Brand Spotlight: The East African Petal Company

 

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It is so much fun to have an army of wedding vendors around the United States attending conferences, speaking at expos and connecting with other socially conscious brands… Its even more fun when I receive messages like… ‘This company is totally up your alley and should be a BSB Vendor’… The East African Petal Company is one of those business that stuck out to one of our BSB Vendors, Courtney Hammons of A Magical Affair, when she attended CaterSource 2015 in Vegas and she even spoke about Partying with Purpose! The East Africa Petal Company specializes in Natural Flower Confetti harvested from one of the largest bougainvillea farms in the world, on the border of a national park in Kenya. We reached out to the owner Stella and she was thrilled we wanted to feature her business! Here is a little bit about what they do.

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1. What brought you to start The East African Petal Company?

I moved to Kenya from England over six years ago. I resigned from a good job in London with a top advertising agency in search of a more fulfilling adventure. I had never been to Kenya before and I knew no-one but I did know that I wanted to work in wildlife conservation and nothing would dissuade me from this path. For the following five years I worked in some beautiful and remote locations in Kenya with some amazing people, learning all I could about the struggle to protect endangered species and habitats, before I began working with world’s leading authority in hand raising and rehabilitating orphaned baby elephants. How does this lead to growing and selling real flower confetti? Well my work with this organisation brought me to Tsavo, Kenya’s largest National Park, where the orphaned elephants finally get released into the wild to have a second chance at a natural life.

It is in Tsavo where I finally felt I truly belonged. Whilst still working with the elephants I negotiated with my boss to be placed permanently in Tsavo and I rented a tumbledown old cottage from a new friend, and soon to be business partner, on a stunning old farm on the border of the National Park. When totally immersed in an environment it is only then that you see where real differences can be made. The poaching catastrophe facing Africa’s elephants and wildlife as a whole is a complex issue, which is in part interconnected with the high poverty levels in the country. Those doing the poaching on the ground in Kenya are desperate, poor and uneducated people striving to survive in a world which offers them little support.

In all truth I knew nothing about growing bougainvillea or even about farming, but my friend and partner knew the idea could be a success with a little spirit and determination. So in 2014 we established The East African Petal Company with a mission to offer sustainable, equal, secure and dignified employment as the top grower and supplier of natural biodegradable real flower confetti.

We have been operating for one year, supplying our petals on a wholesale basis to distributers and retailers, yet our petals are already floating their way into hundreds of weddings. Our petals can be purchased online from select distributers in the UK whilst we are working to make them available directly to the consumer in the US and further afield.

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2. What are your biggest challenges running a socially conscious wedding business?

We operate our farm 100% naturally, which is a challenge in itself. We don’t use chemicals or fertilisers. We don’t have mains electricity or network coverage. We work in a remote environment where everything takes time and patience. When entering a fast-paced business world it is a challenge to remain true to our roots when there are more convenient and efficient methods which could be used, but which also have a negative impact on the environment. We do everything ‘by hand’, our product could not exist without the dedication of our staff and the intensive labour-heavy production process, which makes our product that extra bit special whilst giving back to those that need it most.

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3. What have been your biggest achievement in running your business?

The feedback we have received about our real flower confetti from florists, wedding planners, brides and venues alike has been 100% positive. Our petals have been described as ‘the best quality petals ever produced’, which is an amazing achievement in itself.

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4. How has your business impacted the lives of your workers?

We employ happy workers. It gives me great pleasure to hear our team sing and laugh when they are working – even out in the hot African sun in our petal fields. Our employment teaches them they are valued whilst giving them hope and opportunities. With employment these impoverished communities have the power of freedom. They have the power to put their children through school, to earn themselves an education, to learn how to read and write. They have the power to buy a plot of land and plant their own crops. They have a choice and that is an impact.

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5. Where do you see it going in the future?

We want to see our real flower confetti packaged and stocked in high-street stores, to be easily purchased online and to be available world-wide direct to the consumer. We want to see it filling the cold night sky in Times Square on New Year’s Eve! Through such expansion we can employ more people and not have to turn away all those who walk to our farm from miles away in search of work. With more support we can achieve our goals to set-up community initiatives, support local schools and invest in wildlife protection projects. The future of our company can make the difference to the futures of so many lives.

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6. Who are your biggest supporters state side?

Only this year, 2015, have we introduced our petals to the US market. The response has been brilliant and we hope that over time with further support our real flower confetti will be readily available to purchase online and in-store. What we need from our US friends is for you to ‘like’ us on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Instagram (@EastAfricanPetals) and ask your florists, wedding planners and venues to stock our petals!

For more ways to learn about The East African Petal Company please visit their website and reach out with any questions, they but an email away and an ocean a part. :)

Vendor Spotlight: Give Cookies

As we approach Black Sheep Bride‘s first birthday, this July, we are completely in awe of the overall support and amazing vendors we have connected with in the past few months.. One of those vendors is Give Cookies, based out of California… Here is a little bit about their business and how they are using cookies to change the world!

‘We’re humanitarians at heart, but bakers in spirit. That’s why Give is a for purpose gourmet cookie company that gives back every step of the way. At Give, a percentage of every baked purchase contributes to a select charity of your choice. This allows us to transform lives both inside and outside of the kitchen. To make a difference, one cookie at a time.

The majority of the ingredients that go into our cookies are sourced from fair trade certified companies. A fair trade company created the packaging, meaning a box of our cookies also helps employ artisans in India.  On top of that, we Give 15% of our profits to one of the following charities of your choice: Charity Water, The Lunchbox Fund and Pencils of Promise.’

Photos courtesy of another amazing Black Sheep Bride vendor: Smith House Photo

(Side Note: They are currently on a baby break from baking… who knew… when you love baking as much as Saira… sometimes you end up with a bun in the over… hehhe< I went there)

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

 

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

View More: http://smithhousephoto.pass.us/cookies-that-give

 

Also take a peek at their super nifty and ‘cooking show worthy’  ‘About’ video too:

Paper Flowers with Big Purpose- Appetite Paper

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As most of you know Black Sheep Bride is in the early ‘blooming’ (<<see what I did there) stages of building this start up from the ground up! It has been an amazingly fast and rewarding journey and it wouldn’t have been such an early success had it not been for our amazing team of selfless, passionate supporters! One of those early supporters/vendors is Rachael, of Appetite Paper! She has been such a needed encourager, uplifter, mover, connecter, and now blog content contributor.

Rachael is in the business of paper! Not just any paper either…. Beautiful paper with purpose… Appetite Paper is a paper flower and custom invitation/design company that helps others, one glorious alternative bloom and invitation at a time.

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Appetite Paper was created to transform Rachael’s passion of invitation design into a meaningful life in service to others. Appetite Paper looks to lift up and invest in each of their clients, while providing a community that embraces intentional living and service through their online blog and social media.

“Most importantly, in place of building upon an already comfortable and cozy life here at Appetite Paper, we are challenged to humbly give back to our neighbors in need through our donated time, resources and intentional financial giving. Currently, Appetite Paper is thankful to be a serving partner of The Daughter Project. An amazing nonprofit selflessly providing a supportive and safe home for young women directly affected by human tracking in Northwest, Ohio.”

Read the entire ‘Giving Back/The Daughter Project’ post on Appetite Paper‘s blog here.

Design your custom paper flower bridal bouquet in their online-shop today!

Also be on the look out for some of Rachael’s upcoming blog posts on Black Sheep Bride in the next few weeks.

 

#GiveBack Wedding Giveaway | Celia Grace, 31 Bits and Sseko Designs

Our amazing vendor and friends at Celia Grace are participating in an amazing Fair Trade Wedding Giving! Who wouldn’t want to adorn one of these amazing gowns (and accessories) and help spread the message of sustainable style on their wedding day?

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WIN YOUR DREAM FAIR TRADE WEDDING!

Share the joy on your special day! With this prize, each piece of your bridal ensemble will help to empower women around the world. But more importantly, these exquisitely handcrafted items will empower YOU to feel positively radiant on your special day! The winner will receive:

  • Heirloom silk wedding gown from Celia Grace
  • Sandals for the bride & bridal party from Sseko Designs
  • A bracelet & necklace for the bride and necklaces for each bridesmaid from 31 Bits

     ($3,000 value)

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Enter to win and get all of the amazing contest details, by selecting the image above or heading over to the official contest page on Sseko Design’s website.

Photo Credit : Loveridge Photography

 

Fight Human Trafficking One Wedding Purchase at a Time

Last week I (Danielle) spent 6 days in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic with Score International. We served in several sugar cane villages, orphanages, a special needs school, nursing home and a safe house for sex trafficking/domestic violence victims.

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Being completely transparent, I almost didn’t go on this trip…. Black Sheep Bride has hijacked my schedule the past 6 months and free time (in between traveling, promoting and other functions) is a very rare and treasured thing for my family right now. My head was saying… Dominican Republic… that’s such a small potatoes in comparison to my annual West Africa Trips… BOY WAS I WRONG and my heart took over and was quickly humbled upon arrival.

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(The girl on the blue tire above is an orphan, by the name of Franchesca, she was so full life and proceeded to steal my camera and snag this silly shot of me, above, after I took her photo)

Black Sheep Bride is all about connected newly engaged couples with vendors and products that give back and support causes. Its our job to serve as a platform to advocate for a myriad of global topics, so naturally we know a lot about social needs, projects and organizations… With that said, its not uncommon for us talk about people and products that support human trafficking, but in all my travels, I’ve never witnessed underage children being taken by their buyers to be used for sexual intentions….  I was instantly heart broken and feeling helpless.

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We were surprised to hear that Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic is one of the largest hubs for Sex Tourism between America and Europe… Its much cheaper and less risky to fly to the Caribbean, than Thailand or India, so buyers, with their pockets full of cash, flock to the island in search of underage children to have their way with. Their are even billboards across Europe that advertise sex tourism in the Carribean, similar to the one below.

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But – But – But… In the middle of all the disgust and sadness and helpless … there is hope! We were able to visit a Safe House for these women called Lily House. They take in sex trade runaways, house them, keep them safe, love on their children (most conceived via rape/clients), and teach them a trade (Beauty – hair/nails/massage, Sewing- handbags, rugs, clothes, Hospitality- coffee shop and baked goods, and Jewelry Making) … the best part about their outreach is these women gain the confidence and love they need to be able to see their stories have huge power and when they are ready… they get the opportunity to walk the streets again, this time to show their once sex-trade peers, there is hope and love and a future in walking away/breaking free.

So now what…. Go to their Etsy Shop, support them by purchasing their products, connect them with organizations you are connected with, donate to their efforts and send them your love, prayers and positive vibes to keep this organization going strong!

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