Meet the entrepreneur: Isabella Dryden, Founder of sustainable fashion business Saint Belle
16th February 2021
Northumbria University fashion alumna Isabella Dryden founded her fashion business, Saint Belle, to help address some of the issues around sustainability that have arisen in the fashion industry.
Can you tell us a bit about Saint Belle?
I was working in Manchester as a designer but I knew that I wanted to start my own business and I began to think about how I could make my ideas viable. I care about sustainability so fast fashion is a no-go for me. Instead, my focus is on producing a small capsule collection with a ready-to-wear feel. Saint Belle’s core values are sustainability, traceability and wearability. My fabrics are hand-woven in India using 100% cotton and 30% from a recycled source, and the clothing is all designed and manufactured here in the North East.
Why did you get involved in High Potential Startups?
I heard about High Potential Startups through a friend and had an initial call with one of the team where I talked through my experience and my business idea. I decided the programme was for me and after that everything fell into place wonderfully. I left my previous role the same week I had my first High Potential Startups meeting and I have absolutely loved it.
What’s your experience of High Potential Startups been like?
I think everything has really come together for me through High Potential Startups. I knew what my aspirations were but this has helped me to untangle it all and interpret my ideas. I’ve looked at every possibility and I feel confident in my business, and I credit the High Potential Startups team with helping me to get to this stage.
As a woman in business I’ve been really happy to see men and women of different ages and background involved as well. Everyone has a seat at the table.
What’s next for you?
My next big step is to launch my collection in March 2021. I’ve built up a following on Instagram and have collaborated with a number of magazines as I build up to the launch. I’m really excited by some of the messages I’ve received from other women in the region, including graduates and fashion students. I did my university placement in London with Jonathan Saunders and Erdem in both design and production roles and, while it was a fantastic experience, I want to provide opportunities like that in my home region. Maybe in the future Saint Belle can offer opportunities to fashion students here in the North East.
What would you say to other people who are thinking of starting their own business?
I think there’s a danger in saying ‘just go for it’. The biggest question that the High Potential Startups team asked me is ‘What is your why?’. For me, it all came back to the fact that, while I absolutely love clothes, there is no place for fast fashion startups in 2021 and this led to my business’s core values: sustainability, traceability and wearability.
Do you dream of starting your own business? Find out more about applying for High Potential Startups.