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From New York fashion to floral design – the NTU alum with an impressive online following

Whenever we encourage you – our alumni community – to get in touch, it’s difficult to know where to start. You always find the time and make the effort to share so many amazing and inspirational stories, there are rarely enough hours in the day to do them all justice.

Sarah Odgen
Sarah Ogden

That said, a recent message in the NTU alumni newsletter inbox caught our eye. “Hello,” it read. “I'm an alum from the class of 2002, Fashion Design (BA Hons) course. I’ve lived and worked in New York for some of the world's biggest brands (Armani, Gap etc). Having retrained, I’m now back in the UK running my own wedding floral design company. By the way, I also have an Instagram following of over 15k people. Would this be if interest?”

Colour us intrigued.

Sarah Ogden has indeed had a fascinating career, putting her NTU degree to very good use. While living and working in the US, she specialised in knitwear design, managed a team of designers, and oversaw a turnover of $500 million a year.

In 2019, all that changed. Sarah decided to return to the UK. We were keen to find out why.

“After graduation and an initial stint at a small design company in Nottingham, I decided to take a sabbatical and go travelling,” she told us. “I bought a round the world ticket and set off for an eight–month long adventure. I wasn't ready for it to end, so decided to pursue another dream – that of living abroad – and forged a career in fashion design in New York. I ended up working in the States for 13 years.”

It sounds amazing. We’re confused as to why anyone would want that to end. Sarah is happy to share.

“Working in the New York fashion industry certainly had its challenges,” she says. “It's a very fast-paced environment, very cutthroat and very intense. It was quite common for me to get to work, only to discover colleagues had been laid off and were no longer there. One day I arrived to find my boss had suddenly ‘gone’. I’d often work 12-hour days or longer – but it was an absolute dream to be designing clothes for millions of people.”

Sarah Ogden with wedding flower arrangement

Having returned to the UK, Sarah was looking for a new challenge – and to pursue another ambition.

“I thought I’d never leave New York, but after deciding to start a family, the homeward pull became too strong. I wanted my children to grow up in the UK.

“Before leaving the US, I’d retrained at the New York Flower School. After taking a break for maternity leave with my second child, I got to work following my next dream to set up Horseshoe Flowers – a floral wedding design company.”

Running a business in the Derbyshire Dales certainly sounds idyllic, but we assume it helps produce adrenalin – albeit in a different way?

“It definitely has its own stresses,” Sarah says, “but I work on my own calendar, take on as many orders as I want and am ultimately doing something I enjoy. It's so rewarding to be part of a wedding couple’s special day – helping them create their dream. The lovely feedback you get afterwards makes all the hard work worth it.”

Sarah is in no doubt the skills she learned during her studies have helped make her business a success.

“My core training in fashion design at NTU has helped me immensely,” she says. “I try and pay particular attention to the use of colour – creating mood boards, colour palettes, and stripe layouts.”

With over 15 thousand followers on Instagram, Sarah is clearly doing something right when it comes to capturing people’s imagination. Did that audience come easily?

“I'm completely self-taught when it comes to Instagram! When I was a student – which seems a very long time ago – It was in the days when we’d only just started to have access to email and  use computer design programmes. Social media was a very small emerging idea. It’s obviously advanced a lot since then. In fact, as I’m telling you this, I feel like I’m showing my age!”

Horseshoe Flowers

Sarah Ogden on Instagram