Using Entrepreneurship to Change the Future of Footwear (Plus, Crowdfunding Success) with Mary Sue Papale of Ashbury Skies + The BENDY

On this week’s episode of the Spirit of 608 podcast, we hear from a FEST founder who witnessed a fashion manufacturer’s shocking environmental damage early on in her career at one of top brands of the day. What she saw was something she never forgot. Fast forward through leaving corporate fashion to start her own ecommerce brand and arriving at today, and she’s joined with other fashion industry insiders to create the change she wants to see in the world. Here’s what that looks like: leveraging her background in the industry to manufacture a made-in-California, environmentally-conscious shoe with a low carbon footprint, then crowdfunding it to success. But not only that: her commitment to changing how footwear is made goes far beyond her own brand, as evidenced in a new Ethical Footwear Design Course she’s helped to create in partnership with PENSOLE – the first training for designers of its kind.

Meet this week’s guest, Mary Sue Papale, co-founder of Ashbury Skies + The BENDY.

What you’ll learn

Mary Sue Papale was working at one of the biggest brands of the 80’s and was enjoying a successful career in fashion when she suddenly witnessed something that changed her life forever. She saw firsthand the damage that the fashion industry levies on the environment – and more specifically, an entire lake. Find out how that experience has shaped her career – and future businesses on the show. 

How you’ll be inspired

For so many entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge is not doing all the things – but really just trying to stick to one. If that’s you, you’ll draw essentialism inspo from listening to Mary Sue talk about the value of niching down to focus on one very special product. Hear why Mary Sue and her team chose this direction – and why it’s working for them – on the episode. 

What you’ll tell your friends

OMG, I was listening to the Spirit of 608 podcast today, and the woman on the show was talking about a lavendar lake, like from fashion industry dye runoff. I know it happens, but can you imagine just standing there looking at an entire lake that essentially became a chemical dumping ground so we can have cool looking handbags? It’s crazy. But it led her to change the direction of her career and pioneer change – so inspiring! 

Resource of the week

One Million By One Million Mary Sue recommends this global online accelerator program as a place for mission-based entrepreneurs to head, thanks to its goal of nurturing one million founders to reach a million in annual revenue. 

Connect with Mary Sue Papale



Instagram: @ashburyskies

Twitter: @ashburyskies

Mentioned in this episode:




Google Ads


Nasty Gal




One Million By One Million


Facebook Ads


T-shirt motto: Ask me about the Bendy, a modern comfort shoe.

Find more episodes featuring women at the forefront of FEST online at



© Spirit of 608