What's the story behind Ashbury Skies?
"We first met while we worked for Bebe. Mary Sue ran the shoes and accessories division and Yvette ran the e-commerce business. Then this past spring the concept of Ashbury Skies started over lunch in the Panhandle. Yvette was recovering from an 18-month ordeal with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Meanwhile, Mary Sue knew what she wanted to do, but she also knew that her e-commerce know-how was limited. So, we joined forces."
What's the concept of the site?
"The concept is simple: Create a modern space where independent designs can flourish. Why? Because great design can make your heart beat louder. That is why we started working in this business to begin with, and we wanted to fall in love with fashion again. Our inspiration for our brand came from the Summer of Love. This is a generation that gave us flower power, the peace movement, bell-bottoms, and Woodstock. These hippies created a counter culture and changed the world. We started Ashbury Skies to bring together a collection of shoes from indie designers and we both felt like that market was underserved."
What brands are you selling?
"We will carry indie favorites like Dolce Vita and Jeffery Campbell that have a cult-like following. Other names that folks may be less familiar with are 80%20, Plomo, Philip Simon, Messeca, Matiko, Madison Harding, Haus of Price, Ego & Greed, and local designer Gee Wa Wa."
How would you describe the aesthetic of the site and your shopper?
"We want the site to reflect San Francisco's undeniable beauty and convey the free spirit of the non-conformist fashionista. It's in that same vein that we describe our shopper. Each shoe has a story to tell and we don't have any boring black shoes. We know our shopper wears leopard wedges to work and jeweled pumps to coffee."
Where do you see the site going in the future?
"Over the next couple of months we'd like to open up an invitation for designers to submit styles to be sold on the site. We would continue to vet the merchandise for quality and style, but after that we would put it into the hands of the customer to judge who the next up-and-coming designers are. There are other sites that have an open service to designers, but I think what makes Ashbury Skies different is that we will be highly selective in choosing designers that have that street-style meets boho-glamour aesthetic. Plus, because we have spent our careers in retail, we know quality when we see it and we will not allow a good design with poor construction into the collection."
Will you ever branch out beyond footwear?
"Eventually we'd like to add jewelry and apparel to compliment the footwear collection. There are so many great indie designers right here in the Bay Area that we can tap into. And we think our shoppers will come from all over the world to interact on our site and learn about the best emerging indie designers we've found, or tell us about the best emerging designers in Stockholm or Tokyo or Omaha! We are thinking big."
Photo: Courtesy Ashbury Skies