Elves Remember 2013 - Year in Review
It's been a busy year at the Soft Star workshop. Before we ring in the new year, we'd like to share with you the significant memories and adventures that affected our workshop and community in 2013.
Elves Volunteer at SAGE Garden
Last spring, we had our first Soft Star volunteer day helping out at the local SAGE community garden! The food grown at SAGE is donated to local food banks and soup kitchens, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to families in our community who need them most. Our whole crew spent an afternoon getting dirty weeding, composting and planting a new plot of veggies, and we had a lot of fun in the process.
Maker's Wild Documentary
In April, we were honored to be the subject of a short documentary film that featured American manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest. The film followed a set of Dash RunAmocs as they were made step-by-step in our workshop, and also interviewed our founder Tim and co-owners Tricia and Larkin. The final product was released in May, and it's the first time our shoemaking process has been shown on screen in such detail.
Barefoot Runners Society Runs to the Coast
For the first time this year, Soft Star sponsored a barefoot/minimalist running team in the epic Hood to Coast Relay. Claiming to be the longest relay race in the world, the route covers 199 miles from Oregon's Mt. Hood to the coastal town of Seaside. A team from Barefoot Runner's Society entered the race and we were proud to support them. They sported their Soft Star t-shirts and gear on race day and finished successfully!
New Shoes and Materials
Our design elves are constantly at work developing new styles and finding ways to improve our existing designs. This year, we saw the introduction of our adult ballet flat, the Ballerine, as well as many new materials. We're proud to now offer a cork fabric option for certain shoes as well as a limited edition corduroy leather Merry Jane, highly sustainable vegetable tanned leather and a new turquoise perforated leather for our LITE RunAmocs. Rest assured, we're already planning a few more surprises for 2014.
Biggest Soft Star Shoe
Last August, we shattered or previous record and made our biggest shoe ever! The size 17 Original RunAmoc made every other shoe in our workshop look like a baby moccasin. The previous record was a size 16 from many years ago (so long that only Tim remembers it). Now we have to wonder how long this record will last.
Boston Marathon Tragedy
No, it wasn't all cheery in 2013. The tragedy of the Boston Marathon last spring was a somber experience for us and the nation as a whole. We were very excited to track the results of the historic race, and to follow some of our running friends who were managed to qualify this year. The unexpected bombing turned this exciting event into a memory of heartache and disbelief. Our hearts continue to go out to those who suffered and continue to suffer from the disaster, and we applaud those who push forward and face next year's marathon with courage and perseverance.
Congressman Peter DeFazio Delivers Our UPS Package
Very recently, we had a wonderful surprise in our workshop when Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio showed up in a brown UPS uniform to drop off our daily delivery. DeFazio followed a UPS driver around for a day to visit local businesses and talk about their needs. We were happy to give him a tour of our workshop and a complimentary Soft Star hooded sweatshirt. His visit really made our day.
Michael Sandler Visit
Last April, our old friend and barefoot running guru Michael Sandler paid another visit to our workshop. We first met Michael several years ago when he gave a barefoot running class in nearby Eugene. He then paid us a visit and became a shoe tester, helping us develop our natural leather sole for our RunAmocs. This year, Michael was on tour promoting his new book Barefoot Walking, and took time out of his busy schedule to visit us again. He gave an insightful presentation to the elves about the benefits of barefoot walking and provide more feedback on our shoe designs.
A few weeks later, we were saddened to hear that Michael broke his femur after slipping on a rock in Colorado. Though the injury was very serious and resulted in heavy medical bills, Michael and his wife Jessica are finding meaning in this event and using it as an opportunity to publish a new book about overcoming tragedy.
Collaboration with Luna Sandals
The Lunar Monkeys up in Seattle have been friends of the Soft Star Elves for a long time, ever since we sent soling samples to Barefoot Ted when he worked to develop his huarache sandal design. This year, we grew closer to our Northwest neighbors.
First, we began talking to Luna's Sales Monkey, Tom Norwood, and were thrilled to hear he was running the 2013 Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco (formerly known the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon), the race made famous by the book Born to Run. Tom graciously let us interview him both before and after the race, and we were amazed to hear about his incredible experience.
Later in the year, we began a professional collaboration with Luna when we became official retailers of their wonderful sandals. You can now purchase their awesome running huaraches from our website, and we look forward to a growing relationship with another domestic company that shares our values.
Royal Baby Shoes
When the new Prince of Cambridge was born in July 2013, we thought it would be fun to send the royal family a special pair of baby moccasins to celebrate their new arrival. Elf Keoni was assigned the task to create something memorable and his wicked sewing skills surprised us all. The result was a beautiful pair of smooth leather Roo mocs that featured the flags of both the United States and the United Kingdom, one on each foot. The back of each shoe showed stars and the London skyline, respectively. We weren't the only ones who fell in love with these shoes, as they became our most popular Facebook post ever! We've never received so many comments and compliments on a photo and we're thrilled to hear that you all liked Keoni's handiwork as much as we did.
Our tiny town of Corvallis, Oregon rarely sees an inch of snow each year, but this December a cold spell brought the biggest snowfall in two decades. The deep powder caused many businesses in town to close due to unsafe driving conditions—including our workshop—but also transformed our quaint village into a winter wonderland. Every shop in town (that was still open) sold out of sleds within a few hours, skiers filled our streets and many of us spent our time off strolling through our neighborhoods enjoying the rare sight.
We hope you also had a fun and memorable year, and we wish you the best in 2014!