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 healhty foot development.
  • leather
    …naturally soft and breathable that feel and smells yummy.
  • simple
    …by jolly master shoemakers (elves) in our workshop right here in Oregon
  • 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.

1985-softstar-founders-tim-jeanie-oliver

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-jeanie-oliver

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-sawdust-art-festival

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-school-bus

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

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.

1995-first-adult-softstar-shoes-roo-moccasins

1995 Roo Moccasins are first Softstar shoes for adults

As business grows throughout the 1990s, a radical decision is made to try making shoe patterns in adult sizes. The Roo moccasin becomes Softstar’s first adult shoe.

2001-first-softstar-website

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-new-softstar-owners-tricia-salcido-larkin-holavarri

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-runamoc-minimalist-running-shoes

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.

2014-working-mothers-at-softstar-shoes

2014 - Softstar benefits working mothers

Child and adult shoe styles continue to multiply, and so do the Softstar families! With the birth of baby Shel, Tricia and Larkin end up with three kids each and Tim has his second grandchild. Understanding the struggle of working parents, they maintain a kid-friendly policy at Softstar. In addition to family leave benefits, employees can bring children to work and schedule changes are made easy.

2017-softstar-moves-to-philomath-oregon

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.

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.
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Elf Tricia

C.Elf.O

Favorite Shoe: Moc3 RunAmoc
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Elf Larkin

Secret Agent Elf

Favorite Shoe: Hawthorne Chukka
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Elf Tim

Founder & Shoe Sherrif

Favorite Shoe: Roo Moccasin
softstar-staff-sarah
Elf Sarah

Chief People Officer

Favorite Shoe: Ballerine
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Elf Martin

Marketing Warlord

Favorite Shoe: Primal RunAmoc
softstar-staff-ali
Elf Ali

Promotions Pioneer

Favorite Shoe: Ballerine
softstar-staff-tesla
Elf Tesla

Lead Customer Elf

Favorite Shoe: Ballerine
softstar-staff-patty
Elf Patty

Purchasing Elf

Favorite Shoe: Fireside
softstar-staff-keita
Elf Keita

Efficiency Elf

Favorite Shoe: Moc3
softstar-staff-hava
Elf Hava

Production Lead Elf

Favorite Shoe: Roo Moccasin
softstar-staff-elizabeth
Elf Elizabeth

Production Lead Elf

Favorite Shoe: Hawthorne Chukka
softstar-staff-jasper
Elf Jasper

Silent Partner

Favorite Shoe: The chewy ones