About us

Softstar Shoes: Strong from the Ground Up

What does Softstar do? We make minimal shoes for happy, healthy feet. Every one of our shoes is handcrafted in the USA in our workshop in Oregon. We work hard to make Softstar a socially and environmentally responsible company, as well as giving a good experience to both our employees and our customers.

Our Core Values

  1. Share the handcrafted experience with our customers: Make unique, beautiful, comfortable and quality footwear while encouraging direct interaction via excellent customer service.
  2. Walk lightly on the earth: Conserve raw materials by thoughtful use. Minimize our environmental footprint with sustainable practices that include reducing waste, reusing and recycling.
  3. Make our workshop a wonderful place to work: A creative, energizing and efficient workspace. An open, honest atmosphere where we work with mutual respect and dignity. A place where our families and community are welcome and integrated.
Softstar shoes are
  • minimal
    …like gloves for your feet, allowing for natural movement and healthy foot development.
  • leather
    …naturally soft and breathable that feel and smell yummy.
  • simple
    …elegant, clean designs that give you all the essentials in a shoe.
  • handcrafted
    …by jolly master shoemakers (elves) in our workshop right here in Oregon.
  • customizable
    …choose from hundreds of color and pattern combinations and we’ll make it.


History of Softstar Shoes

Unable to find healthy minimal shoes for their daughter Corina, carpenter Tim Oliver and his wife Jeanie learn to sew soft leather shoes from a local artisan. The shoes are sold to friends and neighbors.


1985 - Softstar Founders Tim and Jeanie Oliver

Unable to find healthy minimal shoes for their daughter Corina, carpenter Tim Oliver and his wife Jeanie learn to sew soft leather shoes from a local artisan. The shoes are sold to friends and neighbors.

1986 - Softstar shoes at Sawdust Art Festival

Tim and Jeanie bring a batch of their handmade shoes to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach, California, where they are sold under the name Softstar for the first time.


1987 - First Softstar workshop was a school bus

The Oliver family uses their proceeds from the festival to purchase a plot of land in Wimberly, Texas for their first home—plus an old school bus to live in until it is completed. Tim builds the house himself and the family moves in as soon as the roof is up. The school bus then becomes the first official Softstar shoemaking workshop

Over the next few years, Softstar Shoes are sold via mail order and craft fairs as Tim and Jeanie celebrate the birth of their second daughter, Violet. The whole family helps make shoes with one strict rule: everyone must jump into the crystal clear Blanco River at the end of every work day.


1990 - First Softstar storefront in Corvallis, Oregon

Tim and Jeanie decide a move to Oregon is best for the family. Sadly, the school bus is left behind, but they open the first brick and mortar Softstar workshop in the small town of Corvallis.


2001 - First Softstar Shoes Website

The first Softstar website is launched featuring photos of the five available shoe styles with a printable mail order form (checks or money orders only).


2005 - Tricia Salcido and Larkin Holavarri Buy Softstar Shoes

Friends and business partners Tricia Salcido and Larkin Holavarri approach Tim about purchasing Softstar Shoes. Like Tim, they want to sell products that are healthy for their families (Tricia has one child and Larkin is pregnant with her first). Tim agrees and stays on to manage shoe production while the new owners focus on growing the business. Their first priority: online checkout.

The new owners also explore new ways to encourage Softstar’s core value of “walking lightly on the earth,” solar panels are installed on the workshop’s roof and all power is sourced from renewable energy. Other sustainable measures include composting, reusable towels, a workshop recycling program, donating leather scraps for crafts and providing incentives for employees to bike to work.


2010 - Softstar RunAmocs become popular minimal running shoes.

As barefoot and minimal running become popular, many customers call to say they are running races in Softstar’s moccasins. After months of experimenting, the moccasin is modified into a running shoe with ankle laces and a rubber sole. Fans vote to choose the name RunAmoc for this new shoe, which exceeds all expectations for sales. Within the next 12 months, the Softstar workshop and staff double to keep up with RunAmoc orders. Softstar's designers begin to develop an entire line of minimal shoes for adults.


2017 - Softstar moves to bigger workshop in Philomath, Oregon

When the Corvallis workshop ran out of growing room, Tricia and Larkin began restoration of a historic building in neighboring Philomath, Oregon to be the new home of Softstar Shoes. The new workshop and retail space officially opened in February, 2017.


2020 - Softstar Expands Primal Styles

More shoe styles are introduced, including merino wool shoes and an expanding Primal line of shoes that feature the widest toe box on the footwear market to maximize a barefoot experience. Softstar now makes over 20 different styles for children and adults.


2021 - Softstar adds a digital cutting system to the workshop

The Zünd Cutting System automatically cuts patterns while minimizing leather waste and investment in metal dies. The cutting system reduces development time and provides flexibility to improve designs over time.


2023 - Softstar Becomes a B Corp

Softstar changes its legal structure and becomes a certified Benefit Corporation. Softstar also acquires B Corp certification, a third-party stamp of approval granted to businesses that follow high standards of environmental and social stewardship benefiting the greater community.


Meet the Shoemaking Elves

Our Elves are creative and talented artisans who actively participate in the shoe design process. We have 30 years of shoe-making experience at our disposal, and we are constantly working to find new ways to improve our work. Softstar is committed to helping all its team members maintain satisfying work and family lives, offering flexible scheduling, paid time off, and paid maternity/paternity leave. In an effort to encourage professional and personal growth, Softstar also provides funding for continuing education opportunities, empowering employees to expand their skills and pursue their passions.
Elf Rob

Facilities Elf

Favorite Shoe: Zen Moccasin
Elf Larkin

Secret Agent Elf

Favorite Shoe: Hawthorne Chukka
Elf Tim

Founder & Shoe Sherrif

Favorite Shoe: Roo Moccasin
Elf Sarah

Chief People Officer

Favorite Shoe: Ballerine
Elf Nicole

Purchasing Elf

Favorite Shoe: Primal Sawyer
Elf Keita

Efficiency Elf

Favorite Shoe: Moc3 RunAmoc
Elf Hava

Production Lead Elf

Favorite Shoe: Roo Moccasin
Elf Benjamin


Favorite Shoe: Rogue
Elf Molly

Development Elf

Favorite Shoe: Switchback Boot
Elf Lewis

Customer Service Lead Elf, Excel Junkie

Favorite Shoe: Barefoot
Elf Anna

Promotions & Media Liaison

Favorite Shoe: Solstice Sandal
Elf Juno

Silent Partner

Favorite Shoe: The chewy ones
Tricia Salcido and family
Elf Trish & Family
Favorite Shoes: Tivi/Dash, Oly/Phoenix, Trish/Moc3, Cruz/Rogue, Sal/Oxford