On March 12 we had the honor to visit The Brides Project
, located on Plymouth Rd in Ann Arbor. It is a Bridal Shop specializing in selling high-quality donated gowns, whose proceeds benefit the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor
. Their business survives on many donated items (such as amenities, marketing materials, etc) so all of the proceeds from retail sales go directly to the Cancer Support Community. While there, we asked Jacquie Willis
, Special Projects Coordinator for The Brides Project a few questions about the business:
What are some brands that you frequently see?
We currently have 450+ gowns in stock by designers such as Casablanca, Pronovias, Casablanca, Mori Lee, Demetrios and Moonlight just to name a few!
What if you receive a donated dress that is dirty or really outdated?
The Brides Project has a dedicated committee of volunteers who work to clean gowns that come in and are not quite showroom ready. The volunteers take the gowns home and often spend numerous hours working to clean the gowns by hand or washing them in front loading wash machines whenever possible. For our most exquisite gowns we rely on our partnership with Janet Davis Cleaners based in Royal Oak to return a couture gowns as close as possible to their original condition. Janet Davis Cleaners generously donates their services to The Brides Project. The Brides Project never says no to any dress! However not all dresses end up being featured in our shop for resale. Vintage gowns are often purchased by crafters, or stores specializing in such clothing, while some other gowns are reserved for marketing purposes such as window displays, or worn by volunteers and volunteer organizations who will wear the gowns at community based events.
A fabric bouquet created by a local artist from some of the more out-dated dresses donated to the shop, available for sale
Since opening in September 2011, we have raised nearly $100,000 through the sale of gowns and accessories.
The Toronto Brides Project graciously allowed us to open our shop using their time-tested model and guidance. We are independent from one another but strive for the same goals. We are very grateful to Helen Sweet for allowing us to do what we do here. If Brides find themselves in the TO area we encourage them to visit them. They are amazing!
A special story behind one of the shop’s most expensive dresses, a Vera Wang, which we were lucky enough to see in person while we were there:
This Vera Wang is a Light Ivory, strapless, elegant gown with lace organza overlay. Waistline includes a ribbon sash with a flower detailing on the front. It has a slim A-line skirt a is layered in beautiful lace and does not have a train but does have simple buttons down the back. The Vera Wang originally retailed for $13,000.00 and was donated to The Brides Project by a lovely bride from the greater Chicago area who heard about The Brides Project while undergoing cancer treatments at U of M. The gown was promptly shipped to The Bride’s after the wedding in the fall of 2011 and was carefully cleaned at no charge by Janet Davis Cleaners. The gown was returned to the project and prominently featured in December of 2011. A local bride came into the shop in March of 2012 and immediately fell in love with the gown. That bride was married in August of 2012. She looked absolutely amazing in the gown and kindly shared numerous pictures with The Brides Project. By mid fall the gown was lovingly returned to The Brides Project and immediately sent out to Janet Davis Cleaners who once again donated their amazing services and returned the gown back to us so that it may dance yet ANOTHER day! The gown is currently on hold with a deposit for a lovely bride who was thrilled beyond belief to find such an amazing gown at our shop that will make her day one to truly remember! Furthermore the bride and her family are extremely proud knowing that the proceeds will be going back to The Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor to help people whose lives have been touched by a diagnosis of Cancer.
Other Notable Items at The Brides Project:
Amsal Kenneth Polle Dress
Purchase Price: $4500 Bride’s Project Price: $1125
David’s Bridal Dress
Purchase Price: $350 Bride’s Project Price: $175
Maggie Potter Dress
Purchase Price: $800 Bride’s Project Price: $375
We are very lucky to have such a great business in our community. Brides-To-Be: this is a wonderful way to get ready for your big day, while supporting a great cause. Past-Brides: This is a great way to clear up some closet space and donate to a great cause.
For more information about The Brides Project, visit their website here, and their Facebook page here.