A Look Back on a Bright 2017 at Softstar
As the winter solstice passes us by and the brightness hangs on a bit more each day, it's the perfect time to look back on the bright spots of the year behind us. Join us in this retrospective of 2017. Phew—what a year it has been!
Out with the Old, in with the New
The past year was definitely full of newness for Softstar. We enjoyed our first full year in our new workshop, settled into the flow of a new community here in Philomath, built some new relationships, and freshened up our brand with a new logo.
Having the new workshop has been a game-changer for us. It has allowed us to grow and plan new possibilities for Softstar’s future. It’s also a work in progress, as projects continued throughout the year, including finishing up the exterior siding and adding a permeable parking lot this winter.
We also launched some new shoes we’re really excited about. We added the Sparky kids slippers to our line of cozy indoor shoes and, after a lot of design work and testing, released our much-anticipated Primal RunAmocs out into the wild. We’ve been thrilled to hear the positive feedback so many of you have passed along about the Primal shoes, which have the widest toe box of all our designs.
We partnered with some great organizations this year, both in our neighborhood and around the world. During 2017, Softstar gave away more than $8,500 in cash and donations to community organizations. This includes 100 percent of our Playful Pancake cat toy sales, which enabled us to purchase 13 milking goats for the Kids for Kids organization that helps families in Darfur.
Locally, our staff took part of a day off to volunteer with a community project helping transport carousel animals to their new home at Albany’s recently restored Historic Carousel and Museum. We also partnered with the Marys River Quilt Guild to honor the art and craft of quilt-making by offering up our workshop as one of the community locations displaying a diverse array of quilts.
Awards and Honors
We’re humbled to have received some wonderful honors in 2017. Oregon Business named Softstar one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon. Co-owners Tricia and Larkin attended the Oregon Business awards ceremony in the spring.
Our team is committed to operating as sustainably as possible and we’re always trying to improve in this realm, so we were especially excited to be named once again among the Best Green Workplaces in Oregon, coming in at No. 13 out of 100.
In other big news, we applied for and were awarded a business development grant from Business Oregon's Strategic Reserve Fund. This grant money will help us revamp our website, keeping pace with our industry and providing the best online experience for our customers. In the long run, this investment will help us grow, and we will be able to provide more good jobs here in our community.
Finally, our co-owner Tricia was honored to be invited to go to Japan with other innovative business leaders as part of Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s trade mission.
Not to Be Overshadowed
Not all of our highlights as a team related to business, of course. Three of our team members got married this year and two team members welcomed babies into the world.
Plus, who could forget the total solar eclipse?! This historic event in August was certainly a highlight of the summer. I think I speak for all of us when I say those moments when day to turned to twilight and then to darkness, and only the sun’s aurora shone bright, will forever be among our most special memories. The event spurred some fun community spirit, too. We participated in a weekend of special events in our community, gave away eclipse glasses to visitors, made eclipse t-shirts, and even created some special-edition eclipse moccasins that were a hit with our fans.
All in all, 2017 was a wild ride, and we can’t thank you enough for your support. While we believe healthy, handmade shoes are a great foundation for living active, adventurous lives, it’s always front-of-mind that you—our wonderful customers—are the foundation of our company. We wouldn’t be here without you! Happy New Year to all of you. Please drop us a line in the comments section to let us know about your highlights from 2017.