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Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition 2021 Semi-Finalists - MA Candidates

5 garment workers posing, with one holding a sign in the bottom right that reads
  • Written byN Brathwaite and M Fields
  • Published date 03 June 2021
5 garment workers posing, with one holding a sign in the bottom right that reads

Twelve London College of Fashion students have been shortlisted as semi-finalists for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2021. The prize supports the creation of sustainable businesses, while championing ideas that will prime London for a greener future. It also serves to promote entrepreneurship as a viable career path for students and graduates and is delivered by the Greater London Authority with funding from the Citi Foundation.

The 5 winners will each receive £20,000 towards their businesses, along with guidance from expert mentors within City Hall and the finalists will pitch their ideas to a celebrity panel in front of a live audience. Students received support from our LCF Graduate Futures team, who support student’s career, freelancer and business start-up ambitions.

This year, some students have received additional support from our Collaborative Challenge team, who support postgraduate students to collaborate across disciplines and work with industry partners. We spoke to both BA and MA students and graduates of LCF that were shortlisted. This is our second article of coverage, where we focus on the MA candidates who have been shortlisted.

Feronia Studios is a new, small fashion brand that is striving for a more inclusive ethical fashion market. We are aiming to partner with local charity shops to purchase the items they cannot sell and use them as the base fabrics for new clothing, at a price point accessible to the masses, not the few.

Two models embracing in denim garments.

Emily Taylor from MA Fashion Futures

Emily is part of a team called SAGES and the other members are Alice Simpson from MA Menswear, Sandrine Schafer from MA Innovative Fashion Production and Gunika Wasir from MA Fashion Design Management.

SAGES is a Fashion Social Enterprise, using food waste to produce natural dye powders. We also aim to use these dyes to launch a line of clothing, made using fabric from unsaleable charity shop clothes. Community is really important to us, and we want to employ and train vulnerable members of the community, to equip them with skills to find meaningful employment in the fashion industry.

Various purple and yellow dyed fabric swatches on a table.

Jemma Battaglia from MA Fashion Futures

BONDED Studios is a re-imagined circular fashion company, that is taking the fashion industry's own waste of fabric swatches and regenerating this into new fabric lengths.

from left to right, thermal bag. thermal shirt and pants, thermal dress on a violet background

Kae Katz from MA Fashion Futures

Fibre Lab is a hyper-localised textile recycling service that uses a small-scale shredding machine to turn textile off-cuts into a raw material. We also provide sustainability consulting and educational workshops, to help fashion businesses minimise waste throughout their entire supply chain.

You were involved in the Collaborate Challenge, how was your experience?

The Collaborative Challenge was an invaluable experience, although daunting at first, I ended up pitching my own brief and selecting a team to help me accomplish the brief. It was a great experience, that allowed me to connect and really get to know students from other disciplines. The challenge presented me with a real-world experience of leading a team and overcoming obstacles. Specifically, Covid-19, which first arose during that term. Our group had planned to do an in-person event but due to the unforeseen lockdown, we ended up doing a completely digital project which was a great success and pushed us all outside of our comfort zones.  

How has the Collaborative Challenge influenced your current practice?

The Collaborative Challenge had a direct influence on my current practice, most significantly, it gave me the experience I needed to feel confident in leading a team, managing a real-life project and collaborating with other professional creatives. The project itself helped to build the foundations of what is now a start-up business that has gone on to win awards.

Circular coloured samples aligned on a laboratory table.

Yunjia Xing from MA Fashion Design Management

Xing has been working on Xi (Xtented Identity) with Ziqi Xing, also from MA Fashion Design Management.

Xi, Xtented Identity is a digital fashion gamification platform. Xi aims to create a green digital-to-physical fashion supply chain. This fashion supply chain will build interactive digital fashion for emerging designers and brands. 

Xi is developing a digital fashion copyright protection network that aims to distinguish potential design infringement. Therefore, this network will alert designers to protect their intellectual properties via digital fashion. We believe digital fashion will help the fashion industry to build a positive innovative future.

How was your experience on the Collaborative Challenge? 

We are feeling grateful for the LCF Collaborative Challenge New Enterprise Project. It gave us a full guide at the beginning at Xi.

Has your participation influenced your current practice?

The teamwork skills and business model knowledge still benefit us for the application for Mayor Enterprise Challenge. Not to mention, I met my partner Ziqi Xing.

Digitally rendered models posing in a fantasy world, next to an iridescent orb

Pamela Nicole Mejia from MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Phinix collects textile wastes from households and garment factories and transforms them into higher valued products such as shoes, bags, fabric and bricks that can be used to make furniture, installation walls, and homeware. A fun fact is that Phinix was one of the Top 5 finalists last year for the Mayor of London 2020. We applied again this year but innovated a new product under the Phinix brand name.

5 garment workers posing, with one holding a sign in the bottom right that reads "I made your fabric"

Beatrice Soncina from MA Fashion Futures

RE-GEN is a consortium of businesses from all stages of the supply chain – from raw material suppliers to manufacturers and recyclers – creating collaboration and knowledge sharing opportunities, for the production and distribution of circular and regenerative products.


The Collaborative Challenge

The Collaborative Challenge (previously the Collaborative Unit) is a unique opportunity for LCF postgraduate students to collaborate across disciplines to address challenges, provocations and concepts affecting the fashion landscape by engaging with current research and technologies, industry partners, alumnus and academic partners.

The Collaborative Challenge, which has been running since 2014, works across 17 MA courses and is worth 20 credits. This year, they received the biggest cohort of around 500 students.  Students work together in multidisciplinary teams and are assigned a member of staff to coach them and work against a provided a framework of support.

Collaborative Unit - M&S Partnership

The key aims are to provide live challenges/provocations that reflect what’s happening in the world of fashion. Students engage with live research, academics and industry partners in an 8-week project that allows them to pitch back on how they wish to address the challenge. The students have the wonderful opportunity to work in a cross course, cross school manor, realising their work with others through shared experience and ambitions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expand their practice and go above course specialism, thinking outside the box and choosing a brief that speaks to them.

The students draw their skills together in a multidisciplinary team, working through the project collaboratively and developing soft skills that are crucial to be successful in industry such as teamworking, collaborative practice, negotiation and conflict management.

Read more

Find out more about the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

Meet LCF’s Graduate Futures

Find out more about LCF’s Collaborative Challenge