Julie Deane CBE created The Cambridge Satchel Co. in 2008 to help raise money to provide a great education for her children. She started with just £600 and now the brand is an export champion, selling its unique range of British-made bags into 100 countries.

All the bags are still made by hand and Julie now employs 130 people. “A focus on China and US could bring extraordinary growth over the coming years,” she says. She wants to use her 12 years of experience to help other entrepreneurs to generate lasting success for the UK economy.

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I want to use my 12 years of experience and network to help other small businesses and the UK economy more widely.”

Julie Deane CBE
Founder, The Cambridge Satchel Co.


What drives you?

I want to use my 12 years of experience and network to help other small businesses and the UK economy more widely – especially now we are recovering from this awful crisis. I’ve done this as Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library for the last five years. This is also what drove me to do my review of self-employment for the Prime Minister. I support The Prince’s Foundation and The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. And of course I do it through The Cambridge Satchel Co. and our investment in British manufacturing.

Tell me about your commitment to innovation?

We’re always breaking new ground, whether it’s by talking to start-ups that are growing leather in a Petri dish, or bringing back the 1930’s bowls bag, which is made to carry two lawn bowls. I’m also really proud that we have been able to create the highly complex doctor’s bag, which relies on a metal frame to open 180-degrees.

How do you grow in a sustainable way?

We repair people’s bags if they break because these bags are so beautifully made, they should never be thrown away. We use leather from the meat trade that would otherwise go to landfill. We cross-train our craftsmen in lots of designs so that if there is suddenly a rush to buy one product – as when Helena Bonham-Carter was spotted with our Bordeaux Doctor’s Bag – we can make what we need and don’t have lots of unused stock sitting in a warehouse.