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  • How one local businesswoman is adapting amid the crisis

    Photo credit : Jeremy Cortez Photo credit : Jeremy Cortez


    Meet Jessica...


    Between a global pandemic and a crashing economy…..things are looking bleak for small businesses.


    That's what is is so important for us to come together and support one another.


    In an effort to do so, we’re kicking off a couple of interviews with incredible women who are both business leaders and community figures (and who happen to be part of the BENDY family!).


    You’ll learn about their stories and how they’re combating the current health and economic crises.


    Our first story is about Jessica Rae. She runs two businesses in San Francisco and although they’ve been affected by the recent downturn, Jessica has come back swinging!


    Jessica owns and operates a dance and fitness studio (Rae Studios) and a talent agency (Rae Agency).


    Over the last 9 years, she’s grown both in a big way!


    Rae Agency is now the largest home for dancers in the Bay Area and Rae Studios serves 500+ students and subscribers.


    Like any brick-and-mortar business owner, Jessica took a major hit as the health crisis escalated and people were eventually ordered to stay home and shelter in place.


    Here’s where most business owners would - understandably - get frustrated and maybe even give up.


    But not Jessica…


    It took her and her team just 10 hours to launch an entirely new business model!


    They put together their first-ever virtual dance classes, connecting their instructors with their students via webcams. Voila! A streaming solution!


    Now have there been tech issues? Sure. But Jessica and her team have solved every challenge that’s come their way and managed to run online classes for 250+ students in the last week.


    She’s kept her students learning and her instructors working - a blessing every way you look at it!


    From our team at Bendy, we’d like to celebrate Jessica and the Rae Studio team! If you’d like to learn more about her and the new Virtual Studio, click here [LINK].


    Jessica on her Bendy’s:


    “I usually slip on a pair of Bendy’s during my 9-5 as I meet with my team and run between client meetings for a more business casual look. I even dress them down on Sundays walking my pup or grocery shopping with a pair of jeans and a cozy sweater.”


    Jessica Rae in denim bendy's Photo Credit: Jeremy Cortez

  • Just Checking In On the BENDY Community

    Hey BENDY Community,


    I hope you’re adjusting well to life during the pandemic. As we all prepare for the COVID-19 directives, it seems like a good time to reflect.


    A bright side for me: I have my college freshman home. We’ve used this unexpected free time to get closer.  Just yesterday, we baked chocolate chip cookies. Tonight, the plan is Runzas. This recipe was passed down from my German-Russian grandmother and oozes familiarity. Normally, I’m too busy to roll out the dough and stuff the pockets with cabbage & ground beef, but today feels different. It seems like slowing down matters so much more.


    Take time to consider what this shifted day-to-day means for you. If you can, I want to ask you all to reflect on how your clothes and shoes are made.


    I firmly believe that the future of fashion lies in ethical and sustainable manufacturing. Today, 98% of the footwear industry is dependent on an Asia-made manufacturing base. This cost-effective way once brought shoes to the market when people needed it most. Ultimately, its downfall will be its detrimental impact on the environment and the people who make these shoes.


    The shoe and apparel industry is incredibly energy consuming, polluting and wasteful.


    • Last year, the fashion industry emitted about 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases.
    • Labor violations continue to run rampant in China.
    • Each year in the US, 300 million pairs of poorly made shoes wind up in landfills.


    We created BENDY because we wanted to give women an alternative way to shop. BENDY is:


    • Handcrafted in our home state of California.
    • More simply made, with fewer components than other shoes.
    • Made from leather from a Green Certified tannery.
    • Made in safe working conditions.
    • Supportive of local artisans.


    Today, we’re stocked in shoes and ready to ship. Don’t fret; we’re practicing responsible social distancing and taking those extra precautions!


    The most important thing is to stay safe & healthy. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of our small business and more ethically made shoes.


    Mary Sue

  • Celebrating one year of BENDY

    a pink stylish comfortable shoe Stylish, comfortable shoes: BENDY


    Hey friends,


    Exactly 1 year ago, we launched the BENDY shoe. Take a step back with us to see how far we’ve come!


    Our first priority was comfort.


    Then, we chose conscious materials and a too-cool design.
    For us, local mattered. That’s why BENDY is handcrafted in our home state of California.


    We had a hunch. If we made a planet-friendly and socially just shoe, women would listen. We’re proud to say that we were right!


    To you travelers, doers, dreamers & eco warriors who choose BENDY to guide you on your path—we’re humbled to be the shoe that makes you look and feel good after a long day.


    If you haven’t experienced the BENDY for yourself, go on and try a pair. If you’re already feeling the BENDY love, share our story with other like-minded women who deserve a better shoe.


    As we head into our second year, we thank you for your support!


    Catch you around the bend,


    Mary Sue and Caroline


    Learn more about the BENDY here



  • Meet the BENDY Founders : Mary Sue and Caroline

    mary sue papale and caroline debaere Mary Sue and Caroline, BENDY co-founders

    Caroline and I have been in the shoe business our entire careers. We met in our first jobs out of college and became great friends. Over the years we went our separate ways, career wise, but always stayed in touch.

    A few years ago, having been in fashion for years and seeing first hand, its' impact on the environment, I decided to create a shoe that was kinder on the planet.  I immediately thought of Caroline to partner with me to build this shoe.  She was up for it and it has been a dream partnership.

    Well fast forward to today and we are well on our way. We created a modern, comfortable shoe with a lower carbon footprint and the results are in. Women are choosing the bendy when they need to look good AND be on their feet all day.

    The image above is Caroline and me on the first anniversary of our launch.   Please don't hesitate to reach out to us on instragram or facebook. Shoot us a question or a comment and we will be sure to get back to you.

    If you have a pair, thank you for your support. If you don't yet, give them a try and see if the BENDY works for you.

    Shop BENDY here

  • Leather VS Vegan Shoes: The Surprising Eco-Friendly Results




    Sometimes, the sustainable answer is right in front of us. Local produce instead of imported food, reusable totes instead of plastic bags—these are practices that eco-warriors know and love. But what about those times when the answer isn't so obvious?

    At first glance, a vegan shoe might seem like the most environmentally friendly option, but what happens when you take a step back? Here's what I learned when I compared sustainable leather shoes to vegan footwear.

    What is Vegan Leather?

    Typically, manufacturers craft vegan leather shoes using a range of materials. Here are a few of the most common:

    • Polyvinyl chloride, a firm plastic otherwise known as PVC

    • Phthalates, a chemical that makes stiff PVC pliable

    • Polyurethane (PU), or vinyl, that's used to give fabric a leathery appeal

    • Chemical solvents used to liquify vinyl

    These plastics and chemicals are just a few of the materials that go into vegan leather production. Both PVC and vinyl are versatile and inexpensive—not to mention their uncanny leather-like appearance—but they're not without their faults.

    With such an intense chemical makeup, carbon-intensive footprint (no pun intended) and lack of biodegradability, there's no denying the environmental impact of mass-produced vegan leather. Even though vegan leather might avoid the animal welfare issues of raising cattle, it isn't exactly environmentally friendly.

    Behind Stella's Vegan Leather

    Stella McCartney prides themselves on being a vegetarian brand. When so many other fashion labels take the easy way out, I think they're making a pretty noble stamp on the industry. Regardless, they still make their vegan shoes out of an amalgam of polyester and vinyl.

    To be specific, they use a recycled polyester backing and a coating made of 50% vegetable oil. This is miles better than most other faux leathers in the market, but the bulk of their materials remain chock full of environmental concerns. At the end of the day, a pair of Stella McCartney lace-up sneakers come at a steep environmental price—and that's all ignoring the dent they'll put in your wallet.

    Eco-Conscious Alternatives to Vegan Leather

    Not every veg-forward fashion brand has a hefty environmental footprint. While less common, we do have some eco-conscious alternatives to plastic materials.

    Although promising, these materials don’t mimic the softness, durability and scalability of leather. Perhaps in the future we'll see more of them, but for now, most accessible vegan shoes are sure to have plastic components. For the sake of the planet, that's a fact we can't ignore.

    Leather Brings Lifespan & Comfort

    If you're not totally anti-animal product, responsibly tanned leather is a solid option. Leather is a natural byproduct of the meat industry, and disposing of the hide without making use of it is undeniably wasteful. Making use of leather from the right sources lets you contribute to a circular economy, and that's the most eco-conscious way to live.

    Why's leather been so popular for so long? Its lifelong durability, of course. A pair of leather shoes can last more than 20 years. When they seem like they're worn out, you can fix 'em right up so they feel like new. Leather often gets better with age, so long as you condition your kicks and repair them when the going gets rough.

    Folks with a dire need for comfort keep a pulse on the best leather brands. Real leather is breathable, eliminating sweat and foot odor. The material is pliable and forms to your foot, which can be a gamechanger for consumers with a need for orthopedic comfort. On the contrary, synthetic leather often fails to mold to your foot, inviting blisters and stinky feet.

    In Leather Shoes, the Tannery Matters

    Just like faux leather, the leather industry is not totally innocent. Tanning leather requires chromium, salts, formaldehyde and dyes. But just like vegan shoes, innovative technology proves to be the answer to a growing climate awareness.

    People have built wild efficiencies into the tanning process, helping to mitigate leather’s environmental footprint. Responsible, green-certified tanneries are the way of the future. Eco-friendly tanneries are saying no to old school tanning methods by reducing chromium in the tanning process, using water-based finishing and recycling water to keep their impact down.

    What's It Mean to Take Ethical Shoemaking Seriously?

    Taking the ethical shoe game seriously means digging into the root of your production process. It means considering the source of every material you use, questioning manufacturers and recycling resources whenever possible. That's what BENDY is all about, but this eco-friendly shoe brand is not the only one making shoes that are kinder to the planet.

    Reformation, Rothy's and Allbirds are leading brands with a sustainable motive. Like BENDY, they're playing the long game and considering their environmental footprint in every step of their product cycle.

    I'm confident that this shift in perspective will make a big difference for fashion-forward eco-warriors the world over.

    Fast Fashion: The Root of the Issue

    Whether you're buying real or faux leather, one thing's for certain. Fast fashion is a detrimental industry, and one that neither side of the spectrum ought to encourage.

    Fast fashion giants like H&M and Zara violate both animal and human rights. Outerwear brand Canadian Goose traps coyotes for their jacket fur linings. Meanwhile, vegan brand Matt & Nat uses PVC and vinyl, all while producing their goods in China factories.

    The moral of the story? We need to do better—for the planet, its animals and the people who live among them.

    Find Your Moral Footing

    Rocking a high-quality shoe with an ethical background is a good feeling. Depending on your priorities, that shoe might be made from vegan leather where no animals were used in the process. Or it might be made from real leather with the help of a sustainable tannery.

    At the end of the day, the leather versus vegan shoe debate really comes down to one thing: your own morals. At BENDY, we're purveyors of sustainable wear, and that's what matters most to us. If your views differ, we respect that—just do the planet a favor by keeping the environment in mind with every step you take.

    BENDY by Ashbury Skies BENDY by Ashbury Skies

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