Deane seems to always have had a penchant for success. Dubbed an “unlikely fashion entrepreneur”, Deane became the Fellow for Development for her college, the first female to be appointed to this role in the college’s 650-year history. She then made her foray into entrepreneurship.
In a bid to raise money to send her daughter to another school, Deane came up with the idea of making traditional leather satchels for the schoolchildren of Cambridge. She notes that the inspiration came from her children’s desire to sport bags like those seen in the numerous Harry Potter movies.
She built a £13m turnover handbag business from just £600 in 2008 and didn’t pay herself for three years after it was founded.
And now the company is seen as a ‘Made in Britain’ phenomenon employing more than 100 people and selling to over 120 countries. Indeed, despite the pressure to satisfy demand with an overseas production model, Deane has ensured that each stage in producing every bag sold has taken place on British soil.
But, despite her innovative ways, she is perhaps best known for using the company’s success drive a re-skilling of the British population from its Leicestershire-based factory; taking on apprentices, engaging disillusioned youth and encouraging people to embrace craftsmanship.
This has earned her many awards, such as Manufacturer of the Year 2014, ranked seventh in the Sunday Time Fast Track 100 in 2013, being the first female ever to receive the RSM International Entrepreneur of the Year 2013, and now she is to be honoured by the Queen.
“It is a real honour to be have been awarded an OBE as the result of six years of incredibly hard work,” she said. “I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved as a company and this recognition is the icing on the cake.
“We are dedicated to manufacturing within the UK and to receive such recognition in Britain feels just right for us. This is the perfect end to an amazing year for us and we look forward to continued growth both here and internationally over the coming months.”
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