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The Brides Project

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Monique Sluymers

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our customers are people who want the purchase of their wedding dress to reflect who they are. They are brides who care about making a difference in our community and our world through the purchase of their gown, and it does not hurt that they can do all this for a great price. Our first customers found us through social media. Many donations came in through Facebook posts talking up the project. Many also found us through a donated window display about the project (donated by our friends at the Selo/Shevel Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor). Word of mouth has played a big role in the projects early success. People love the idea and love talking about it.

Where did you find your first employee?
Our founder, Monique Sluymers, brought the project here based on The Brides Project in Canada. She was looking for an organization to partner with the brought it to the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. From their we put together a team of committed individuals and our first volunteers were people we knew and trusted. After that people recommended others until we had a terrific base of wonderful folks. Now that people have heard about the great work we're doing with The Brides Project, requests to volunteer come in several times a week.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
The Brides Project has come to life through the generosity of others, rather than an infusion of capital funds. The project is staffed and lead by volunteers and community business men and women have come forward to offer free services, expertise and support. Examples include: Our boutique space was donated for a year by Mark Hodesh of Downtown Home and Garden and Mark's Carts, materials and logo design was donated by Sparklefurry, the shop was designed by Organizational Designs and the work to prepare the shop was coordinated by First Martin Corporation.  Marketing expertise was provided by Re:group. The Blue House helped paint creative and unique hangers for our dresses.  The list of those who have helped is immense. Also, since this project is designed to raise money for a nonprofit organization, we received a capacity grant to support the first year efforts of The Brides Project through the James A & Faith Knight Foundation.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
Not a thing. This region is the perfect place for something like The Brides Project. That is why our founder was so eager to bring it from Canada and start it up here. People care about our community, and they want to make an impact on the world.

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
The Brides Project has flourished because of connections - people took the time to introduce us to the right people. Creating a forum to connect young entrepreneurial people together for support, sharing of resources and expertise could be tremendous.

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