes and Pedlars have been brilliant – they had one of our red satchels (as seen in Italian Vogue, boast, boast) in a window of Selfridges on Oxford Street. I went to look and was so proud I could have cried.
M1: What has been the most exciting part/thing to happen since setting up the company?
JD: Seeing how proud my children are. My son (8) carries my business cards everywhere and hands them out constantly, he’s our best salesman. Then my daughter (10) helps so much and has great common sense and an eye for colour. My mum is the other director in the business and she is far better than I am with customers ordering by phone and general queries. The house is full of boxes but we will move into our first business premises next week, then the house will seem quite empty. Last week I won Cambridge News Businesswoman of the Year award, it’s lovely and sits proudly on my shelf ready to go into the unit. I am amazed at how supportive customers are, so happy to help, many have become friends. To reach the glossy magazines has been a huge buzz – I still can’t quite believe it.
The Cambridge Satchel Company
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18/01/10 Julie Deane is a famous satchel bag maker . 24 Green End, Fen Ditton Picture by David Johnson