The name Anya Hindmarch is synonymous with luxurious, loveable bags. But behind the brand is Anya herself, she started her handbag line straight out of school when she was just 18 and built it into an international successful accessories brand.
So how did she do it?
“I am very lucky to come from a family of entrepreneurs. I started my business when I was 18 after an inspiring trip to Italy. For the first couple of years I worked from my kitchen table, often thinking, what on earth am I doing? All of my friends were at university, and I was a bit lonely. I was the designer, negotiating with the factories, I was the sales girl, the PR, the accountant worrying about cash flow. My youth was a benefit because I didn’t think about the problems, I just got on with it and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. I can still build a box quicker than anyone at HQ!” She told Iris Lillian.
She left school at 18, with A-levels and with no drive to go to university, which is what led her to Florence. While she was in sixth-form she drew a shop with bags in it and her name on the front, knowing that luxury handbag design was what she wanted to go into.
‘Between 1987 and 1993 I was on my own, at my kitchen table, which was quite tough. I was living with a friend in London, just off the Fulham Road, and it was hard to crack it. I see a lot of people at the same stage now, and a lot of businesses are lost at that stage. Then the Italian factory that I was using started to copy my designs, and sell them to Harvey Nichols. And it was hard to get the quantities right at the beginning – 50 of this, 50 of that – so I ended up moving the production back to the UK, and began to work with a lot of craftsmen, some of whom we still work with.’ She told The Telegraph.
Eventually, her eye for design got spotted by celebrities, with Claudia Schiffer being one of the first to be photographed with an Anya Hindmarch bag. She tells anyone who will listen that humor (and the ability to laugh at yourself) are assets for success, doesn’t take herself too seriously and is constantly working to improve her brand.
One piece of advice she has for young career girls? “As you leave the office at night, fire yourself mentally and come back the next day as your successor.”
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