Skip to main content


Five vials of natural dye are in the background with five samples of the colours they produce on fabric in the foreground
  • Written byAlumni and Careers & Employability
  • Published date 15 September 2023
Five vials of natural dye are in the background with five samples of the colours they produce on fabric in the foreground

We caught up with London College of Fashion alumni and founders of SAGES, Emily Taylor and Alice Simpson. SAGES is a business specialising in natural dyes, that was part of the UAL Creative Business Accelerator as well as working with the Graduate Futures team.

Alice (LCF MA Fashion Design Technology (Menswear), 2022) and Emily (LFC MA Fashion Futures, 2022) started the business after noticing the lack of natural dyes in the industry.

“Synthetic dyeing is responsible for 80% of the emissions caused by the fashion industry. SAGES’ overall goal is to eliminate the usage of harmful synthetic textile dyes by providing a viable natural alternative that can stand the test of time.” – SAGES website.

We asked Alice and Emily a few questions about their experience setting up a business and their time at UAL:

How did your UAL experience shape your career path?

UAL is where we both met so it's more than fair to say that SAGES wouldn't exist if we hadn't attended. So much of our growth as entrepreneurs have come due to the help we have received from Graduate futures (shout out to Frances) and the workshops we completed on the accelerator. In addition, UAL has an amazing and unique network that has been a great asset to us.

How did you meet and decide to collaborate?

The business concept was actually created on our collaborative module  during our MA  "Fostering Sustainable Futures". Which is also when we first digitally met. As the first half of our course happened during the second lockdown, we didn't actually meet in person for almost 5 months.

A portrait photo of Emily Taylor

What does community mean to you?

It's amazing to be part of such a unique ecosystem, and we are constantly surprised by how willing fellow graduates, alumni and UAL itself are to lend a hand. Which we are forever grateful for.

What kind of advice would you give current students or alumni who want to work in Fashion?

Passion is important. Always keep in mind what it is you want to achieve be that your own brand, a better job or to expand your horizons. And don't be scared to work hard as that still the best way to achieve your goals.

What was the hardest thing about setting up your business?

All the areas we didn't have experience in, accounting, legal, patents, investment. We didn't understand any of that fully when we started this venture, there was a lot of learning on the job and googling jargon under the table at meetings.

What are the benefits of being a duo?

We balance each other quite well and being able to leverage our individual strengths means we have achieved more together than we ever would alone.

A portrait photo of Alice Simpson

What inspired you to create dyes out of natural material?

Once we learned of the immense damage caused by synthetic dyes, we just couldn't look at conventionally dyed garments the same it become very important for us to push for a natural and sustainable alternative.

What made you want to move from working with larger fashion brands to starting your own business?

It's always been a goal of ours, and once we had a mission we knew we could create more change by starting our own venture than we ever could working as an employee at an individual brand. Our reach is now far bigger.

What achievement are you most proud of since starting your own business?

We have now reached a point where we are planning our seed round of an investment, it's crazy to think that we are looking to raise such a large sum of money and even crazier that we know it's completely doable.

You can find out more about SAGES and follow their progress on their website as well as on their Instagram.