Anya Hindmarch started out as a studious 16-year-old, who turned her observation about handbags into a multi-million-pound fashion empire. She’s shown her collection at London Fashion Week, has been Glamour’s Designer of the Year, and has been nominated as one of the 25 most influential people working in Britain’s fashion industry. Proof that you’re never too young to start, Hindmarch is giving us some serious Career Girl envy, so we took a look at how she got there:
She didn’t let her age hold her back.
Anya Hindmarch was just 16 when she went to Florence to study Italian, and noticed that leather duffel bags with drawstrings were fashionable with Italian women. When she was 18, she took out a $1,000 loan to bring the style to England. “I think being young has been an advantage,” she has been quoted saying, “I’ve found people want to give you a leg up.” She had put the pieces in place to start an empire, however unknowingly, before the age of 20, simply by following the old adage: “Fortune favours the bold.”
She didn’t set limits for herself.
Anya Hindmarch came into her own by trusting her gut and going for every opportunity. Her first idea was to send one of her signature designs to a magazine editor, who featured it in a magazine. This lead to sales of 500 bags, all before she opened her first store at the age of 19. By 23, she had stores in London, New York, Japan, France and Italy. All of this from a woman who has no formal training in business or design—she didn’t see her purses selling in just one way, or in just one city.
She knew the value of giving back.
In 2001, Hindmarch launched her “Be A Bag” campaign, designing specialty bags to support the Lavender Trust, a charity dedicated to providing women with education surrounding breast cancer. Although it was meant to be a limited run, the bags are still produced and have supported over 30 charities worldwide. She also launched her “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” campaign, selling £5 specialty canvas bags with proceeds going towards environmental charities.
So there you have it, it wasn’t a quick and easy route, it took a lot of relying on other people and taking out loans to get to where she is right now!