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An Interview with Julie Deane; The Cambridge Satchel Company

What a year in my life it’s been, I have been through a lot in 2012 and accomplished many things I would never have dreamt of.  What was different about 2012? My blog gave me that confidence I lacked and pushed me forward and I can’t thank it enough. One thing I did do this year which really terrified me was doing interviews….let’s be honest going to a job interview frightens the life out of me, so conducting an interview on someone who has significant impact on lives was always going to to be a challenge.

I interview Stacey Solomon earlier this year at the Sky Ride and my gosh was I nervous! I felt anxious, was worried if I’d look a fool… oh the ridiculous thoughts I had were endless.  I obviously lived to tell the tale and did write about it but It had been awhile since the interview.

I’d done an email interview with the gorgeous BINTM winner Letita Herod which was perfect but I was now graced with a new challenge to telephone interview the fantastic Julie Deane from The Cambridge Satchel Company.

Julie Deane was somebody that without knowing much about, you could tell she was down to earth and people person.  I knew a bit about the popular The Cambridge Satchel Company that Julie launched in 2008 after decided to try to make a better life for her children, she had even stared in Google Chrome advert – which gives everyone a shortened version of how her life changed for the better. 

I had been at work during the day and was breaking for lunch early to get ready for my chat with Julie, to say I was nervous was an understatement, but I knew I would be fine once I got catching.  As my phone rang I was immediately greeted by the ever so chirpy, upbeat Julie, who suddenly had to leave the phone and chase after her boxer dog who had run off because someone had a sausage roll!  I suddenly felt fine as my dog Olly is so very food driven he would of done exactly the same!  After an initial chin-wag about how fantastic four legged friends were, and how much of an inspiration she was I began to ask her some questions about her famous satchels. 



Interview with Julie Deane from The Cambridge Satchel Company



you decided to create The Cambridge
Satchel Company did you anticipate an item such as a satchel would become
so popular?


I didn’t anticipate it would become as huge as it has become, but I really did think it was something that was sorely missing. That it was something that had dropped off the whole accessories – not just fashion just the whole accessories scene.  It’s just such a perfect clean classic design that, I really was surprised it wasn’t there anymore.

you launched your initial range, you’ve since produced the ever so popular Fluro Satchels . Were you surprised these became
such a big trend?


Oh my gosh, they were everywhere!  Literally about 14 months ago at New York Fashion Week that’s when they suddenly exploded, I remember seeing New York Times and New York Post doing Street Style features and they’d be talking about The Cambridge Satchel Company, Fluro Satchel and they literally were absolutely everywhere! People were quite brave because they are very bright!

 Did you feel inspired to
create the metallic range because of the popular Fluro collection?


No, we’d actually done some metallic before we’d done the fluros.  We like using printed leather, patent leather or metallic leather, the fluros were just something that when I saw it they jumped out and thought I’ve got to be bold and push this out there. I was very surprised how much people embraced them not just the ever so brave fashionista groups, but there was a huge appeal for them.

are now seeing the launch of your new limited collection of patent leather
satchels called ‘The Downing’.  What was
your main inspiration behind these?


The Downing was a bag I carried that was actually a bag made down at our factory, just out of the leather that was around – we were making oxblood and some navy ones and I had them make me one with those colours together and I really liked it.  I liked it so much that when my Mum and I won an award at Red Magazine Awards last year, (Red Hot Women Award) part of the prize was to go to 10 Downing Street and have coffee with Samantha Cameron. I took the bag with me and got so many compliments on it that I thought I must bring these out, as there must be others who will love them just as much…well judging from the reaction that I got when I was carrying it! Then I thought back to that really happy day with my Mum and thought I’m going to call it The Downing.


can be a very fickle industry, and something that is popular one minute,  sometimes won’t be the next – do you ever
worry that Satchels may not be the top trend someday?  What do you do to avoid that happening in the


We do a lot of looking forward and researching into what the new colours are going to be.  We try and always have something that it is going to be relevant to what people are going to want to be wearing, so if they like the satchel in a simple style because it doesn’t dominate your whole outfit, then they have it in a colour that will work really well for on trend colours. Then we try to bring out really unexpected things, so we brought out the completely transparent one and the fluro…some of the wacky things! Then we have the new bag shapes that will be coming out early next year, so we’re doing more to try and keep moving and keep the newness in there. I think there will always be a place even if it’s not a top spur of the moment kind of trend, but there will always be a place for a really well designed, very easy on the eye kind of bag like a satchel. It is a classic that will remain and it is just up to us to work on complimentary styles. We’ve also become known for collaborations, we’ve collaborated with Comme des Garçons, Christopher Shannon and Chris Benz and having really fantastic aided designers come out and put their slant on a plain no nonsense kind of bag, keeps the newness in there and keeps it moving forward.


saw the lovely Google Chrome advert
and just wondered how you came to be involved with that campaign? (I love your dog)
How much of that advert is true?

      Oh yes, it’s all true! They did an amazing job of telling our story in one minute!  The thing with the Google Chrome ad we didn’t have any sort of say on how it was going to be, we didn’t see it until 1 week before it came out so when we did see it I thought how on earth, because they hadn’t been involved with us during the 4 years that we had been going for I had talked and talked with them, we had them to Cambridge and to our house, shared our photos with them, and I felt like they got it but when we actually sat and saw the advert we were all in tears because it was so spot on – they really got it.   The other day we had an email saying it had reached over 3 million hits on YouTube now!   


you could provide one piece of advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, (knowing
what you know now) what would you tell them?


You might be aware of that other brand Zatchels out there, they were a manufacturer that we taught to make satchels, gave our designs and templates to, bought the leather for, and we had no idea they were plotting that behind out back.  I think that showed our naivety because we thought that all manufacturers that were certified that we had dealt with in the UK were absolutely fantastic and lovely. What I would say to people is be very careful of who you deal with, take a look at other people they deal with and try take up references, as this could be someone you will hopefully working with for a very long time.  It’s good to know about the people before you get completely associated with them, and try to protect your ideas as much as you can. Have a look on the internet as in the early days you don’t have much budget for legal stuff, so look for manufacturers agreements or non disclosure agreements.  Just try to protect yourself whilst not losing your enthusiasm, and don’t become paranoid about it because most people are really, really lovely but it’s best to try and protect yourself as best as you can –  If you can do this from the early days then you should be fine.


     How do you feel now when you see someone with one of your bags? 


Oh it’s just fantastic, It really, really makes me so proud! I have to say the people we do see with Cambridge Satchel bags on are so incredibly stylish, you’ll see them wearing the bags with an outfit so well put together and the bag just compliments it.  It makes you feel proud that your part of that look that they’ve obviously put a lot of thought into.  We never take it for granted that people have chosen to buy one of our bags, and most people that do buy from us come back and they buy again! It’s become a real community on Facebook and on Twitter, we always try to keep in touch with the bloggers because if it hadn’t been for the bloggers, I’d still be in the kitchen! Just trying to keep in touch because it’s a little more difficult when it’s all online, but we do answer loads of peoples emails. Oh we love getting photos of people asking what do you think of my outfit with my bag with it? That just really brightens everybodies day here when we see that.  It’s just so rewarding, then they’ll say look at me I’m only my holiday and I’m on an elephant with my Cambridge Satchel bag! It’s just fantastic!
than the satchel what are your favourite classic fashion must haves? 


Ohh that’s a good question! I’m a big believer in the whole less is more thing, I don’t go into a huge amount of fuss on stuff and so a really good black dress is a real must have. Whatever is happening at the time colour wise you can always accessorize it or add something bonkers like a fluro satchel to it, if you can get away with it!  
I have one black dress and I’ll give you an example; the day before yesterday I was invited to WGSN breakfast event that looked at trends going forward which started at 8.30 in the morning, then I had 5 other meetings in London that day and in the evening we were at an awards ceremony.  I didn’t want to go lugging a huge bag around all day with me so I thought I need something that I can wear for a breakfast meeting right the way through to an evening event… so I thought I’m going to my Hobbs black dress! I had some nice but low key accessories for everything in the day, then I had this really beautiful scarf that I popped into my satchel.  In the taxi on the way to the event in the evening I got out a little more make up and put the scarf over the black dress and I thought – I’m good to go! 

The other thing that is really important is that even though fashion trends come and go, along the way you’ll be given somethings, like I’ve got a necklace that’s my grannies.  It is really good to keep a cling on and to value those things that are special to you, because you don’t always want to be following the crowd.  I like putting together something and putting my grannies necklace on, it keeps me reminded of who I am and what is important to me.  I also have a little pair of earrings my daughter bought me with her pocket money when we went to Barcelona, she saw this pair of earrings I’d like and I really do, I really love them. I think it’s really important to have your own sense of style and part of that for me is wearing something special that means something to me.
but not least, if you could chose only one of your Satchels to keep which one
would you chose and why?


That would be my 15″ dark brown satchel my little boy gave to me when he was 9. He saw that whenever I used a satchel, it would always be one that wasn’t quite good enough to be sold.  He said you shouldn’t be using the ones that aren’t good enough, you started this Cambridge Satchel Company you should have the very best satchel, he plotted with my Mum as they tried to fish and find out what satchel I would use a lot.  For work stuff I tend to use a dark brown 15″ one that has a little gold J on it. Every time I look at it, I always think that mothers generally have a tendency to always take the one thing that nobody else wants – you always get the pink fondant fancy from the Mr Kipling box because the chocolate and the lemon ones are always gone, so there is always a tendency not to have your first choice!  Whenever I look at that satchel now I always think of my little boy saying that I did deserve the very best, so that bag is very special. 


Thank you
ever so much for allowing me to have this interview with you. You are a rare company that embraces the blogging world & comes across as being so delightfully genuine.


We have some exciting news that will be coming out soon, and I think that will show how much Cambridge Satchel is going to embrace the blogging world!

After I’d popped the phone down, two things occurred to me…1. I actually faced one of my confidence fears and 2. There really are some people who are successful in fashion that are down to earth and lovely to talk to!  Julie Deane is an absolute inspiration and if anything I truly gained from our talk was that if you set your mind to anything you can achieve it. 

 If you are at all interested to see some of the fantastic satchels that The Cambridge Satchel Company have to offer or maybe your Christmas shopping? Make sure you pop along to the website by clicking here




  1. December 5, 2012 / 7:19 pm

    wow!! i love the yellow and purple bags soo much!!! they are so beautiful and really hold up shape!

    and i agree with you… i mean, i haven't even seen Mrs. Deane in person, but she looks super friendly from the photo!!

    I'll have to check out their company website later. Btw, I clicked on the "here" link in the last line of your blog post and it does not work. I think you are missing the "e" in cambridge 🙂

    – sarah –

  2. December 5, 2012 / 8:42 pm

    Fabby post! Congrats on the interview, and conquering one of your fears 🙂

  3. December 5, 2012 / 10:04 pm

    Hi Sarah- thanks for the heads up about the link, just fixed it! 🙂

    My lovely fave dotty… Thanks Hun 🙂 she was so lovely to talk to! Xx

  4. December 7, 2012 / 9:32 am

    Thanks Danielle! They are absolutely wonderful! x

  5. December 8, 2012 / 4:52 am

    Love the colour combination in The Downing – seriously tempted now…
    Great job on the interview – facing your fear paid off!


  6. December 8, 2012 / 5:22 pm

    I know! I don't know which I'd go for they are have such a variety! I'd probably go for a classic! 🙂 xx

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