As December comes to a close, we find ourselves reminiscing about everything that happened this year. Between the exciting summer Olympics, a long election season and bittersweet farewells to some of our favorite celebrities, 2016 is certainly a year to remember. Don't even get me started on my hometown Chicago Cubs winning the world series for the first time in over a century! (condolences to my Cleveland friends)
The year certainly had it's ups and downs, and we're happy to end it with a positive outlook toward 2017. Our workshop is bustling with hardworking shoemakers who inspire us every day. The neighboring music shop often comments about how much laughter they hear coming from our walls, and we take that as a compliment.
Here's a short list we compiled of some of our favorite local moments from the Soft Star workshop that occurred in 2016:
Top 10 Greenest Companies in Oregon
We were very excited when Oregon Business told us we ranked among their list of the 100 Best Green Workplaces, but it wasn't until we showed up at the award ceremony that we learned we made the exclusive cut for the top 10! Soft Star founder Tim Oliver and Production Elf Hava accepted the award, which has proudly been on display at our workshop ever since.
Every year a few special shoes come through our shop. Some are the result of collaborations with other artists, some are limited edition shoes we sell for a short time and some are just fun projects made by our staff. Here's a look at our favorites from 2016:
Clockwise from top left:
- Easter Peep Shoes
- Shamrock RunAmocs
- Hand-Tooled Chukkas
- Christmas Merry Janes
- Prince Shoes, in Memoriam
- 4th of July Freedom Sandals
Katy Bowman's Book Release Party
Okay, this one didn't actually happen in our workshop, but Katy is a dear friend of Soft Star and we were honored to be part of her special event. To celebrate the release of her latest book, Movement Matters, renowned biomechanist Katy Bowman hosted a forage-and-farm-to-table party in Half Moon Bay, California to thank all of her friends and supporters. We were thrilled to receive an invitation and attend, and we wish Katy the best success.
Polytechnic University Study
Opinions about minimalist shoes have risen and fallen over the years, but the subject has always been surrounded by controversy. In lieu of the many Soft Star customers who have relieved their bunions, plantar fasciitis and other foot pain without surgery, we stand firmly in support of barefoot-like footwear that encourages feet to move and develop naturally (though we understand that not everyone will have the same results). Despite skepticism and the emergence of "maximalist" shoes with extra thick cushioning, several new studies were published in 2016 that strongly suggest minimalism is the way to go for healthy feet. Most notably was a research project conducted by PolyU last fall. We hope this will help get the word out and help more people find relief!
New Styles: Merry Jane and Fireside
Our designers are always hard at work on new shoe designs, and it is exciting (and nerve wracking) to officially launch them and wait for the public response. We released two new styles in 2016, and we're happy to say that both have been beyond success. The first, our Child Merry Jane, filled a gap by offering the traditional style in smaller sizes for kids under the age of 5. The second, our fully-lined Adult Fireside Slipper, may have been our most popular Christmas gift this year!
The New Soft Star Workshop... is DONE!
If you've been following our blog then you'll know we have spent almost two years renovating a historic building in Philomath, Oregon to be the new home for Soft Star Shoes. While we love our Corvallis, Oregon workshop, it has just become too small for our growing business. Our moving date has been pushed back a couple times due to construction delays, but it's finally happening! On Monday, January 9, 2017 we'll officially open the doors of our new building where all of our shoes will be made, sold and shipped. The official grand opening celebration will take place at the end of February.
We hope you're ending 2016 on an optimistic note. Thanks to everyone who supported Soft Star and sent us fan photos this year. And if you happen to find yourself in western Oregon in 2017 then think about swinging by for a tour of our workshop. Maybe we'll even let you ride the slide.