Happy Friday! Today we’re launching our new #FollowFriday series. HOORAY! Every week we’ll be interviewing socially conscious wedding vendors about their businesses and the causes that they’re passionate about, and asking them for wedding day tips and tricks!
We’re kicking the series off with none other than Danielle Calhoun.
Danielle Calhoun, wedding photographer turned humanitarian entrepreneur, speaker and, socially conscious wedding blogger, founded Black Sheep Bride in 2014. After traveling to several developing countries to photograph nonprofits, orphanages, and social impact projects, Danielle came back home feeling conflicted about the opulent industry that supported her then-business. Rather than accepting the status quo, she decided to start an online community for generous people who are turning their back on the wedding industry’s $72 billion profit monopoly.
Black Sheep Bride is a network that connects engaged couples and wedding vendors that value giving back. Charitable wedding businesses owners apply to join Black Sheep Bride’s vendor network, which is then tapped into by big-hearted couples that want to use their big day to support causes they care about.
We had the pleasure to talk to Danielle about Black Sheep Bride, and here’s what she had to say…
Where does the name come from? Is there a cool story behind it?
I came home from my first trip to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, and I was talking to another wedding photographer about my idea to start a blog devoted to wedding stories, vendors, and products that give back. She was truly concerned that my concept wasn’t going to be well-received. At the end of my informal pitch, she said, “I just don’t think that the wedding industry is going to understand what you are trying to get them to follow.” And my response was, “Then I guess I will have to be the Black Sheep!” It stuck ever since! We want people to break the rules, stand out and challenge the status quo by giving back and being more intentional with their wedding planning process!
That’s awesome! Now, on your website you mention having come up with the idea for BSB after your trip to West Africa. Can you tell me a bit more about the trip and how it inspired you?
I went to Burkina Faso with an organization called Dando Amor. Prior to the trip I was helping them collect shoes, for their national shoe drive, on a local level and it really impacted me in a big way to watch my community give back with such kindness. While I was on that trip we went to multiple orphanages to provide them with food and school supplies, and one day we went to the border of Mali to feed refugees in the bush areas. While we were driving I had this idea to take a bride in all her wedding splendor and surround her by the equivalent amount of orphans her the amount of money her dress costs could feed. It was a powerful thought to me, so much so that I went back a year later and had the intention of creating this image in my head with a past wedding client (she brought her wedding dress and all), but her luggage got lost and didn’t arrive until the day she left! So needless to say, that didn’t happen, but Black Sheep Bride was most definitely conceptualized on that first trip over.
Well, you didn’t get that powerful picture, but you started a change-making blog! How many vendors and brides use BSB? How much has the marketplace grown since you started? Anything else you want to boast about? Go ahead!
We have roughly 160 vendors across the nation in the BSB Vendor Community presently, and we’ve reached over 50,000 couples directly with our brand engagement at the various events we have cross-promoted over the past 18 months. In the last 18 months we have grown in exponential ways: we went from only 40 vendors in 2014 to 140 in 2015! We’ve also expanded our Publication Partnership strategies and have aligned with 12 regional and national wedding shows and events, which has helped engage our brand across the nation in HUGE WAYS, like we never could have done with Facebook ads or standard web advertising. This month, we will have reach 10k followers on Instagram. We have been working super hard to reach that milestone, and we’re so happy it’s finally here!
Congratulations! I have one final question for you, Danielle. Do you have any tips for couples trying to share their special days with others in need?
There are so many different ways I can respond to this one, but to keep it simple:
1. Be Genuine in your efforts and seek causes that align with your personal passions. When your wedding guests see that you are giving back to something you’ve always have, it will be natural and expected of them to support you and join along in your efforts.
2. Incorporate products that might align with your cause-theme like, for example, jewelry made by artisans in South America or bow ties promoting men’s health.
3. You do you! I cannot stress this enough: your wedding day can be as big or as little as you want it to be. Don’t let the status quo tell you what to do on your wedding day! If you want to use your cash bar as a way to raise money for inner-city youth programs, DO IT! They are all going to drink either way!
You can join the Black Sheep herd by signing up as either a vendor or a bride (or groom) here! If you’re engaged and looking for other ways to give back on your wedding day, you can also create a charitable wedding registry here.