Here comes the environmentally conscious bride

Anysia McDowall, owner of Verdant Bridal, runs a full-service bridal shop, from gowns to wedding planning, but with a bit of a twist.


GULFPORT — This article is the first in a series featuring Black-owned businesses you can find using the online resource The Green Book of Tampa Bay. Green Book’s mission is to increase Black-owned businesses’ presence and economic power by introducing them to the broader community.

Meet Anysia McDowall, owner of Verdant Bridal. Find out what makes her bridal business stand out and how she helps her brides use their big day to make a difference in the environment.

For McDowall, it’s about more than just fashion. As the owner of Verdant Bridal, she runs a full-service bridal shop, from gowns to wedding planning, but with a bit of a twist. Many of her gowns and other clothing are considered sustainable fashion and fair trade garments.

Anysia McDowall was featured on Channel 28’s Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend.

Fair trade fashion refers to garments made by artisans receiving a living wage for their work. Sustainable fashion is clothes made with environmentally friendly materials. Along with the bridal shop, her company includes a fashion boutique featuring sustainable fashion and handmade gifts.

McDowall said taking the time to ensure her inventory has a deeper meaning than just helping her clients look beautiful is imperative.

“As a first-generation American, I understand how important it is that people are treated fairly,” she said.

And while fashion may be her business, her love of all things sustainable extends to more than just the clothes she wears or carries in her store.

“I care about the story behind everything I consume, the food I eat, what I buy in the store,” she said. “It’s something my parents instilled in me.”

McDowall’s parents are from Trinidad, where her mother was a seamstress. As a result, she understands what goes into bringing a garment to life and that there is a person responsible for every piece of clothing we wear.

“I know how much time it takes,” she said. “People are at the heart of all of it.”

It’s that heart for people that started McDowall’s journey. She began her career working in the nonprofit space, planning galas and fundraisers. When a friend called one day desperate for help after her wedding planner abandoned the job just a few weeks before her daughter’s wedding, McDowall stepped in.

“I told the Lord that if I enjoyed it, I would create a business from this,” she revealed. “That was in 2015.”

Verdant Bridal is a full-service bridal shop that sells sustainable fashion and fair trade garments.

Not long after that, she talked with a bride-to-be who had bought two wedding dresses because she couldn’t decide which one she wanted. But there was one problem. There was a no-return policy for at least one of the dresses. That bride’s dilemma sparked an idea and a way for McDowall to expand her business. 

“I wondered how many women were like her with the same problem,” she said. “They can’t decide, buy more than one dress and then have to figure out what to do with the one they don’t choose. So, I decided to add wedding dresses to the business.”

Along with new wedding gowns, Verdant Bridal also carries a selection of “pre-loved” gowns to appeal to every bride’s budget.

“The economy has changed, so we do our best to provide women different options,” McDowall said.

Along with providing dresses for various budgets, the mom of three walks her brides through what it means to not only purchase a fair trade dress or made with sustainable fiber but also make other environmentally conscious decisions about their big day.

“When they walk through the door, I welcome them and immediately tell them about us and what makes us different,” she said. “And if they are open to it, we talk about how they can think mindfully and have close to zero waste and still have a beautiful day — things like their choice of flowers or how they can source locally.”

She is even about to debut a new partnership with a local wine company that sells fair trade wine from South Africa.

For McDowall, the opportunity to educate is a big part of her business, and it gives her a chance to plant the seed for someone to start thinking more consciously about the impact their purchases have on others, even people they don’t know.

“I am a believer that knowledge is power,” she said. “Sometimes, I can see the lightbulb go off as I am talking with them. Now the seed is planted, and they know that they can shop for items right in their community that are fair trade and sustainable fashion and that they can push retailers to think differently about the things they carry.”

To learn more about McDowall and Verdant Bridal, visit Also, visit to find more Black-owned businesses to support.

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