SHE Spotlight: Danielle Calhoun of The Black Sheep Bride

#SHEspotlight 

Changing the world, one wedding at a time???

When my husband and I were planning our wedding in 2012, we wanted our ceremony to clearly be a testimony of our faith journey, and we wanted our friends and family to have the BEST time at our reception. The idea of considering sustainable or ethical vendors was nowhere to be found on our radar at that point in our lives. I simply didn’t have the knowledge that would have prompted me to care about it back then, and to be honest, the thought of a wedding with a “purpose” just equated to more dollar signs in my mind.

Fast forward to this past October when I was traveling to Orlando for a conference. I made a stop in Tampa to see family along the way. The @SHEchangeseverything Instagram account had launched just a couple of days earlier with big dreams (and shaky knees) to empower women as we begin to shift toward a more sustainable, healthy, and ethical lifestyle. Part of that dream means that we want to do our best connect all of YOU to products and companies who share our mission.

The founder of The Black Sheep Bride and I “met” through Instagram and when I realized that she was based in Tampa, of course we had to connect while I was in town. We met at the cutest little coffee shop in Ybor City and talked for hours.

What I realized through our conversation was that choosing sustainable, healthy, or ethical vendors can be as easy as going to her website to get connected, that pricing can actually be CHEAPER than through "traditional" avenues, and honestly, when we think about how much money we spend on weddings in America these days, why not take a little extra care to choose wisely.

As I flipped back through our wedding photos, I realized that our vintage travel theme actually did lend itself to ethical options for decor. 

Our reception was held at Falcon Field Airport in their Dixie Wing WWII Hangar Museum. Will got his private pilot license there and worked there during college breaks, so it was full of lots of memories for us. These planes were set all around the inside of the hangar and along the tarmac, and made for great photo ops.  Photo: Chris Isham Photography  

Our reception was held at Falcon Field Airport in their Dixie Wing WWII Hangar Museum. Will got his private pilot license there and worked there during college breaks, so it was full of lots of memories for us. These planes were set all around the inside of the hangar and along the tarmac, and made for great photo ops.  Photo: Chris Isham Photography

 

Our florist found these vintage Pan Am wings on ebay. We used them as our escort cards, but of course our guests pinned them on and wore them all night - Voila! Unintentional name tags! Photo: Chris Isham Photography

Our florist found these vintage Pan Am wings on ebay. We used them as our escort cards, but of course our guests pinned them on and wore them all night - Voila! Unintentional name tags! Photo: Chris Isham Photography

Table numbers were made from vintage postcards, centerpieces were a combination of vintage globes and stacked vintage travel books. Flowers were arranged in family mint Julep cups. Photo: Chris Isham Photography

Table numbers were made from vintage postcards, centerpieces were a combination of vintage globes and stacked vintage travel books. Flowers were arranged in family mint Julep cups. Photo: Chris Isham Photography

 Our cake stand was Will's great grandfather's trunk from WWII, and we cut the cake with an Air Force saber. Photo: Chris Isham Photography

 Our cake stand was Will's great grandfather's trunk from WWII, and we cut the cake with an Air Force saber. Photo: Chris Isham Photography

In true SHE Changes Everything style, Danielle taught me that even the smallest shifts in our wedding planning choices can make a tremendous impact. It turns out that we made some ethical choices without realizing it by decorating with vintage items instead of buying new. Our wedding was actually featured in a couple of magazines, I think because of the uniqueness of it, but oh, how I wish I'd known what I know now before it got any attention. Now, I would jump at that opportunity to advocate for ethical wedding options, knowing that small changes can create huge impact if we all do a little. It adds up! When we renew our vows someday, I'll definitely start our planning at www.blacksheepbride.com.

Flipping through Daniell's website is incredibly inspiring. You'll find a collection of vendors, from photographers to graphic artists to jewelers, who either source ethically made items or give back to a cause through their companies. How refreshing it is to see professionals in the wedding industry linking arms with the common passion to see money we all spend on weddings used for good around us, well beyond our wedding day. You can also find real weddings featured so you can get ideas for your own. We are big fans of ethical clothing brand Mata Traders and loved this glimpse into their founder's big day: https://www.blacksheepbride.com/weddings-that-give-back-maureen-burke-mata-traders/

Here’s our SHE Spotlight with Danielle Calhoun, founder of www.blacksheepbride.com. Be inspired

What did you do before BSB?
Before Black Sheep Bride, I was a wedding and humanitarian photographer. Prior to taking on my photography business full time, 6 years ago, I was a national corporate trainer and then sales supervisor for Coca-Cola Refreshments. 

Was there a "switch" you remember being flipped that led you to change careers?
There was most definitely a handful of variables that led to such a switch, yes. Since I was a child my heart has beat to the drum of serving people overseas, specifically Africa (pre-popular volunteer destination times at that). I grew up in a relatively low-income home, so anything I wanted to do I had to work very, very hard to do it. I got a job when I was 14 (by my choosing) and worked ever since then, but when I got out of high school I had the opportunity to go to South Africa for 3 months and teach/serve in the townships/squatter camps. I had to raise a lot of $ on my own in order to go on that trip. It quickly taught me the power of giving and having faith. That trip opened my eyes to the third world and changed me for life. I came home, got married, continued in college, started a career and then had children. In between South Africa and Kids, I traveled to Jamaica to serve 4 times and Costa Rica. Once having children though, my heart yearned to return to Africa. I was in photography at the time and one of the key-note speakers at all the conferences, Travis Gugleman started a non-profit for orphans, called Dando Amor. They worked in Ecuador (now owning an orphanage there for un-wanted boys) and they were going to see how they could help some orphanages in this little country called Burkina Faso, in West Africa. I joined the team and met everyone for the first time on African soil. Burkina was different from South Africa. Burkina was truly, truly a poor country with little western influence. Now having a 'mother's heart' I was wrecked by the severe conditions of the children/orphanages we visited. I came home and the next day we went to the grocery store and I started balling my eyes out with my children in the cart... I couldn't get over the waste, the excessive amounts of everything we live around on a daily basis and I walked out of the store hyperventilating. 

The following weekend we had a wedding to photograph and it rained that day, so the couple had to move it inside. She was irate that her special day was ruined by the rain, when a week prior I was in a place that hadn't rained in months and desperately needed to celebrate such a gift. At the end of the night, I went to outside to wipe my eyes, cause I was crying off and on the entire day (due to the excess and lack of awareness that was all around me) and realized there had to be something more I could do with my influence. Weddings are celebrated across the world as one of the most lavish events of a lifetime, and pride themselves on how much waste we can collect in one event... waste of money, food and flowers that just get thrown in the trash at the end of the night. What if we used these events to give back to others instead, through conscious vendor curation, social enterprise products and recycling/composting/reusing things that don't need to be thrown out... and so Black Sheep Bride was born. 

What's your favorite guilty pleasure when the going gets tough?
Guilty Pleasure: Hands down, driving in my car (sans kids) with the music blaring singing at the top of my lungs and dancing like a maniac in the driver's seat. I have a true gift of dance, as you can see in this old branding video we used when we had our photo. It's like God gifted me with these skills so I can gift others... with laughter.. hahah! https://vimeo.com/56572257business

What has been the most rewarding part of this week for you?
There is so much going on with Black Sheep Bride. Rewards/challenges always come a dime a dozen, but having the chance to love on my children won't always be there waiting for me. We didn't have a lot of $ for my son's birthday this year, so he got a small Lego set and a Nerf gun and stuffed puppy dog. I was so worried he would be upset he didn't many THINGS that I forgot it's not about that. He open his gifts with glee and delight and when he saw that stuffed animal you would have thought we gave him a billion dollars. In that moment, it felt like I had accomplished something as a mother, that I helped nurture a heart of true gratefulness... and that was such a confirming and encouraging experience for sure. 

What are you excited about in this season with BSB?
Black Sheep Bride is going through a pretty significant expansions stage right now and it comes with ALL THE FEELINGS! I am mostly excited, but it is also scary- ha! With the onset of sponsoring over 50 events across the nation in the next 12 months, we have a lot of work ahead of us! 

How can our readers best link arms and cheer you on?
The biggest way to cheer BSB on is taking our content and applying it to your wedding planning process. You can find these resources over on our site! You can also FOLLOW along on our journey over on Instagram. And if you know of any socially conscious couples, vendors, or social enterprises that might like to join our community send them our way! I appreciate you all more than you know!

Thank you so much for the love, kindness and instant friendship you provided to me Lindsey and the SHE Team! 


Know of a brand or organization we should spotlight? Let us know at
info@SHEchangeseverything.com.  Look for more SHE Spotlights like this each week!

Dream and do,

Lindsey Raymond, PT, DPT, 
Co-Founder, She Changes Everything