Anya Hindmarch overcame 'triangle of pain'

The designer behind the 'I'm not a plastic bag' campaign picked up the gong for Business Woman at the Veuve Clicquot Awards this week. But it hasn't been an easy road for Anya Hindmarch...

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 02 Mar 2016
Hindmarch beat Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30 Percent Club, and Ruth Rogers, founder of the River Café to become the 40th women to receive the prestigious Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award. Previous winners have included the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick and Dianne Thompson, Chief Executive of Camelot Group.

Hindmarch started her luxury handbags business in her late teens after spending time in Italy and spotting a business opportunity in drawstring leather duffel bags. She brought some back to London and began making her own, opening her first shop in Walton Street soon after. The company now has 57 stores worldwide, and the collections have been spotted on the shoulders of Emma Watson and the Duchess of Cambridge.

But Hindmarch faced struggles when starting out. ‘It was a triangle of pain. It’s hard to get things made - you can’t get the orders before you get yourself established. You can’t sign a lease if you can’t get your shop running. I had to do everything I could to get my shop open,’ she told MT.

In 2007 Hindmarch launched I'm Not A Plastic Bag with the aim of making plastic bag use unfashionable. The limited edition canvas bags, selling for £5, sold out within hours of being launched as thousands of customers queued to grab one.  In 2009 she was awarded an MBE for services to the British fashion industry. She’s also a British trade ambassador and non-executive director of the British Fashion Council.

Hindmarch says the creative industries are well placed in the UK, but businesses have to be realistic about the cost of manufacturing. ‘It’s more important to create in Britain,’ she said. ‘Made in Britain is wonderful but we’ll never be able to compete with countries that don’t have a minimum wage and where you can make things cheaper.’

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