We love the Bride’s Project! Hannah Lowe did a Q & A with her to find out more about them!
When did the Brides Project begin?
The Brides Project was founded in Ann Arbor in September 2011. It was modeled after a similar concept in Toronto. Helen Sweet, the founder of the Toronto The Brides Project gave her blessing to Monique Sluymers to bring the idea to Ann Arbor. Monique partnered with Barb Hiltz, the Executive Director of the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor, to create the shop as a social enterprise.
What is the purpose of the Brides Project? Do all the funds raised go towards keeping the shop open or are they donated to a charity?
The Brides Project raises funds for the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. The Brides Project is a nonprofit, operating out of donated space, by volunteers. The dresses have been donated, priced at a steep discount to retail, and then sold. We keep the overhead incredibly low (thank you to the generous donation of space by The Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Rd) so that the proceeds raised from dress sales can go to the CSC. A grant by the Knight Foundation funds the salary of one part-time staff person (me), and otherwise, the shop completely runs by volunteers!
Are all the dresses used?
The dresses have been donated, however not all the dresses have been worn. We regularly receive donations from other bridal boutiques (such as Bellissima Bridal in Rochester most recently) who give us sample or overstock dresses. Brides who donate their gowns have either worn them, loved them and want to see them live on, or they’ve never worn them for whatever reason.
How can women donate their dresses?
Dresses can be dropped off or mailed to the Cancer Support Community at 2010 Hogback Rd, Suite 3, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. We’ve found the best way to mail dresses is to gently roll them up inside of a pillow case – they can easily fit into a small box that way. There is a donation form on our website www.thebridesproject.org/donate that should be filled out and returned with the dress. That way, the Cancer Support Community can send a tax letter. A donation of a dress, veil or accessory is a tax-deductible donation as allowed by law, and we recommend that donors check with their tax professionals.
What is the average cost range of the dresses in your shop?
Dresses are generally priced between $200-$1000, however we do have some dresses that are more or less than that range. The average price of a dress is around $450.
Should brides make an appointment or are walk ins welcome?
Appointments are strongly encouraged such that brides can get the best experience in our shop. Typical appointment times are Wednesday
and Thursday evenings, Saturday and Sunday days. Our volunteers that work in the shop are incredibly friendly, welcoming and well-informed. Again and again, we receive comments from brides glowing about the time they spent with our volunteer bridal consultants. We do offer Open House hours once per quarter (typically on a Sunday), where no appointment is needed. Brides can also come on Wednesday mornings without an appointment between 9am and 12pm, however we are very lightly staffed that day, so it is first come, first served. No appointments are needed to try on veils or accessories, but we encourage brides to email firstname.lastname@example.org before coming to ensure that a volunteer will be on site when the bride does stop by. If no volunteer has signed up to work, then the shop is closed.
Do you provide alterations?
We work with a fabulous seamstress named Jan Lee. She is an independent contractor who schedules appointments with brides separately from us. She does offer great rates for brides who have found their dresses with The Brides Project. Brides do not have to use her services of course; it is just an option.
What things do you have other then dresses? Belts, shoes, and/or jewelry?
We have lots and lots of veils in all sizes and styles. We
also have an array of shoes, purses, tiaras, ring pillows and other accessories. We currently have a few belts and sashes, however they are quite popular and hard to keep in stock. We’d LOVE more sash and belt donations!
We also have a few flower girl dresses from time to time.
Do you have any men’s attire?
Nope – we are just focused on the bride at this time.
Where is the shop located?
Currently the shop is located at 1677 Plymouth Rd in The Courtyard Shops. Since we have generously been donated the space, we do move around every so often.
What are the hours of the shop?
We do not have regular hours since we are staffed by volunteers, but we are generally open Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6-8pm, Saturdays from 10am-4pm and Sundays from 12-4pm. We also have Wednesday morning hours from 9am-12pm, and every other Thursday from 3-5pm.
How can brides contact you to make an appointment to come look at dresses?