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Monthly Archives: April 2020

  • Small businesses supporting each other

    Small businesses owner Johanne supporting each other in pink bendys

    Meet Johanna...and learn about a story of small businesses supporting each other

     

    Being a small business owner these days is tough – 2020 has brought a set of challenges we never predicted.  But we know that small businesses supporting each other is more important than ever.

     

    We want to continue featuring kick-ass women who refuse to let COVID-19 defeat their small business, Today, we bring you Johanna La Fleur (who also happens to be a part of the BENDY family).

     

    The BENDY team met Johanna at a Maker’s Market last summer in the Napa Valley. A fellow entrepreneur, we found her story inspiring and were immediately drawn to her sustainable aesthetic. We knew right away that small businesses supporting each other was the way forward so we stayed in touch and continued to bounce ideas off each our.

     

    This mom of three went from making handbags, gear, and home textiles…to making protective masks (and she made it look effortless, despite the sweat she put into it).

     

    In late March, Johanna’s design company EQUIPE made a major pivot. They created a hybrid model of paid home-based sewers and volunteer pattern cutters to produce over 1,300 masks to date.

     

    "I feel very lucky to be healthy and to have the tools to jump in to help my community using what comes naturally to me: hacking solutions when time and materials are short. This time has been busier than ever for EQUIPE, in completely unexpected ways."

     

    As for these unexpected endeavors, EQUIPE has:

     

    • 1. Created work-from-home sewing opportunities to the newly unemployed

     

    • 2. Donated PPE to Marin County healthcare workers & marginalized communities

     

    • 3. Offered stylish masks for people like you and me (with a donation in every purchase)

     

    Locating materials during shelter-in-place orders has been a challenge of its own, but EQUIPE has continued to deliver despite all odds.

     

    Johanna on her BENDY kicks:

     

    “They’re totally comfortable and have a colorful, punchy design. I love that they’re made here in California and have such simple, clean lines and really soft leather. I wear them at home a lot lately – where most of us are spending most of our time. I live in slip-on shoes – clogs  and flip flops are my genre. So Bendy shoes fit right in for me!”

     

     

    Johanna’s looking forward to being able to sport the BENDY around her stomping grounds once more.

     

     

    • For now, wearing them in her backyard — where she tends to 7 chickens and a home garden — will have to do.

     

     

    Johanna La Fleur in in Equipe facemask Small businesses supporting each other

  • From Women's Fashion to PPE with Alexander Zar

    Alex Zar, factory owner

     

     A women's shoe factory owner talks pivoting for the cause.

     

    Over here at BENDY, we've been interviewing some pretty impressive women in an effort to share cohesive positivity with our beloved community. From Jessica Rae to Grace Kraaijvanger, there's no denying that these women have made their mark — and will continue to do so despite the obstacles in front of them.

     

    But BENDY is a group that's bent on inclusivity, which means that positivity and inspiration isn't reserved for one type of person.

     

    That's why, today, we're featuring Alexander Zar, an entrepreneur and factory owner who went from making the BENDY to making PPE.

     

    Just last month, Alex was working hard to make premium women's handbags and shoes — like the BENDY — at his production facility in Los Angeles, California. He's been instrumental in bringing our own shoe to fruition, adhering to our wishes for style, comfort, and a low carbon footprint without fail.

     

    Fast forward to today and Alex has pivoted his business to combat the nationwide shortage of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for front liners. In California, shoe and handbags are nonessential, so it’s a stellar way to make use of his equipment.

     

    Instead of shoes and handbags, Alex is now shifting his California facility's focus on protective gowns, isolation suits, and face masks.

     

    He's sending his factory-made PPE to essential groups in Colorado, California and Florida. So who's benefiting? City entities, county sheriffs, security & law enforcement companies, hospitals & clinics, and local organizations are. He’s even making gear for his local police force, the LAPD.

     

    This equipment will directly support the ongoing battle against COVID-19, but that's not all it's good for...

     

    In addition to providing a valuable resource for COVID-19 fighters, Alex has kept his staff on payroll.

     

    Working with Alex and his team has never made us more proud. It just goes to show that doing right by others is always an option.
    .
    In short, he's one heck of an inspiration.

     

    And while there may not be any BENDY shoes rolling through the production line right now, your sole can rest easy knowing that we have your fave shoe in stock.

     

    Whether you're walking your dogs around the block or keeping it stylish from head to toe for your Monday morning video meeting, comfortable kicks with a lighter carbon footprint are here for you as you shelter in place. Shop here

     

    factory making PPE

     

    LAPD in PPD
  • 100% sustainable, 100% personal

    Let’s talk about what local and planet-friendly really looks like

     

    What's in the box?

     

    When you order a pair of BENDY's, you're making a choice to support local, eco-friendly small business - right down to our packaging.

     

    Your shoes will arrive in a box that's made from 100% recycled material and locally crafted right here in Colorado!

     

    hand signed shoes box

    Personalized BENDY box

     

    Each box comes with a handwritten message from one of the co-founders (either myself or Caroline), like this one:

     

    We've put our values into every aspect of our brand and we're excited to share them with you!

     

    Mary Sue

  • BENDY feature entrepreneur: Grace Kraaijvanger

    Bendy shoe in denim blue

     

    Meet Grace Kraaijvanger

     

    Last week, we introduced our series on how local entrepreneurs are surviving - and thriving - in the current COVID-19 crisis.

     

    We started off with Jessica Rae, who responded to the new “everyone stay at home” normal by putting her dance studio online, with virtual classes. Social distancing? Shelter-in-place? No problem!

     

    Our second story is about Grace Kraaijvanger, another dancer-turned-businesswoman and part of the BENDY family.

     

    Grace is the founder of The Hivery, a co-working space and inspiration lab in the Bay Area.

     

    After spending most of her 20s as an accomplished professional dancer, Grace found herself wanting to take the “togetherness” of a dance studio and apply it to a space for working women.

     

    That idea wouldn’t go away.

     

    Ten years after first coming up with the concept, she was a mom of two, retired from dance, and building a successful marketing career.

     

    But that idea Wouldn’t. Go. Away.

     

    After a particularly poignant conversation with a friend, Grace did what most people never do….

     

    She acted on her dream and created a collaborative space - The Hivery - for women working side-by-side.

     

    Grace also shared 3 important truths she embraced before making that jump:

     

     

    • 1) "I really was made to do this - it’s mine to do and the call is clear. I had to show up to my dream.

     

    • 2) I couldn’t wait for the fear to go away - I had to do it anyway. Fear is with us, but fear doesn’t own us.

     

    • 3) I didn’t have to do this alone… The Hivery became a metaphor for me of community; a collective...proof that together, we can do anything."

     

     

    Grace calls The Hivery a women’s collective (sounds better than “co-working space”, right??).

     

    She opened the first version of The Hivery in Sausalito in 2014, then quickly expanded to locations in downtown Mill Valley and the waterfront in San Francisco.

     

    When the ongoing health crisis hit a few weeks ago, brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants, stores, and - especially - collectives / co-working spaces were hit really hard, really quickly.

     

    But Grace? She’s not one to back down from a challenge!

     

    Like many entrepreneurs, perseverance is one of her inspirations. In her words,

     

    “Be brave, keep showing up, stay in the ring. I admire the tenacious dreamers that never give up. I am endlessly inspired by those who will take the long view, especially as it relates to how they can serve others.”

     

    So this social and economic shutdown? It’s just a blip.

     

    Grace - like other innovators here in our community - has adapted by taking her business online, creating virtual co-working for her members. She’s continued to offer mentorship, support, and community in this time when people need it most - even starting a little “make-me-laugh” thread to keep spirits high!

     

    Grace on her BENDY’s:

     

    "I’ve been wearing them all day! For my workday and my midday doggie walks. I love that they look so great with my favorite ripped jeans and add a little fashion to my (the world’s) new work-from-home reality.

     

    They are stylish, chic, unique, and SO comfortable. They feel great and look hip. They are perfect for these more casual working-from-home times (yet, I can’t wait to wear them when The Hivery is open again, too). I LOVE that they’re manufactured in California."

     

    Grace is an inspiration to us here at BENDY....she’s a voice of calm in a crazy time and a source of support for her community.

     

    If you’d like to nominate more businesswomen (like BENDY feature entrepreneur: Grace Kraaijvanger) and local leaders with shared values, please reply to this email and let us know!

     

    Stay safe, stay strong, and stay positive!

     

    denim blue bendys

  • 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

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