Profile

Known for her exquisite craftsmanship and the uniquely British wit of her handbag and accessory collections, wildy successful creative entrepreneur Anya Hindmarch MBE has come a long way since the days when, still a teenager, she could be found making Italian-inspired duffle bags at her kitchen table.

Since launching her first range of bags fresh out of school in 1987, Anya’s stylish designs, including 2007’s iconic ‘I’m not a plastic bag’ tote and her signature ‘Bespoke’ range of personalised accessories, have placed her at the helm of a global luxury accessories brand with annual turnover of £24m (2013) and 58 stores worldwide, including flagships in New York and Tokyo.

As one of UK’s foremost creative entrepreneurs, Anya has mastered the art of turning her designs and business into a reflection of her own passions and priorities, right down to running the business alongside her husband James Seymour, who is the company’s finance director and a fellow majority shareholder.

Anya has been able to nurture her business while maintaining all-important creative control by handpicking design, merchandise and branding directors who share her values. Her top table comprises staff with experience at some of the world’s most forward-thinking fashion houses, most recently with the appointment of Helen Wright, formerly Vice President of retail at Karl Lagerfeld, as CEO.

Ambitious to see her business flourish in the long-term, Anya does not shy away from risk, describing a recent decision to embark on a deal with a Qatari investment firm as ‘frightening and exciting.’  The deal has not only allowed the business to grow its information, warehousing and ‘back room’ operations, but has also provided a springboard for expanding the brand into key emerging markets in Asis including 20 outlets across Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

While Anya’s positioning of the brand in a global marketplace has won her business plaudits, the fashion industry is equally adoring.  The many awards her designs have garnered include the British Fashion Award for ‘Designer Brand of the Year’ (2007) and ‘Accessories Designer of the Year’ in both 2001 and 2014, attesting to the staying power of her unique brand and ensuring her status as British fashion’s ‘It girl’ for as far as the eye can see.

Proust Questionnaire

  • CE
    Where did your journey begin?
  • AH
    My mother gave me a Gucci handbag when I was a teenager and I will never forget how it made me feel.  When I left school I went to Florence and saw a bucket bag that everyone was carrying and came back home and created some myself – that was the start of my business.
  • CE
    What did you dream about being?
  • AH
    An opera singer.
  • CE
    What led you to ‘The Big Idea’?
  • AH
    Sometimes I saw in Florence and wanted - a drawstring duffel bag that I thought would sell in London.
  • CE
    How did you decide to go it alone?
  • AH
    I was 18, I was from a family of entrepreneurs. It felt natural.
  • CE
    Best anectodes from start up?
  • AH
    Just don't give up
  • CE
    Breaktrough moment?
  • AH
    First bag order from Bergdorfs and Barney's. First stores opening.
  • CE
    Did you ever want to give up?
  • AH
    No. Yes. No!
  • CE
    Most important mentor?
  • AH
    Joseph Ettegdui [Founder of the Joseph retail empire] and my Father for business.
  • CE
    What inspires you?
  • AH
    Art. Architecture. Craftmanship. Personalisation. British irony. London.
  • CE
    Your finest achievement?
  • AH
    I am good at parking (essential in London).
  • CE
    Best advice?
  • AH
    Work with people you love.

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