Julie Deane OBE
The Cambridge Satchel Company
For Julie Deane, it was personal.
A decade ago she wanted to raise enough money to be able to move both of her children to a new school. Very quickly, her fundraising scheme transformed into a fully-fledged business, The Cambridge Satchel Company.
Julie came up with the idea to make traditional leather satchels for the schoolchildren of Cambridge, and started the business in her kitchen with just £600 and assistance from her mother, Freda Thomas. The company fast became a household name and attracted attention far and wide for its traditional yet stylish designs.
The company’s success has allowed Julie to drive a re-skilling of the British population from its Leicestershire factory, including granting apprenticeships to disillusioned youth and encouraging people of all ages to embrace craftsmanship. Despite pressure to satisfy demand with an overseas production model, she has ensured that every stage in the production of every bag sold takes place on British soil. The business is now a “made in the UK” phenomenon that employs more than 100 people and sells to over 120 countries.
Last year, Julie was commissioned by government to write an independent review on self-employment. Her recommendations included preparing young people for a rise in future self-employed roles and the need for more flexible financial solutions.
As founder and CEO, Julie has committed the The Cambridge Satchel Company to supporting anti-bullying charities and varied education-focused causes.