A common thread I’ve discovered through interviewing so many social entrepreneurs is that they worked at a particular field that isn’t inherently social conscious and they realized, something had to be done to change it or make it better. They weren’t just going to sit back and say, “Oh that’s a terrible problem, someone should really do something about that.” So, more often than not, they left that job to do something and be a part of the solution.
My guest this week is Mary Sue Papale, the founder of Ashbury Skies. Mary’s upbringing and career background have greatly influenced the way she runs her business today and she has now developed a brand new shoe called the Bendy Shoe. It’s an athleisure shoe that is adorable, but it is completely ethical from start to finish. All the materials, the people that make the shoes – everything from start to finish is completely ethical. She shares all about her story today and I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation.
A COG IN THE WHEEL
Mary Sue Papale got her beginnings working for a fast fashion company – first in manufacturing and then on the buying side of things. She felt like she was a cog in the wheel of fast fashion, even in a time before the faults of fast fashion were truly realized. During her time working for this fast fashion company, she visited a tannery making kidskin leather. She was lead into the back of the tannery building, where she saw a small pond. She noticed that the pond was purple. They were dumping waste into a pond behind the building, and her employer went so far as to laugh about the situation. Mary Sue knew that she needed to be a part of the solution.
MADE TO ORDER
Mary Sue decided she no longer wanted to be a part of fast fashion. She had a sinking spell about the kind of work she was doing, and how unsustainable it was. She decided to step aside, even without an alternate plan in place. After much thought, she created Ashbury Skies – a small online shoe store for independent shoe designers. Most of her goods were made to order, rather than made in mass quantities. She sought to take part in the changing tides of ecommerce – taking advantage of the fact that a beautiful online shoe store could compete with larger retailers.
AMERICAN SOURCING FOR A MODERN SHOE
She eventually sought out to find a shoe that was great-looking, comfortable, flexible, and could be made in the US. In the last year she has been working incredibly hard on a major project – The Bendy Shoe – a shoe with a conscious. The Bendy Shoe is entirely ethically crafted in Los Angeles. Ashbury Skies wants their company to be authentic, and to be real. They are keeping production right in their backyard, making it kinder and gentler on the planet.
About Mary Sue Papale, Founder of Ashbury Skies:
Mary Sue is co-founder of Ashbury Skies and the Bendy: A shoe with a conscience. Prior to this she held senior management positions in Footwear and Accessories in buying and production for Esprit, Red Envelope and Bebe. Her fascinating story is about how unknowingly she played a part in the explosion of fast fashion and mass consumerism, as we know it today. After finally reconciling that she was a cog in the wheel for these reckless business practices, she stepped aside and launched her own shoe business in 2011. Ashbury Skies is a unique curated assortment of shoes for small independent designers. Most recently she created a modern comfort shoe, made in California, that is launching this summer. She now invites women to join in the revolution of rethinking fast fashion.
CONNECT WITH SABRINA
Join my Purchase with Purpose Facebook group and let’s continue the conversation! https://www.facebook.com/groups/purchasewithpurpose/