Thanks to Footwear News for publishing an article about our workshop's planned move to Philomath, Oregon!
Here's the article:
By Barbara Schneider-Levy / November 3, 2015
Softstar Shoes was never interested in being the next footwear conglomerate. In fact, since its launch in 1985, the company has continued to produce shoes handmade by a group of artisans in a workshop in Corvallis, Ore.
Despite remaining under the radar by selling exclusively on its website, Softstarshoes.com, and a companion store at its headquarters, growing sales have forced the company to break ground on a new 12,000-sq.-ft. facility in nearby Philomath, Ore., where it plans to relocate in fall ’16.
The company, founded by Tim Oliver, originally produced soft-soled infant and children’s shoes. It wasn’t until 2005, when the company was purchased by friends Tricia Salcido and Larkin Holavarri, former employees of Hewlett-Packard with backgrounds in engineering and business, that adult moccasins were added to the mix.
According to Salcido, she and Holavarri, who were ready to start their families, were on the hunt for jobs that offered a more flexible work schedule. They noticed that Softstar Shoes was for sale and were attracted by its unique products and loyal customer base. The pair immersed themselves in the shoemaking business by reaching out to industry insiders as well as learning from Oliver, who continues to work at the company.
The addition of adult styles was followed in 2010 by the launch of a minimal running style — the Original RunAmoc, which is still in the line. The move was sparked by the popularity of the barefoot-running movement, said Salcido, and the 2009 bestsellerBorn to Run. “It’s not easy to design a barefoot-inspired shoe,” said Salcido. “It must be light, flexible and fit the foot like a glove, but still be durable, safe and attractive.”
This fall, Salacido and Holavarri have once again expanded the product offering with the addition of the Hawthorne chukka boot, Softstar’s first style featuring a sole that can be replaced. “It [appeals] to the eco-conscious customer,” said Salcido, of the ability to prolong the life of the shoe.
Since the company’s move into the adult market, it has posted double-digit growth annually, with 15 percent of sales from international customers. According to Salcido, about half of Softstar’s business is in the adult category, from barefoot-inspired athletic to casual looks, retailing from $80 to $225, with children’s styles from $30 to $100.
In addition to selecting from looks offered on its web site, customers can also design their own shoes from a range of colors and materials.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I have purchased over 8 pair of 'minimalist' shoes in the past 3 years...none of them felt like walking barefoot to me......until now. Your leather is soft your soles are flat and my foot is relaxed!!!"
"My entire experience with Softstar has been nothing short of an amazing experience from beginning to end. Will not buy any other shoes...my feet no longer hurt at all."
"This shoe is exactly what you would hope it to be. High quality leather and workmanship in a simple, natural stance running shoes made of all natural materials. Glad I found them."
"I've never had shoes that have fit as well as these or received as many compliments… I wish I had found them sooner!"
"There are no other shoes like Softstar - strong, comfortable, pretty - the best choice of minimal shoes one can get. Thank you for making our lives easier and wonderful!"