Following a talk given by someone who left school and worked in brand management, Hindmarch told The Daily Telegraph, “I went back to my desk and drew a shop with bags in it, and my name on the front, and it was very clear to me.”
At 18, she went to Florence to study Italian and learn more about the trade that she had envisaged for herself. Noticing that a drawstring leather duffel bag was all the rage among fashionable women, Hindmarch borrowed £1,000 to import some bags to England. After sending it to fashion magazine Harpers and Queen, she sold 500 bags after the magazine wrote about them. She invested the £7,000 in profit she made into her fledgling business.
Hindmarch told The Daily Telegraph, “Between 1987 and 1993 I was on my own, at my kitchen table, which was quite tough. I was living with a friend in London, just off the Fulham Road, and it was hard to crack it. I see a lot of people at the same stage now, and a lot of businesses are lost at that stage. Then the Italian factory that I was using started to copy my designs, and sell them to Harvey Nichols. And it was hard to get the quantities right at the beginning – 50 of this, 50 of that – so I ended up moving the production back to the UK, and began to work with a lot of craftsmen, some of whom we still work with.”
Today, Hindmarch designs three collections a year, with products spanning handbags, shoes, luggage, leather accessories and beachwear. They are all imbued with a potent and unique mix of humour and elegance; Alexandra Shulman, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, says, "The brand inspires loyalty because people have a very clear idea of it and they identify with Anya the person." One of Hindmarch’s greatest successes was her ‘I am not a plastic bag' shopping bag, for which thousands of people queued up around the world.
Hindmarch has secured successive rounds of private investment in her business, that have helped her scale the business and grow it internationally. There are now over 50 Anya Hindmarch stores in 9 countries, including flagships in London and Tokyo, plus a New York flagship opening soon. Her products are also stocked in 10 Corso Como in Milan, Colette in Paris, isetan in Tokyo, and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States.
Hindmarch was the first winner of the Designer Brand of the Year Award at the 2007 British Fashion Awards, having been named Accessories Designer of the Year at the same event in 2001.
Hindmarch was awarded an MBE in 2009 for her services to the fashion industry, is also non-executive director of the British Fashion Council, a UK Trade Ambassador and trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and The Design Museum.