Stateside: Gowns that keep giving

Nov 5, 2012

The wedding dresses sold by Barb Hiltz are involved in a perpetual cycle of giving.

This month, The Brides Project in Ann Arbor celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Barb Hiltz, executive director of the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor, spoke with Cyndy about earning a consistent stream of revenue for their non-profit with this creative project.

“The idea for the Brides Project came to an Ann Arbor from a woman named Monique Sluymers, who heard about a woman named Helen Sweet in Toronto who was doing a similar thing,” said Hiltz.

The gowns are donated from all over the country--75 percent of the dresses are previously worn and 25 percent come directly from designers and other shops.

Inside, the shop is bustling with vibrant gowns, many with price tags significantly lower than those in traditional retail stores.

“There are lots of gowns. More selection than most bridal boutiques have. The average gown sells for $350, which is much less than you’ll find in traditional shops,” said Hiltz.

Nearly 100 volunteers make the Project possible. Over the past year, they have enjoyed significant success.

“We hoped that in our first year open we could raise $25,000, but we raised almost $70,000.”

The Brides Project provides a unique way of giving aid to those struggling with cancer.

“People are moved by this and everyone leaves with pride," said Hiltz.

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