Starting out with just £600 and a sketchy knowledge of fashion, Cambridge Satchel Company founder Julie Deane created 2011's accidental multimillion-pound global hit, with her traditional unisex satchels taking up prime shelf space in some of the world's more coveted shopping destinations - from Dover Street Market to Harrods to Saks Fifth Avenue - as well as enlisting an army of A-list fans. We asked Julie to give us her advice to would-be entrepreneurs.
Photo: Cambridge Satchel Company
Trust your instincts: I got told by friends, manufacturers and just about everyone that there wasn't a demand for traditional satchels - but I was convinced that there was an untapped market so I stuck to my guns.
Keep it in the family: Working with my mum was one of the best decisions that I ever made - she never had the opportunity to have a career but she has a tremendous business sense and is as passionate about the company as I am. Even the idea for the design came from my children. For their birthdays I wanted to get them a traditional satchel like Harry and Hermione would have worn in Harry Potter.
Push creative boundaries: Once we had the core colours in place, it was time to experiment. The blogging community was great at coming up with ideas for how we could push the look and we're always asking our customers and suppliers about how we can develop new treatments and what they would most like to see.
Explore ALL the options: Before I settled on starting up my satchel business I made a list of every possible type of business I could start, ranging from a housekeeping service to cake decorating to events planning. I'm a very methodical person and I felt that it was important not to go with the first idea that I had. Make sure your road will reach your goal.
Don't get into debt: Everyone thinks they need to get a loan to get a new business off the ground. I started off with just £600 which was used to get prototypes created. From there it was all about a DIY approach which meant that I could remain focused and creative.
The internet makes it easier to reach a global audience than ever before: Cambridge Satchel started off in my kitchen in a small village near Cambridge. The internet has made it possible to reach customers worldwide with ease - it has never been easier to get a business off the ground! With a good product, determination and integrity - people will help you to go viral!
Stay with what you know: Cambridge Satchel started with UK craftsmen - it was easier to communicate exactly what we wanted. I have kept all manufacturing UK based as constant communication and commitment to the community are more important that making cheaply and in bulk.
Julie Deane shows off her creation... Photo: Cambridge Satchel Company
Blog loving: When we started out I didn't know a huge amount about the fashion blogging community (or indeed the fashion industry!) - but I wrote to them and explained what we were doing and I was genuinely surprised by the support that bloggers like Jessica Quirk, Carolina Engman and Liberty London Girl showed to the products.
Don't get ahead of yourself: Until last year, we were operating from my kitchen table (literally!) so overheads were kept to a minimum. The point where we started to realise that it was time to move out was when the buyers at Saks Fifth Avenue said they were coming over to visit our showrooms. It was time to expand.
Don't reveal too much: One of the biggest disappointments that we have encountered was when one of our manufacturers took our designs and set up a rival brand. Unfortunately in business you have to be careful about who you trust.
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