Cambridgeshire

Cambridge satchel maker wins business award

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Media captionJulie Deane said the internet had helped her produce a global brand

A woman who started a business from her kitchen table in Cambridge to help pay school fees has been named RSM Entrepreneur of the Year at the European Business Awards.

Julie Deane and her mother Freda Thomas started the Cambridge Satchel Company with just £600 in 2008.

She now employs 90 people and has shops in London and Cambridge.

Mrs Deane said: "Never underestimate a determined woman," and added she hoped her success would inspire others.

More than 150 judges including European business leaders, academics and entrepreneurs were involved in whittling down an initial 15,000 companies before deciding on 100 finalists.

'Guerrilla marketing'

Members of the public were also involved in judging entrants' videos.

Mrs Deane's company was one of 10 category winners.

She began designing her vintage school-style satchels in her own kitchen, and said she wanted to create "something that would last and keep looking good".

"I thought I could get it under way by using the 'Harry Potter would have had one of these' line," she said.

She did her own marketing, using a "guerrilla marketing" book, put posters in local shops and organised photo shoots in lifestyle magazines.

She now sells her bags in more than 120 countries.

"Looking at a £600 start to where we are now, using the web... you can build a global brand," Mrs Deane said.

"I remember our humble beginnings, though. I still have my kitchen table in the shop."

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