Behind the brand: The bridal brand committed to doing good
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Image courtesy of The PHA GroupWhat is Brides Do Good actually about? So, what is the main ethos behind the brand? “Around the world, over 12 million girls are married before the age of 18," Chantal says. "That number could reach 1.2 billion by 2050. These marriages can violate human rights, often forcing girls out of education and into a life of violence and abuse. Meanwhile, in the developed world, it’s common for us to invest a huge amount of time and money in weddings, even in the face of financial constraints. “Brides do Good believe in harnessing the power of the latter to change the former, because no girl should grow up in a world without opportunity and choice.” How does Brides Do Good actually work? Chantal explains: “By partnering with socially-conscious brides and brands, we curate a collection of pre-loved, new and sample designer wedding dresses. Up to two-thirds of the proceeds of each dress then fund projects that protect young girls: programmes that promote access to a safe education and protect against early marriage. By connecting brides-to-be with the needs of young girls, we’re offering a more ethical way to wed.” A charitable outlook... A big part of Brides Do Good is giving back - the brand partners with charities across the world, with the end goal of eradicating child marriage by 2030. Was this something that was always important to Chantal? “Absolutely," she says, "it’s a part of who I am. I was born in Kuwait to a Lebanese father and an Ethiopian-Italian mother, so from a young age, I was exposed to many cultures and the different social issues they face. I’ve travelled a lot, taken part in UNESCO projects and have carried out volunteer work in Africa and India, which has probably given me a global perspective naturally. I believe that we must not only celebrate different cultures but work to create positive changes within them too.”
Image courtesy of The PHA GroupSo how does she choose the charities that she works with? “Choosing the right charities to partner with is incredibly important to us. We focus is on developing long-term partnerships with charities whose values align with ours, funding sustainable projects that work within communities and enable them to independently meet their needs in future. "People who donate dresses are placing their trust in us, the same way a donor entrusts a charity with their money; it’s our responsibility to make sure it’s used wisely. We are currently working with Plan International UK on projects that support communities in a number of locations, including Ethiopia, Egypt and Yemen.”
Former Made in Chelsea star Louise Thompson // Image courtesy of The PHA Group
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Chantal Khoueiry // Image courtesy of The PHA GroupA lifelong love for fashion... So, how did Chantal get into fashion - and particularly bridal fashion? Is it something she’s always had an interest in? “Fashion has always been a love of mine, but I never imagined that I’d end up setting up a social enterprise in bridal fashion!" she says. "I’ve worked in the retail fashion industry for many years, first at Polo Ralph Lauren and then at the Bicester Village Shopping Collection as Chief Culture Officer. I’ve seen how much power the industry can have, and after realising how many lives it could change, linking the two up was a no-brainer.” A huge part of Brides Do Good is sustainability, which is something we’re incredibly passionate about at The National Student. Is sustainability something Chantal has always had an interest in, or is there a particular turning point in her life that she can pinpoint? “My personal turning point was eight years ago when I realised just how non-sustainable the wedding industry was. I realised that thousands of pounds are spent on a dress that is worn only once; a dress that will eventually add to the £140 million worth of clothing that goes into landfill each year. “There is a growing focus on involving sustainable and ethical practices in weddings themselves, extending not just to suppliers but to clothing and gowns as well. Pre-loved wedding gowns are a great example of the shift: in 2018 over 20% of brides in the UK sold their wedding dress online. With that many brides shopping for a pre-loved dress, there are likely to be even more sold online in future, and so on! Being part of an ethical industry like this, and helping to cut down on environmentally-damaging practices, is such a pleasure.”
A happy Brides Do Good customer wearing Pronovias // Image courtesy of The PHA GroupFinal words of wisdom... Finally - what advice does she have for students wanting to get involved with the sustainable fashion industry? “Be passionate and stay passionate. That’s what will give you drive and determination to overcome every obstacle. It is what will push you to think outside of the box, and ultimately what will make things happen!” For more information visit the Brides Do Good website or follow them on Instagram. To see more from our Behind The Brand series, click here. Lead image courtesy of The PHA Group