‘It was hard to know exactly where my place was.’

Julie Deane from The Cambridge Satchel Company describes how she lost her connection to the brand she founded after years of spectacular growth.

‘It was hard to know exactly where my place was.’

‘It was hard to know exactly where my place was.’

Courier’s Daniel Giacopelli caught up with Julie Deane for the Courier Weekly podcast. Julie is the founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, the humble UK-based leather bag brand that, in the past decade, defied the odds and became a rare phenomenon. 

But that story has been told. In this episode, Julie explains what happened after the success, sharing how and why everything went wrong, and what she did to get the company back on course. Listen to the clip above or read the story below. For the whole episode, click here.

‘It was hard to know exactly where my place was. When you're the founder and then suddenly you have somebody in who's an expert in marketing and you've got a CFO, you've got a CTO. Remember, I coded the first website and I'm also qualified as a chartered accountant – I always did the books. I had my fingers so deeply in all of these pies…

‘I did the logo. I did all of this stuff. I took the photographs of the product and my mother held a white sheet behind them and we loaded them up. It was all done like that and suddenly you think: well, hang on, this is now feeling like a very grown-up place with all these experts in. What exactly is my role in this? And that was a tricky time. 

‘I always felt very connected to the customers, to the people that followed the brand, even if they hadn't bought yet. They were very engaged on social. And I was always chatting to them. But, again, that wasn't then my area. 

‘So I got pushed mainly into the magazine interviews and the outward-facing PR, but not in the operations and the day to day and doing customer service emails in the evening when actually I'd end up just chatting to a customer. The customers that have problems are often the ones that become your most loyal customers, because they see that it's really important to you to sort it out. 

‘I just thought I can't do this any more because this brand is literally like another child to me. I brought it up from nothing. I'd loved it, taken really good care of it and did what I thought was best for it. But it wasn't. Enough's enough. So it was a bit of a swoop of the angel of death for lots of the C-suite and the house was cleaned up and the overhead was brought down.’

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