Vendor Feature: Celia + Grace

August 27 • 2015

Celia-Grace Celia-Grace

 

Love Ridge Photography

L&L: Where did the name Celia Grace come from?

Celia is part of my name (Marcelia) and a family name going back 5 generations which I love for our vintage-inspired designs. The word Grace has lots of meanings, two of which are beauty and goodness, two things at the heart of what we do at Celia Grace – make exquisite wedding dresses that are eco and give back and empower women around the world.

 

L&L: What does fair-trade mean in the context of Celia Grace?

Fair Trade is a global movement to end poverty by giving you, as a consumer, the ability to vote with your dollars for the kind of world you want–one where people are paid a living wage, work in safe and fair conditions, and can break the cycle of poverty. Celia Grace is proud to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Celia Grace supports its seamstresses with empowering and safe working conditions, a living wage, and transparent relationships. Celia Grace dresses are handmade in Cambodia and India by women and men in small Fair Trade sewing groups that create opportunities for historically marginalized producers and that prohibit child and forced labor.

See more about problems in the fashion industry and what a Fair Trade wedding dress is here: http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/06/fair-trade-wedding-dresses/#comments

 

L&L: It sounds like the majority of your background is in business development & human rights. How did this personal interest influence you?

That’s right, my background is in international development and business while designer Alix Kivlin is the creative force behind the brand. When I was in college I spent a summer researching women and factory work in Mexico. I went in thinking that all clothing work was bad, especially for women. But after interviewing more than 300 women I was learning that work can either help or harm women, depending on the conditions.  So when I was getting married I knew I wanted a dress made in a way that would help people rather than potentially harm them.

 

L&L: Can you tell us a little bit more about how your own wedding was a catalyst to join your passion for business development and human rights into fashion and weddings? 

My partner and I were planning a big wedding and knew that we wanted it to reflect who we were and what we cared about, especially at such a meaningful, symbolic event, and on where we were spending a lot of money. I didn’t want to worry about who made my dress and under what conditions and was surprised to discover that there were very few options for ethically-made dresses. There were no Fair Trade wedding dresses.

 

L&L: How did you meet Alix your head designer? 

Alix and I are family friends. We didn’t know each other that well but hit it off over Thanksgiving one year talking about clothing making, Fair Trade, environmentalism, and our mutual love of travel and connecting with women around the world.

 

L&L: Your business focuses on sourcing fair-trade products from developing countries. What made you turn to using producers in the developing world rather than manufacturing the dresses in the continental US?

My background is in international development and I love empowering women in developing countries and then seeing what they can do! There are a growing number of wedding dresses made in the USA and I am so happy about that.  However,with ninety-eight percent of clothing worn in the US made elsewhere, improving work conditions abroad is key. I see the wedding dress as an ethical fashion “gateway” garment. The wedding is a dress and it is a symbol so I think it is an opportunity to introduce people to the idea of giving back through their purchases.

 

L&L: Do you have any other resources you’d suggest for couples?

I recently wrote an E-book “More Beauty, More Joy” full of resources making it EASY to have a giveback wedding.  Find the E-book (free!) at http://www.celia-grace.com/ethical-wedding-made-easy

 

We are so excited that our dresses are sold in bridal shops around the US! Find our stockists and trunk show schedule here (http://www.celia-grace.com/try-on-a-dress/). No shop in your area? We can mail you a sample dress to try on.

 

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