Fashion and philanthropy seldom go hand in hand. Regularly summoned as the catalyst for frivolous (and elitist) pursuits, the fashion industry and forbye, the bridal industry, has started to turn over a new leaf, as women all over America dress to make the world a better place. We speak to Erin Scharf of Brides for a Cause who proves that giving back is always in style.
Brides for a Cause is the tangible result of Erin Scharf’s entrepreneurial spirit. With a yen to re-purpose a never ending sea of nearly-new white tulle, Erin decided to dedicate her time to helping ‘share the love’.
“Thousands of weddings take place each year . . . that’s a lot of wedding dresses just sitting in peoples’ wardrobes collecting dust,” Erin says.
Part of the business model includes allocating a portion of the profits from each wedding dress, to a variety of women-focused charities such as Abby’s Closest and Brides Across America, through a grant-making foundation.”
“Anyone can donate, whether it’s a bride who wants to donate her dress so it can be worn again, or a bridal designer who has some excess stock. The only requirement is that the garment is no older than 2010.”
As the fashion industry becomes more supportive of soulful philanthropic endeavors through holistic ventures such as Brides for a Cause, designers all over the world are starting to jump on board.
“We just received 145 gowns from Australian bridal designer Suzanne Harward and we also receive regular shipments from Anna Campbell. It’s a privilege to be able to offer our brides such beautiful dresses from iconic international designers.”
So, what are five tips for brides who are looking to purchase a second-hand wedding gown?
1. Don’t assume all wedding dresses at a charity shop are used. At Brides for a Cause, we are trying to change brides” mindset when they think of recycled gowns. Just because gowns may be donated, it doesn’t mean that they are used, old or dingy and dirty. More than half of our dresses are store samples and overstock/discontinued gowns donated by bridal stores, designers and manufacturers – some with retail values significantly higher than that of our competitors.
2. Go Bigger! Bridal sizes run small, so we encourage brides to look at dresses in a few different sizes (about 2- 3 sizes up from their jean size). By looking at dresses in a few different sizes, brides will have more options, especially at bridal stores like ours because we don’t carry duplicates. Plus, dresses can typically be altered to a smaller size fairly easily with a trusted bridal seamstress.
3. Try on a variety of styles. Whether a bride knows exactly what she wants or doesn’t have a clue, we encourage everyone to consider trying on a variety of styles. Most of the time, brides will leave with something completely different to what they had originally envisioned.
4. Think outside the box. If there was a certain thing on a dress you don’t like or if a dress doesn’t have something that you want, remember things can be added, removed or changed. So don’t dismiss the dress with the bow in the back – just remove it!
5. Come back! Finding your dream dress at a charity bridal store like ours is all about timing. Some brides may find their ‘dream dress’ during their first visit, while it may take a few visits for others. Don’t get frustrated or lose hope – just come back! We encourage all of our brides to come back because we know eventually we’ll have exactly what they’re looking for and most of the time we’re right.
If you’re interested in donating your wedding gown or would like to know more about the donation process please visit www.bridesforacause.com.
For the online version of this article, please visit http://farewellfiance.com/sharing-the-love/