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Miss Vermont goes green

Miss Vermont 2008, Ashley Wheeler, was putting the final touches on her preparation for the Miss America pageant when we visited her last week. She fine tuned her vocal piece with the help of a local coach. She has been grilled by panels of mock interview judges and has met regularly with a personal trainer.

Last week, she picked up her custom-made evening gown from the designer-the gown was not made in New York or California, but rather in Sutton, Vt. And it's green, not forest green or sage green but eco-green-it's an eco-friendly dress made of hemp and silk, lined with hemp and organic cotton, and adorned with repurposed gold lace, beads and sequins.

"I was raised as part of a family-run business and I understand how important it is to support locally-owned and operated businesses," Wheeler told New Market Press newspapers. "So when it came time for me to purchase an evening gown for the Miss America pageant, I decided to keep my business in Vermont and call upon a designer from the Northeast Kingdom. I had heard about Tara Lynn and it was very appealing to go "green" for Miss America. I will be making a significant statement and suspect I will be the only contestant who has chosen to go this route. I think this is the perfect way for me to share my stance on preserving our environment and set myself apart from the other contestants."

Tara Lynn Scheidet, owner of Tara Lynn, is a talented and innovative designer, and is said to be the poster child for sustainable business in Northern Vermont. Her unique collections are inspired by and dedicated to environmental causes. Tara Lynn's studio runs off solar electricity. The shelves are stocked with vintage and recycled materials collected over years of yard sale shopping. The ceiling is adored with inspirational pictures hung over a floor of antique sewing machines.

The designer of Miss Vermont's evening gown shares, "Beauty is not artificial. Natural clothing is sexier than lifeless textiles made from hazardous materials. When women wear my clothes I want them to feel exuberant and special rather than objects of desire: strong, smart and powerful. Stylish sexy women set the example for the next generation."

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