Nobody likes being called stupid, and neither did a mom of two in the United Kingdom who was called “stupid” by her manufacturer who tried to undermine her startup business when it was on the rise. Angered by his audacity, she made an unexpected decision on the spot—and her business has gone from strength to strength since then.
In 2007, when Julie Deane saw her 8-year-old daughter, Emily, losing her extrovert personality after she was bullied, she decided to send her children to a private school and started a business so as to earn enough money to support their education.
Deane, who has worked as an accountant and university employee before, thought hard about her business and decided on making traditional satchels for school children. The reason was that she had a hard time finding traditional satchels for her two children.
With just 600 pounds (approx. US$775) to spare, she turned that small amount into a $65 million business called The Cambridge Satchel Company. Within five years, she was selling to 120 countries worldwide, and many celebrities like Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung have worn her satchels.
“That’s kind of like gamble money. It isn’t allocated to anything, so I thought, ‘This will be fine, that’s what you call seed capital right?’” she said at the Vanity Fair Founders Fair that was held in New York City in 2017, per CNBC.
She says that she’s lucky that everything worked out.
“I am really really lucky because I am a very awkward person and so I tend to get really irritated when things don’t work properly,” she said.
She started her first prototype by wrapping up a few old cereal boxes with brown paper and came up with the company name.
Next, she designed the company logo with Microsoft Paint and asked her mom to help her out. She even created a website herself.
In 2010, she sent some neon-colored satchels to fashion bloggers for them to wear at the New York Fashion Week, as she couldn’t afford to fly over herself.
After the event ended, she was flabbergasted to receive 16,000 orders!
As her manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the orders, she engaged a larger manufacturer but soon learned from one employee that the owner was making copycat bags with her leather.
When she confronted the manufacturer about this, he said, “Because you’re a stupid woman and you don’t know about manufacturing.”
Irritated, she told all the staff at the factory that she would set up a factory nearby and invited them to email her if they wanted to work with her.
Three weeks later, it became a reality—she hired everyone except two “rude” employees.
Through her journey of establishing the business, she realized something.
“The really important thing I realize now is that nobody will ever care about my business as much as me,” she said after seeing her company slowed down due to the bureaucracy caused by having too many investors.
But at the end of the day, she created the business to send her children to a private school.
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