Cambridge Satchel Company, the maker and retailer of traditional satchels in bright colours, has been named as the NatWest Startups Business of the Year 2011. The company founded by Julie Deane and her mother Freda Thomas in 2008, won the Product Business of the Year award at the 2011 Startups Awards, before beating 12 other winners to clinch the coveted overall prize.
The business has grown 350% in the past six months and is forecasting a turnover of £10m next year, up from £2m in 2011, as it expands into America. The brand currently makes 3,000 bags a week, which is sold to 86 countries via the company’s website and through stockists such as Harrods, Selfridges and ASOS.
Commenting on the award, Julie Deane said: "This has been an incredible year for The Cambridge Satchel Company. Our bags were the toast of New York Fashion Week. Bloomingdales called us "The Brit It Bag" and orders from the US and other overseas markets have poured in."
Steph Welstead, editor of Startups.co.uk , added: "The Cambridge Satchel Company’s phenomenal success is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs. The founders have created a highly sought-after product in a notoriously tough industry to crack, while also going to great lengths to ensure their products are manufactured locally and to bring traditional craft skills – and jobs – back to the UK.”
The company, which started in Julie’s home in 2008, began with just £600 out of the desire to remove her six-year-old daughter from a school where she was being bullied. With no previous design experience, Julie created a range of Harry Potter-inspired satchels by visiting leather factories, which over the past five years has attracted a cult following. For 2012, the brand is planning to introduce a new bag shape as well as clutches.
Image: Cambridge Satchel Company