The Cambridge Satchel Company was founded in 2008 by Julie Deane and her mother, Freda Thomas. What started as a small family business has rapidly transformed into a worldwide phenomenon and now the Cambridge Satchel bags are distributed in more than 100 countries. On the constant lookout for new opportunities, this week they launched a pop-up in Old Street Station. We caught up with the Cambridge Satchel Co. to learn what brings a brand with a flagship store in Covent Garden to Old Street Station.
The Cambridge Satchel Company has launched a series of pop-ups, how do they fit into your retail strategy?
We’ve found pop-ups to be a really great way to bring the brand to new audiences in new locations. We have used popups to bring our collection to people who may not otherwise have access to see our bags up close – our Scottish pop-ups have worked well for this. It’s a great way for us to test new locations, get feedback from our loyal customers and explore new opportunities. We now use a mixture of permanent stores (our flagship is in Covent Garden and we have a permanent store in Cambridge) as well as pop-ups to allow our customers to touch and feel our products.
What is the most important thing to look for when choosing a pop-up space?
We spend time looking at each pop-up space to check it’s right for us. We look at what sort of people are there and whether we think they would be interested in visiting a pop-up store from us. Of course we have to check the footfall and whether it’s busy enough to justify having a store there. We also rely on our customers’ feedback on social media channels and will ask around to see if they’re excited about locations and if they have ideas for new locations too.
What have been your best performing locations so far?
Our first ever bricks and mortar store was a pop-up in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. We opened it in time for Christmas 2012 and it went so well that we made it our first permanent space in February 2013. We love Covent Garden - our founder and CEO, Julie Deane said: "Big brands are on Regent Street, high street brands are on Oxford Street, but Covent Garden is where people come to have fun”. We’re actually transforming the first store into a men’s store, opening on 7th June, and have opened a flagship next door to Apple on James Street in Covent Garden.
How have you adapted your design concepts for each store?
We aim to tailor each store to the visitors we will have there and are respectful of the local area we are moving into. For example, our pop-up store in Glasgow, which is currently open, has some exclusive styles using Harris Tweed. Our new men’s store, which opens next month, will have quite a distinct, tailored look taking inspiration from traditional British outfitters. Our pop-up in Old Street station has a ‘British Summertime’ theme, emphasising our Made in Britain credentials and sense of fun.
How do you promote your new stores – what at your best tactics?
We have a really engaged following on social media and love to talk directly to our customers and get their thoughts and feedback. They’re always quick to let us know when they like something we’re doing and have been so supportive of pop up locations in the past. For our Old Street pop up we’re using #CSCpopup to keep our followers on Twitter updated on the activity so that they can get involved even if they’re not able to visit.
Your currently appearing in Old Street Station, what appealed to you about this location?
We loved the quirky idea of a pop-up in a London underground station. It’s an interesting crowd coming through – a mixture of commuters, residents and tourists visiting Shoreditch and the 'Silicon Roundabout’. We’re also joining a great mix of other retailers. Christopher Shannon, who we collaborated with in 2013, also recently had a pop-up here.
What should we expect from the Old Street Station pop-up?
The space celebrates the best of British summer: an English rose garden, a fruit orchard and the traditional summer festival. Visitors can shop from the latest collection and are encouraged to interact with us on social media to be in with the chance to win prizes.
Discover The Cambridge Satchel Company pop-up in Old Street Station till June 7.