We caught up with Christine Carlson of Maybelle NYC–a wedding dress boutique that specializes in upcycling vintage pieces and creating sustainable designs.
What is the inspiration behind Maybelle and what’s your approach to operating a sustainable business?
My teenage daughter, with her passion for climate and social justice, caused me to look around at what was happening in the wedding industry, where I spent my entire career as a fashion designer. I wanted to continue creating beautiful pieces but not hurt the environment. Every Maybelle dress is upcycled; I transform an existing dress into a new design using sustainable fabrics. Using expert local craftspeople, drapers, pattern makers, and sewists allows us to oversee the whole process, ensure they are paid fairly and help sustain the heritage dressmaking industry.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced in running your business?
The biggest challenge as a solopreneur is wearing so many hats! Along with sourcing vintage pieces, deadstock fabric, and designing the collection, I also do my social media, sales, and bookkeeping. I am always behind on something!
What changes would you like to see in the wedding industry, and is there anyone in your line of work who you think is leading the way?
There needs to be more awareness of the pollution a wedding can generate and education about sustainable alternatives. I would like to see some of the more significant wedding platforms, the Knot, for example, take a keener interest in this.
I am a fan of Kate at Halfpenny London, a British-based bridal house. She has a unique vision, and her bridal gowns are made-to-order.
Can you share a picture of your work that has special meaning for you and tell us a little about it?
The Estelle gown, named for my youngest daughter, was an actual labor of love and, I think, the most elegant dress in the collection. When I initially discovered her, she was a lemon color and in poor condition. I felt that with a bit of rehab, I could, brighten her up. After disassembling, I draped a pearlized silk taffeta (deadstock from Vera Wang) bodice to lengthen the silhouette. After zhushing the neckline and re-constructing the sleeves, I selected lighter colors for her underlayers to highlight the intricate lace pattern scattered with dimensional lace flowers.
If you could share one piece of advice with couples planning their wedding, what would it be?
Choose your vendors carefully– research and determine if their values align with yours. Think hard about what mood you want to evoke; years from now, your guests will not remember all the details, but they will remember how they felt!
Learn more about Maybelle on their website.