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  • 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

  • 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

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