When Julie Deane’s daughter, Emily, was being bullied at school, the frustrated Cambridge mom brainstormed ways she could earn money to send her to a better institution. With only 600 pounds to invest, Deane manufactured a run of purses modeled after the sensible school satchel she toted as a young girl in England.
Enter The Cambridge Satchel Company. Now in its fifth year of operation with over $1 million in revenue each month, the company is a frequent player in style magazines and international fashion weeks.
“The first magazine we were ever in was Italian Vogue,” says Dean, who was in town last week for a meet-and-greet at Cusp in Georgetown, and admits she never imagined she’d achieve such success.
Deane credits the bag’s popularity to its utilitarian and simple nature. “It’s a design that everybody can wear. It’s not flashy or gimmicky. They’re worn by everyone from school kids to college students to people who use them as workbags,” she says.
With no signs of slowing down, Deane — who, prior to selling bags, was a cellular biologist — is continually revitalizing the brand with new styles (a backpack, clutch), high-profile collaborations (Comme des Garcon, J. Crew), vibrant color options (neon yellow and silver) and monogramming options.
Her daughter Emily’s reaction? “She saw the little mini and said, ‘That’s what I’d like for Christmas,’ and I thought, ‘Well that’s good because I won’t have to go shopping,’” says Deane.
Available at Cusp, 3030 M St. NW and online at cambridgesatchel.com.