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Julie Deane OBE

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Co-Founder and Owner, Cambridge Satchel Company

Cambridge affiliations

  • MA Natural Sciences, Gonvillle & Caius College (1987)
  • Honorary Fellow of Gonvillle & Caius College

Professional history

Julie Deane OBE graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1987, joined Deloitte and qualified as a Chartered Accountant before returning to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where she was the first Fellow for Development and the Registrar - the first woman to be appointed to this role in the 650-year history of the college. She set up The Cambridge Satchel Company with her mother in 2008. Aiming to raise enough money to move her daughter from a school where she was being bullied to a new school, she came up with the idea to make traditional leather satchels for the school children of Cambridge. She invested just £600 to get The Cambridge Satchel Company off the ground from her kitchen table. The company now employs more than 140 people selling to over 120 countries. In January 2014, the company raised $21million from Index Ventures.

Collaborations with prestigious designers and retailers including Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Christopher Shannon and Chris Benz have seen The Cambridge Satchel Company grace catwalks from London to New York. The bags have appeared in shows including Girls, The Good Wife and Gossip Girl and on the shoulders of celebrities including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung.

Deane is committed to preserving British manufacturing. She set up her own factory in 2011 as demand increased and has ensured that each stage in producing the traditionally British bags takes place on British soil.

Julie's achievements and roles include:

  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire receiving an OBE for Services to Entrepreneurship in December 2014
  • Winner of the RSM International Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the European Business Awards in 2012/13 (the first female to have ever been awarded this honour).
  • Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library, promoting its Business & IP Centre.
  • Ambassador for QEST, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, reflecting her ongoing commitment to British manufacturing and craftsmanship.
  • Guinness World Record holder with Virgin Media Business, having watched 160 business pitches over the course of 29 straight hours in June 2016 giving entrepreneurs the chance to receive funding to grow their businesses.
Photo of Julie Deane.