The North Star Monthly, Monday, June 6, 2011, By Donna M. Garfield
‘Be Enchanting, be stunning, be radiant, be you.’
“Every wedding is a royal wedding…” stated the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, Church of England, when he spoke at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011.
What powerful imagery this provides to brides and grooms everywhere, and what young girl hasn’t dreamed of her wedding and the beautiful dress she will wear on that special day?
Tara Lynn Scheidet knows how to put “special” into designing wedding gowns. She is an eco-fashion designer living in Sutton, and her belief is that the bride should feel as if she is part of creating the dress.
Born and raised on Long Island, Tara Lynn is an only child who liked making doll- house furniture and clothes for her Barbie dolls. She says, “I spent a lot of time by myself and was always creating things with fabric.” She knew she wanted to be a fashion designer by the time she was in junior high. “I started mak- ing my own patterns when I was in junior high and high school. The first jacket I ever made for myself was made out of my mom’s bell bottoms.
They were the really wide bell bottoms and were cream and brown plaid. I turned them into a mini skirt and took the bottom half and made them into a jacket. The jacket had a sleeve cap. I thought a sleeve was just a rectangular shape but sleeves have a curve. The jacket looked really cute but you couldn’t move your arms. I wore all my outfits to school and I used to get made fun of a lot. They were different. I did not fit the norm.”
Tara Lynn’s parents did not think being a fashion designer was a realistic career at first. But then they started talk- ing to family members and friends about careers in fash- ion design, and they realized there were many jobs avail- able in the fashion industry. Tara Lynn laughs and says, “My parents wanted me to be a lawyer. They said I was good at arguing, but I couldn’t imagine myself being in law school and all the textbooks I would have to read. I needed to be doing something with my hands.”
She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and worked during the summers. After one summer job, she decided she was going to start her own business. “I went home early that day and my mother asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ and I said, ‘I quit my job today. I’m going to start my own business and I’m going to start doing alterations.’ My dad helped me distribute flyers around the neigh-borhood. Word spread and I got tons of alterations.
I would pick up garments and alter entire wardrobes for different customers. I would take my pincushion and sewing basket and do a fitting of 10 pieces, take them home, finish them, and deliver them.”
Tara Lynn first came to Vermont in the 7th grade and decided someday she wanted to come back and live here. Upon graduation from college in 2001, she and her husband, Evan, moved to Sutton where they had bought property the year before. They lived in a 16’ x 16’ log cabin with no water and electricity until they built their house last year.
They married in 2001 over Memorial Day weekend. What does a fashion designer wear for her wedding gown? Tara Lynn smiles and says, “I wore a sari that I bought. It was a piece of fabric I bought when I spent a semester in college in England. I didn’t bring any bedding and I needed a sheet for the bed. I bought this sari for a sheet and that’s what I got married in. I had a beautiful loose Indian blouse that I wore, too. We came up here, just the two of us, and eloped on a little island in the river with a Justice of the Peace.” They had a more formal wedding on August 9, 2003, in their own back yard. For that occasion, Tara Lynn made her own wedding dress. It was green, had a low open back, a handkerchief hem, and she hand-embroidered butterflies all over the top of it.
Tara Lynn makes custom hemp and eco-friendly wedding gowns. Hemp is the fiber of a Cannabis plant. The fibers are strong and can be used to make many different products. At one time, they were used in making canvas for sails, ropes, and even paper. “It makes really soft beautiful fabrics and I use a lot of hemp in silk blends, cotton blends, and wool blends,” Tara Lynn says. It is illegal to grow hemp in the United States because it is related to the marijuana plant. Hemp is grown in China (the world’s leading producer) as well as in other places includ- ing Canada, France, Chile, and Germany. Tara Lynn adds that “Most of my suppliers are in California, and the hemp is manufactured in China and Romania, but a lot of the fabrics I use come from China. I started buying organic silks from companies in Europe this year. I deal directly with companies where I can handle their minimum orders for yards of fabric.”
Perhaps her most famous wedding dress to date has been the one she made for Crystal Bowersox, who was married on October 10, 2010, in Chicago. Crystal is well known for winning second place on American Idol in
2010. “I didn’t know who she was because I don’t have a TV and haven’t had one for 10 years. She found me online and called me. I made her wedding dress in three weeks. My usual time requirements are three to six months to make a wedding gown.”
When Tara Lynn begins working with a bride, she starts with an interview. “I e-mail a personal interview and measurement sheet, which on the new website you will be able to download. You will have your own personal page where we can commu- nicate and share information. It will be like a client portal.” Information will be exchanged such as the location, date, and details of the wedding. She will ask for photos and they will discuss styles, colors, wedding theme, and budget.
“Every bride that I have made a gown for has gotten married outside,” she says. “One got married in mocca- sins. One getting married this summer will be in her hiking boots. Some are barefoot. The majority of them are looking for a natural fiber gown. Some are specifically looking for a hemp wedding dress. None of them is the average bride. They are looking for some- thing different. Their mother and sister are dragging them to the bridal store because traditionally that is what you are supposed to do, and they get there, and say, ‘This is not me.’ They find my website and discover there is an alterna- tive. It is still beautiful and can be traditional but something about what I create is more personal. It touches them.”
Once Tara Lynn receives all of the information, she will send six or seven sketches to the bride. She wants the bride to feel comfortable expressing her thoughts and feelings. Tara Lynn says, “I take what you like and put it together. This is you. This is who you are.” She has created wedding dresses with paw prints, eagles, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and flowers. Tara Lynn does embroidery and appliqués, macramé, knitting, crocheting, trapunto (padding inside that gives it a raised effect), fabric paint, and block printing. She also makes veils and decorates handbags and shoes.
The groom sometimes comes to the sittings, and she has also made shirts and pants for the groom. She is getting more requests from customers ask- ing for clothes for the groom.
Cost depends on the style and material. It is very labor intensive due to the artwork and embellishments. She does work with brides on a budget. They can buy an existing pat- tern or choose one of three existing styles and mix and match tops and bottoms and then add embellishments.
Tara Lynn has customers from all over the U.S. and Canada. She has sent some of her products as far as Califor- nia and has traveled to a trade show in Chicago. She has also participated in the Burkelyn Arts Craft Fair.
Tara Lynn’s new studio was designed with her dream of what it should look like. It is open and airy with pale green walls and a beautiful four-piece picture window overlooking the woods from the third floor of her new house. The studio has plenty of room for design- ing, sewing, and fittings. It is an appropriate setting for her creative talents, her energy, and her enthusiasm, as well as her dream of personalizing gowns for brides.
Tara Lynn is ready to re-launch her business. She says, “I decided to focus the business on the wedding gowns for now to develop and improve the product. It involves investing, marketing, and branding of that project as well as the market research. I would like to get to the point two years from now where I am selling 132 items a year. I have 15 years experience mak- ing custom-designed clothes and three years making wed- ding gowns full time.” In the last two years, Tara Lynn has made 10 to 12 gowns per year. She has people who work for her from time to time, but is looking for a good seamstress or someone who has a good foundation and wants to learn.
The Cambium Group in St. Johnsbury is working on her new website, which should launch in the near future. The new website will show sam- ples of the collection dresses that clients can order. There are four different styles: Terra Bella, Vintage Bride, Tara Lynn, and Custom Designs. They stand for “be enchanting, be stunning, be radiant, be you.” Dresses can be custom- ized by using different trim, embroidery, or even some- thing from your own mother’s wedding dress. The Vintage Bride dresses are all named after famous women from the ’50s. The Terra Bella dresses are all named after goddesses. The Tara Lynn dresses all have Italian names, which are part of her heritage.
Tara Lynn will also be launching her new site at www.earthbitch.com as well. Earth Bitch is the name for her site showcasing the art jackets and coats she makes, many of which have butter- flies on them. She wants to get back to making jackets onceshe has the bridal collection underway. Earth Bitch® is the nickname she got in college from her roommates because they were sick of her telling them to recycle. She liked it so much that she trademarked it right away.
She teaches at Lyndon Institute part time and has three morning classes teach- ing fashion, including mer- chandising, pattern making, design, illustrating, business, and retailing. On May 4 some of her students put on a fash- ion show with T-shirts they designed. Many of the T-shirts they used for this project came from H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everyday), the commu- nity thrift store on Depot Street in Lyndonville. The students decided to raise money for “To Write Love on Her Arms,” a non-profit based in Florida that assists people with addic- tions and depression in finding the help they need. In May, Tara Lynn, five of her students, and chaperones planned a trip to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. McQueen was a well-known British fashion designer who died in 2010. The museum will design a tour just for Tara Lynn’s class on the history of fashion through painting and sculpture.
Tara Lynn’s husband Evan has been a mechanic for years and that is his passion. He owns Big E’s Garage in Sutton and welds and repairs cars, motorcycles, and trucks. It works well for their relation- ship that they are both pas- sionate about their work and that work gets done at any hour of the day. Tara Lynn says, “Some days I work until 9 p.m. and so does he. We try to have lunch together every day. I then usually work from 1 to 8 p.m. designing. We work on weekends and lately we have been working on the new stu- dio.” Prior to the new studio, they both worked in the same building. Evan’s shop was on the first floor, and Tara Lynn’s studio was on the second floor.
When she is not working, she enjoys time with their dog and three cats, rock climb- ing, snowboarding at Burke, mountain biking, crocheting, volunteer work in the com- munity, and traveling to New York City. She likes to “visit, eat, and go to museums and shows, and then I’m ready to come back to Vermont again.”
Where does Tara Lynn see herself in 10 years? “I see myself working at a new studio, having three full-time employees, and possibly man- ufacturing three collections.” It sounds like she is designing not only dream gowns, but also her future.