Here Emma tells us her inspiring story of how she developed Rosalind James from an initial idea into the growing business we see today:-
I established Rosalind James aged 17 whilst studying for 5 A-levels back at my Sixth Form College in Yorkshire and designed my first laptop bag, The Charlotte, when I probably should have been revising! With the opportunity to spend a lot of time waiting in train stations whilst visiting prospective Universities, I realised that the women’s work wear luggage sector wasn’t providing what the fashionable working women were clearly looking for. Many carried two bags; a black boring polyester laptop bag (a dead giveaway for its valuable contents) and a fashionable, easy to carry handbag, all too often with the charger poking out the top.
From my keen personal interest in fashion and design, I knew that interest in fashionable workwear was growing and seeing the range of business luggage available, I spotted the gap in the market. My motivation behind Rosalind James was to create a product which was elegant and classic, and which would inject style into women’s business luggage, providing a practical, comfortable and luxurious solution to carrying your laptop.
With 5 A-grades at A-level under my belt and an acceptance from Exeter University to read Law with European study, I devoted more time to researching the industry in the summer of 2008. Having decided that Rosalind James was a viable business opportunity, I started to set some foundations including trade-marking my company name and registering www.rosalindjames.co.uk. After weeks of tirelessly searching for UK manufacturers who would take me seriously at such a young age and who were willing to produce a small test run of my laptop bags, I struck gold with a company based in Bury, and a few months later the first batch of The Charlotte bags was ready for sale.
With no specialist business training I had to dig deep and trust my gut instinct when pushing my business forward. I’m not afraid of getting stuck in, so undertook many of the fundamental elements of business development myself, including writing the HTML script for the website, organising a commercial photo shoot in London and training myself in graphic design to create the publicity flyers.
However the hard work started to pay off and by March 2009 I had created a fully functional e-commerce website which was ready to go. One of the difficulties I’ve experienced has been juggling running the business with studying for my degree at Exeter, as well as working part time to fund the business, but with good time management and an strong ability to keep to deadlines I’ve been able to continue growing Rosalind James over my time at Exeter.
Rosalind James in the market.
Rosalind James can be differentiated from the competition on several factors, the most notable being that our bags are design-led, created with the customer’s needs in mind. Every design feature has been made to make travelling easier, catering precisely to the needs of working women in terms of usability and the classic, professional aesthetic.
Other strengths include the fact that Rosalind James not only moves away from the traditional black, brown and tan leather but gives more choice than the usual “colours” offered on the market. The colour palette of cream and platinum combined with Amethyst, Sage, Slate or Rose leather provides a trans-seasonal range to cater to many tastes, maintaining the elegant and sophisticated appearance of each bag. The bags also have special features which set them apart from the competition, including the luxury suedette lining, the embroidered Lily design and the embossed RJ logo on the handle, making the product more desirable through the small touches and attention to detail.
One of Rosalind James’ key USPs, and a distinctive element of the company’s appeal, is its heritage and our commitment to manufacturing our products in the UK. The growth of international manufacture has seen the loss of many UK businesses in this industry. As such the manufacture of Rosalind James products supports British business, providing worthwhile trade in financially difficult times and also satisfying the growing consumer desire to purchase a quality product with a traceable source.
Emma Green ©