SANTA BARBARA - "Green" is a term and a trend many people are integrating into their lives, and green weddings are no exception.
For those planning to walk down the aisle, there are limited options to go green while wearing white, but one of the country's only eco-conscious wedding gown designers happens to be right here on the Central Coast.
Santa Barbara resident Jessica Iverson shows that weddings don't have to be all-white.
Showing her book of ball-gown sketches, Iverson says, "I have been sketching these beautiful gowns since I was 12."
Even with no formal training, childhood fantasies of gorgeous gowns have become reality for the couture designer.
Iverson elaborates, "I started 'Maternity Bride' five years ago, when I was getting married, and I was 6 and 1/2 months pregnant."
With no luck finding maternity-friendly options to wear down the aisle, the 26-year-old began creating wedding gowns for expecting women.
Then a friend opened her eyes by questioning her practices: "He started asking me, you know, 'Where do your fabrics come from?' And all of these things that I didn't even really know. So I had to do a lot of research, and it really got me thinking."
Now two years into the practice of designing with environmentally-friendly fabrics, Iverson has about a dozen designs and a deliberate method. She explains: "We found a cooperative of women in India that make peace silk. They go around, and they collect the cocoons from moths that have lived their whole lives out, and so it's a peaceful, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free fabric."
Iverson finds she's in high-demand and is proving that ethical and eco can be elegant.
Iverson points out her favorite eco-material: "Hemp silk: it's a combination of the peace silk with hemp. That's a very cool fabric, and it's really luxurious. It's not what you would think when you hear the word 'hemp'."
The eco-conscious fabrics are then sent to a manufacturer in Shanghai, and, as Iverson stresses: "It's done according to the fair labor arrangement." That arrangement includes working only 40-hours a week, two-weeks paid vacation, and more than minimum wage, among other benefits, which reflects Iverson's concern for the environment as well as for people.
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