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Fashion & Beauty

Published on June 18th, 2018 | by Andrea Bertoli

Your Sustainability Story: Low-Carbon Shoes from Ashbury Skies

We’ve launched a new feature here at Important Media that encourages our readers to share their personal sustainability story. You can send in your story to have it featured on one of our sites by filling out the form here. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Tell us about your company
Yvette Turner and I 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. We carry unique, quirky brands, that stand out from other shoe collections. What was missing from our assortment was any shoe offering a lower environmental foot print. I attend all the industry trade shows and no one was playing in this space. Honestly, it is hard to do, but I knew there had to be a way, so we created one. Which led us here.

We are not going to BS anyone and tell them that these shoes have zero environmental impact – going barefoot is zero impact. Instead, we have a simple construction of great materials made by some very kind and talented folks in downtown LA. That allows for less transportation (low CO2) and fair wages paid to California workers, keeping it right in our backyard.

We think that less is more, which is why we didn’t include unnecessary ornaments, logos or detailing on the Bendy. Instead, we designed a simple, comfortable shoe and then responsibly sourced the materials. Soft leather, a flexible bottom, thread and a footbed. Four simple components, no harmful glues; just hand stitched.

Tell us about your background
I have seen first-hand what fast fashion is doing to our planet. I know this because I have worked in the fashion industry my entire career. Yvette and I worked for large multi chain retailers in key buying and marketing positions.

In the last 30 years the proliferation of inexpensive, overseas labor lured companies overseas for manufacturing. This led to mass, over-production and the exploitation of workers. Greenhouse gases emitted from these practices are a great contributor to global warming. I always had a pit in my stomach knowing that I was part of the problem, not the solution, until now. 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.

Tell us about your future
We think if given the choice, women would make better purchasing decisions. We think we can build a brand with this concept. If we stay true to our mission and tell our story with integrity, that others will come along. We would like to start a revolution of rethinking fast fashion.
What strategies were most helpful for you as you grew your green business?
Finding like minded people is the key. Many people in the shoe industry looked at me sideways when I told them I wanted to create a low Co2 shoes product and make in them California. It was as if I was an altruistic do-gooder. There are still a lot of people out there that hold this view. But when we started talking to those in the sustainable fashion world, it was an entirely different story.

We choose to launch our product through an up-coming crowd sourcing campaign. First, this was a way we could validate our concept. Second, we can cut to order, so it will be less waste. The exact opposite of the fast fashion business model of over-producing mass quantities overseas. Plus video is an incredible story telling tool.

What are your favorite tools for success?
Be malleable. When you start a business you have an idea of what you think will happen and what you want to happen. You have to honestly look at the reality of your business and adapt when it is up and running. Also, keep trying new things. Don’t let past failures discourage you.

Pick a business you are passionate about. You spend so much time doing it, you better love it, otherwise it will become a grind over the long run.

What do you wish you had been told before starting your business?
The green business world is like the new frontier. Many are drawn to it for the right reasons, but there is no right way or rules yet. There is no clear path for businesses to follow. Our product is not perfect either, but what we know for sure it is better than all the other China made shoes. We will continue to hone our product and as we learn and get access to more resources we will adapt. In sustainable fashion it is about having the courage to talk about the dangerous, standard business practices occurring as we speak in our industry and presenting alternatives. That is what we are about. We would like to start a revolution of rethinking fast fashion.
Where can People Learn more about you?
LinkedIn; IndieGOGO, and Facebook




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About the Author

A vegan chef, cookbook author, educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in San Francisco, Andrea is also the Accounts Manager for Important Media. Follow her foodie adventures at AndreaBertoli.com, Vibrant Wellness Journal, Green Living Ideas and Eat Drink Better. Find more from Andrea on Facebook and Instagram



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