Julie Deane

If Julie Deane's story doesn't make you want to get and up and start your own business, we don't know what will. The mother of two children started out with £600, and alongside her mother Freda Thomas, has created a business worth £10 million.

Her story started with necessity - the necessity to get the money together to put her daughters through private school, after her then-eight-year-old daughter Emily was being bullied.

The inspiration for the beautifully-made satchels (our favourites are the fluoro shades) was a battered old satchel. When the two of them realised that no one really made satchels like that anymore, they spotted a gap in the market. Soon followed a mention in The Guardian gift guide and a spot on a Google Chrome advert. Their bags are now beloved by fashion editors, designers and celebrities.

The company was set up in 2008, and we wanted to catch up with Julie to find out what her advice is for budding entrepreneurs and how she handles her business and her home life.What were your biggest challenges in the early months?

One of the biggest hurdles at the start is remaining convinced that your idea is a good one as many people will be discouraging. Lots of people want to start their own business but relatively few do, and the ones that don't are the ones that will be discouraging - my mum and I heard everything from "If it was a good idea, then someone would already have done it" to "It's such a risk, you should take a 'normal' job" - keeping your determination and focus is key.

Creating the first website was also a challenge, it's easier now as there are some great template commerce sites on offer at very reasonable rates so that's one less hurdle. One less reason to be put off! I keep saying that it has never been a better time to start a business and I believe it, the tools are right there and the internet brings the whole world to your door.

Did you ever dream - a few years ago, that you would own such a successful company?

I didn't think about it, I have always worked hard at following up every opportunity and building the brand. Trying to exceed expectations of customers (individuals and trade) and not compromising ethics or quality.

What advice would you give to other small business entrepreneurs?

Give it a go, it's never been a better time to reach a global market. Don't risk what you can't afford to lose, that way you will remain optimistic, creative and happy.

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