Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finally. It's official...I can say I'm a proud owner of a Cambridge Satchel!

Quick! Somebody pinch me!! Can it be? Yes. After all my obsessing, I have a beautiful bag courtesy of one truly remarkable woman, Julie Deane - the owner & ceo of The Cambridge Satchel Company. 

To see an email in my inbox from her directly came as a pleasant shock to say the see, I first caught a glimpse of these fantastic leather satchels in New York, specifically during Fashion Week. And it was love at first sight. 

I could have never imagined myself carrying a bright, neon-colored bag in a million years, but there was something curiously appealing about these fab "fluro" little satchels.....and I just HAD to have one. It was stuck in my mind! I was literally seeing these bags everywhere, well specifically on fellow bloggers and editors and stylists like Brad Goreski and I knew I was onto something good!

Julie and her team so graciously gifted me the "fluro" green batchel that you've seen me toting just about everywhere lately. And they made my little dreams come true even more so by embossing my initials in gold onto the bag. I am beside myself with this bag...I love it! 

You can't even imagine all the things I carry around...from file folders and my netbook to my cameras and make-up.

I was delighted when my new virtual friend, Julie Deane, agreed to entertain us with wonderful and thoughtful answers to some questions about THE Cambridge Satchel and so, here is my interview with Julie:

SSS: Okay, so Julie, Why a satchel? Was this the original idea, the first design? How did The Cambridge Satchel come to be?
JD: It was a very straightforward reason that my mum and I started the company, one that anyone with children will be able to relate to, my children were 6 and 8 - my 8 year old was being bullied at school - she had changed from an outgoing happy little girl to a solitary, quiet figure. It was heartbreaking and I needed to move her to a school where she would thrive and get back to the wonderful, happy little person she had always been. I found the right school but it's private and so I needed to make school fee money. I couldn't send one and not the other so I knew exactly what I needed and nothing would put me off, I was so determined. If you feel you are doing something to make things better, rather than sitting, worrying and feeling helpless then that's got to be the way to go. I had been looking for satchels for Em and Max for a while - we had been reading Harry Potter and there was no doubt in my mind that with that Hogwart's uniform the bag would have been a satchel! I couldn't find any that I was happy with and so I hoped I wasn't the only one looking. Thank goodness I was right and so both children have moved school and are happy as clams!!

SSS: Did the tremendous success of The Cambridge Satchel surprise you? Has it frustrated you in any way?

JD: The success has stunned us, I am thrilled to bits and the lovely people I have met along the way have been wonderful. The fashion bloggers helped so much and really spread the word - my business was started with £600 (about $800 at the time) and my mum and I worked from the kitchen table for the first year and a half. Keeping up with demand has been the only really frustrating part - I want everyone to have their bag the next day but they are made by hand and I was let down when one UK manufacturer I tried to help by teaching him how to make our bags and buying all the leather up front turned and used my leather to launch a rival range. Seeing my ideas and designs felt such a betrayal - I suppose imitation is a form of flattery but I have always treated the manufacturers fairly, paid promptly and been completely honest with them - this came as a real wake up call to the kind of people I had been lucky enough not to have come across previously and so Cambridge Satchel set up it's own UK workshops. 

SSS: What or from where or from whom do you get your inspiration?

JD: Cambridge Satchel works with such great designers and creative people, we have the nicest customers who write in and suggest colours or bags they'd love to see and can't get. A classic design, no clutter, a bag that will look great with any outfit, daytime or night, that's what we aim for.

SSS: Where do you see your fabulous company in the future? I'm vying for a U.S. boutique myself...and hoping San Francisco is a potential location! LoL! And I've probably just overwhelmed you beyond belief with that thought! =)

JD: Ooooh, I love San Francisco - my family was there this summer and it sounds a perfect location for a Cambridge Satchel boutique! my husband is American and we lived in the States when we were first married so it always feels like home. I can see a cable car with our logo on…. black and white stripes for Alcatraz (my little boy would love that!). This company grows through people with passion and so I'm up for it!

SSS: With so many colors and styles to choose from Julie, do YOU have a particular favorite?

JD: After the first year my son Max saw that I always used the satchels that weren't good enough to sell, and he said that I should have the very best, not seconds and he saved up and bought me one! It's a 15" dark brown with a gold 'J' embossed on the front. I use it as my work bag and it's very special to me. The other special one I have is one that one of the manufacturers made for me to take to Wales rugby games (I'm a big fan).

SSS: Finally, who or what has been your saving grace? Meaning, throughout all the struggles and successes of a rising company, what has grounded you and kept you focused?
JD: These little ones, remembering why we started and what's important...Every day I have my mum, who is now in her 70s, working beside me, Rupert (my dog and confidante) and the best team any business could have.

You can follow along with The Cambridge Satchel Company via FACEBOOK and TWITTER. 

Keep up to date with the latest news, where they're stylish bags are popping up next, who's been seen wearing them...and they've been known to do a giveaway every now and again...

Check out their website HERE

The Cambridge Satchel is going to be one of the HOTTEST accessories to find beneath the Christmas tree this year, no doubt. 



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