Wigston firm Cambridge Satchel Company is star of latest Google TV ad and sees sales boom
A bag manufacturer which has seen sales go through the roof has become the star of the latest Google TV ad.
The birth and growth of the Cambridge Satchel Company, which has its factory in Wigston, forms the storyline to the latest 'The Web Is What You Make It' ad for Google's Chrome search engine.
It tells the story via e-mail, blog, YouTube video and the internet of how Julie Deane recreated the satchels she loved as a child at her kitchen table to bring in income to support her family.
It reveals how she discovered ideas and manufacturers on-line, created a website, publicised the product through fashion bloggers, then watched as fashion magazines posted rave reviews.
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Today, Julie's business – launched with her mother Freda Thomas in 2008 – manufactures 1,000 bags a day in Leicestershire and turns over £1 million a month. A year ago, its annual turnover was £2 million.
Half the satchels are sold online, while the rest are sold through prestigious stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Earlier this year, Bloomingdale's New York store dedicated all seven of its windows to showcasing the bags during New York Fashion Week.
Celebrity fans include Alexa Chung, Fearne Cotton, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Kelis and Debbie Harry, while last spring the cast and crew of US TV show Mad Men were given satchels as gifts.
In the past few months Google's series of inspirational adverts have included the likes of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, as well as other organisations and businesses which have made the most of the power of the web.
Julie said they were approached a couple of months ago by advertising agency Bartle Bogart Hegarty and spent the time in between helping put the ad together. It was launched at the weekend.
Julie said the free publicity for the business was priceless.
She said: "We are so excited, and at the factory in Wigston they've all been looking at the ad on the computers.
"Google looked everywhere for some interesting internet stories and out of everyone they chose us. We were bowled over. When we finally saw the ad we were all so nervous, but it was better than expected.
"I think they chose us because right from the beginning we were using Google and Google Adwords and working from home.
"Now we've got the Wigston factory and are looking for even bigger premises.
"The free publicity is amazing. We are so lucky that they found out about our story because what we have done reflects the difference the web can make to a family."
Julie said she had looked at three potentially larger factory premises in the Wigston and Leicester areas and expected to double staff numbers from the current 45 when they relocated.
She still outsources some work to factories in Scotland, Wales and England, but invested in her own workshop in Leicestershire last year. The bags sell for between £70 and £130.
A Google UK spokesman said: "This is an incredible story of how a great idea can become a global internet phenomenon."