Weddings, Interviews

Meet the founder disrupting the wedding industry for the greater good – and she’s not going anywhere

I was tired of Pinterest-perfect inspiration and wanted to celebrate and selfless love.

At The Tempest, we’re constantly on the lookout to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming women entrepreneurs. When we stumbled upon Black Sheep Bride, we instantly knew that the founder, Danielle Calhoun, has what it takes to inspire us all.

Coming from humble beginnings, Danielle had learned early on that hard work and independence is essential to her success. In 2014, Black Sheep Bride stemmed from a need to challenge the status quo of traditionally overpriced, unsustainable weddings.

Danielle strongly believes that our special day can be an opportunity to give back to the local community and the environment.

Courtesy of Black Sheep Brides

The Tempest: We love your concept of changing the common perception of traditionally expensive weddings to sustainable ones. What inspired you to start Black Sheep Bride?

Danielle Calhoun: Black Sheep Bride came at a time in my life when I was stuck. I owned a successful wedding photography business, but also served and photographed in multiple humanitarian trips. I was tired of living in two separate worlds; looking at phony wedding pictures and couples stressed out about the wine pairings for their plated dinner menus, when there were people starving all over the world.

I wanted to celebrate the change-makers; the couples and vendors using their wedding budgets and businesses to serve others. I was tired of Pinterest-perfect inspiration and was ready for intentional, authentic, selfless love to be celebrated, regardless of the guest list, budget, or appearance. It has been an incredibly tough start-up journey and major labor of love, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When you first started BSB, how was it received by the local bridal community?

The wedding community was really hit-or-miss with the initial idea. The BSB concept was polarizing depending on the region of the US, to be honest. Being headquartered in Florida wasn’t helpful either because we are last to ‘get’ new trends and there are a lot of traditional southern-esque vendors and wedding couples.

On the flip side of that, when I traveled to more progressive regions like ATL, NY, and California, BSB was well known, respected and followed by many.

Courtesy of Black Sheep Brides

You work individually with each bride to create a sustainable wedding experience. What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had from this endeavor?

Great question. I actually don’t work with the wedding couples at all. We are an online wedding publication and resource center for them. They can find vendors in our BSB Vendor Directory and read helpful tips on planning a charitable wedding. We have met couples that used BSB throughout their wedding planning process and those experiences were the most rewarding to me.

That’s when I felt like I’d succeeded.

Has your concept of social responsibility and giving back stemmed from your childhood?

Sort of. I was raised in a low-income family, but thankfully I had both parents and a very supportive mother who tried to connect me with outside influences, like Girl Scouts. Our family was on both the receiving and giving ends of charity throughout my childhood, so that has increased my awareness. I started working when I was 14 and learned the value of hard work and independence early on. 

When I was 18, I went to South Africa for 3 months, for which I fundraised for the entire trip because my parents couldn’t support my wild dream. That experience widened my worldview and gave me a sense of identity and awareness that I could use if I had the work ethic and creativity to make it happen.

You work with causes like human trafficking, poverty, special needs, etc. Which one is closest to your heart?

Oh, that is a hard question for me. I find a lot of causes close to my heart.  If I had to narrow it down, it would be homelessness, gangs, and human trafficking.

I worked with a local homeless shelter in college and it opened my eyes to how complex it really is, especially for mothers and children. After that, I spent a few years as a youth leader at a small local church, in Tampa, that had heavy gang influence and I learned the ins and outs of gang politics very quickly.

 Human trafficking is what everyone talks about these days and I am grateful to see so much light being shed on exposing this dark, unseen, epidemic. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give women that’ll make them want to be a Black Sheep Bride?

Don’t get caught up in the wedding foo-foo etiquette stuff. You celebrate your love the best way you know how and if that means you skip adding fine china on the registry or having your dog as the ring bearer… YOU DO YOU.

Your wedding is nothing in comparison to what’s ahead, your marriage (aka, the real adventure).

It’s better to start your marriage off with intentionality and compassion than lofty expectations that things have to be ‘just like the magazines’.

So if you want to skip the gifts and register for a charity through SoKind Registry…DO IT. Want a lab created diamond from MiaDonna, instead of risking a conventional, non-ethical, mined diamond… PLEASE DO IT. Or … If you want to elope, cause you think a wedding is wasteful, WE GET THAT TOO. We are with you!

Do you think BSB could potentially change the future of weddings?

I believe that culture as a whole will change the future of weddings and if that means that BSB has influenced even an ounce of that change, I would be honored! I’ve already noticed a drastic difference in the wedding industry over the past three years since we launched, and it’s really encouraging.

The things I pointed out in 2014 are finally being noticed and addressed by the larger wedding masses and it feels good to know. But we are only just beginning.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. You can find out more about Black Sheep Bride on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on their website.