The BENDY Story
It all started when we set out to create a super comfortable yet fashionable shoe that could be worn all day. One for navigating the comfort-style dilemma. We know this well, we hail from San Francisco where the hills give you no breaks and style counts. We created the BENDY, a sneaker flat, for women with modern lifestyles, like ours.
We knew a flexible bottom, buttery soft leather upper and a cushioned footbed like the ones in running shoes were the key components. We also knew a low carbon footprint and making it in our home state would make this product like no other shoe ever made.
The BENDY is made of 5 simple components: leather, a flexible bottom, thread, a footbed and an insole support. That’s it...nothing else.
Creating change in our industry
When we created the BENDY we knew we wanted to handcraft great shoes, but we also wanted to play a role in getting our industry to rethink the current design practices that are damaging to the environment. We think the design and manufacturing of shoes needs to be looked at through a new lens for the good of the planet, and educating the next generation of designers is the best way to create real change. So now that we have hit our goal, we are announcing that a The first of Ethical Shoe Design Scholarship with Pacific Northwest College of Art’s prestigious PENSOLE Footwear Design School. A portion of our proceeds with go to fund this scholarship
Our Superior Footbed
Our footbed sets us apart from other casual shoes. It’s the kind you would find in a high performance running shoe. The casual shoe industry often overlooks innovative and high quality materials in favor of cheaper materials that don’t wear or feel as good. Our removable footbed is breathable, lightweight, washable and will not break down or loose its shape after wearing.
Let’s Get Nerdy, Craft & Science
An average pair of sneaker produces 30 lbs of C02 emissions, that is the equivalent of leaving a 100 watt light bulb on for 1 week. The BENDY has fewer processing steps so we so have a big emissions savings.
In Our Backyard: we Love California and the People Who Live Here
Our shoes are made ethically in Sunny California. Our goal is to establish direct, long-term relationships with our makers. We can ensure that fair wages, safe working conditions and no child labor is used in making our shoe. We support a community of shoe makers in Los Angeles. We think how things are made should matter as much as making money.
Responsibly Sourced Leather
Soft, pliable & responsible: Our Italian tannery is a leading player in ethical, responsible tanning. They are a leader in minimizing the impact of tanning on the environment and on workers. They have set the gold standard and are sharing this information with others.
Why the BENDY is more ethical
The BENDY generates less emissions because it has just five components vs thirty in an average sneaker. The BENDY is cut to order, so it produces less waste, and uses a stitched construction which averts toxic glues. Because production is in California, the shoe isn’t transported over vast distances so it maintains a lower carbon footprint. The BENDY also promotes fair wages and safe working conditions for workers.
We think where components come from and how things are made matter. We believe customers have the right to know. We source from ethical US suppliers whenever possible. Since few shoes are made in the US anymore, some components can not be sourced here so we need to import. When sourcing from overseas, we select the most ethical products and makers we can find. Take a look at how we measure up against a typical imported sneaker here:
The Truth About Fast Fashion
In the last 30 years the proliferation of inexpensive labor lured companies overseas for manufacturing. This led to mass, over-production and the exploitation of workers. Greenhouse gases from these practices in the shoe industry are a great contributor to global warming. We offer a shoe where the creation is not in conflict with the health of the people making them and significantly less impact on our planet.
September: Campaign Launches
October-November: First production run of shoes is made
November: First production run of shoes are shipped
December/Jan: Second production run of shoes is made
January: Second production run of shoes are shipped.
Nice to meet you
We founded Ashbury Skies in 2011, a highly curated website for small independent shoe designers. Our one-of-a-kind shoe collection is like no other. Having been in fashion for years, we have seen first hand, its impact on the environment. What was missing from our assortment was a modern comfort shoe and really any shoe offering a lower environmental foot print; so we created one. We partnered with Caroline de Baere, a veteran shoe designer (and old friend) to create the BENDY.
They knew there was a better way, so they took what we learned and what we cared about and created an alternative. If given a choice, the think women would make better purchasing decisions. If you believe, come along with us and start the revolution of rethinking fashion.
About Mary Sue Papale
Mary Sue, co-founder Ashbury Skies. Mary Sue has a comprehensive, broad-based knowledge of product design, merchandising, production and digital marketing. Prior to launching Ashbury Skies and the BENDY, she held VP and Division Manager positions for multi chain retailers in fashion footwear. She has a proven record in building businesses through creative, out-side-the-box strategies.
Mary Sue grew up in Nebraska, where she inherited her pioneer spirit. She is not afraid to go where others have not to find something better. Those who know her are not surprised to learn about her latest project, the BENDY, and her plain to start the revolution of rethinking fast fashion. See LinkedIn profile here. See facebook page here
Other major accomplishments: Standout Mom to Nicky (17)
About Yvette Turner
Yvette, co-founder Ashbury Skies, Yvette is a digital marketing expert and has held senior positions in fashion design, merchandising and product development. Her creative and innovate approach to business has lead to success in E-Commerce Director roles for big fashion retailers.
Yvette’s right and left brain are in perfect alignment. She is one of those rare ones that can navigate pivot charts in Excel as well as the magic wand tool in Photoshop. A native Californian, Yvette has a love for fashion and the environment and the BENDY is the accumulation of these passions. See LinkedIn profile here.
Other major accomplishments: Standout Mom to Mateo (14) and Cole (12)
About Caroline de Baëre
Caroline, The BENDY product guru, is a footwear industry veteran with 30 years of leadership experience in strategic product design, development and merchandising as well as planning, sourcing and cost negotiation. Her roles include Director of Product Development and Vice President, Footwear for successful brands which include managing Design and Development as well as Sales teams.
Caroline holds 4 footwear design patents. This, along with her extensive footwear experience, has resulted in providing footwear expert services in design and utility patent cases.
Caroline’s unique point of view offers a vision of the entire product cycle and process of creating a footwear collection from start to finish. She believes her French background and European immigrant parents taught her a strong work ethic and provided her with an entrepreneurial spirit. The BENDY is the culmination of many years in footwear and her passion for ethical manufacturing and eco design. See her LinkedIn profile here
Other major accomplishments: Standout Mom to Tristan and Camille (9)
How we got our name
Our kids inspired us in many ways as we created the BENDY, but Camille, Caroline’s daughter, wins the distinguished title of ‘Namer of the BENDY’.
Mary Sue racked her brain for months on end trying to come up with just the right name. Until one day when she stopped by Caroline’s house to pick up a prototype and Camille answered the door. Mary Sue announced that she was here to pick up the shoe her mom had been working on. Camille replied, you mean the BENDY shoe? As it rolled off her lips Mary Sue knew that was the one. We couldn’t resist getting her on video telling her story.
Risks and challenges
We have final prototypes with fit approved and materials sourced. Most production materials are purchased and in our production facility. We have spent our entire careers in fashion and shoe production, so we have a lot of knowledge, know-how and experience. Our factory in LA has been operating, ethically for 10 years. They are good, hardworking people, who we vouch for. That said, since we don’t own our own factory, unforeseen challenges could occur in the production process that are beyond our control. We will do everything we can (even camping out in the factory) to overcome any obstacles, delays or risks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)