Softstar is ever grateful to the wonderful community which has allowed it to thrive and grow over the past three decades. It is committed to repaying this kindness however possible. Learn more.
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.
Walking lightly on the earth is not just about our shoes! (yes, pun intended) For Softstar, critically evaluating the upstream impact of the raw materials that go into our shoes (both environmentally and socially) is the most important way we can make meaningful improvements to our world.
Softstar has always striven to make our operations as sustainable as possible, locally sourcing our materials, conserving energy in our workshop, and reducing and reusing whenever possible. You see evidence of this in our minimal shipping techniques, but it can also be seen internally in our green energy purchases, material sourcing, and recycling programs. Another is through financial support of the Earth Island Institute and participation in the local Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. Below are some examples of our commitment to walking lightly:
At Softstar we use only leathers which meet high safety standards both for our customers, and for the environment. As our little ones like to occasionally chew on their shoes, it is important to us they are as chemical-free as possible. Many shoes today (99.9%) are imported from countries using formaldehyde tanning methods. Not only is this chemical a potential irritant to your skin and absorbable transdermally, but it poisons ground water downstream from tanneries, and causes well-documented health issues with tannery employees. Almost all or our leather is sourced from USAtanneries to ensure that strict regulations are adhered to. When the leather is not available from USA tanneries, it is sometimes sourced from approved tanneries in Italy, Brazil, South Korea or Germany which meet labor and environmental standards set by our supplier. We are proud to also offer Ecopell vegetable tanned leather from Germany, which we import due to their extremely high standards for quality and sustainable practices, arguably the best in the world.
Other popular children's shoe brands will tout their "eco-leather" meets the British and European Safety Standard BS 5665. In fact - the aforementioned safety standard is really about safe construction of toys-- and has nothing to do with leather processing at all.
The carbon footprint of most shoes is staggering compared to the foot they cradle. Often materials are sourced in one country, staged in another, constructed in a third and packed in yet another before being bulk crated and shipped to their country of destination. On average, imported shoes and their associated components have been transported over 11,000 miles before they even reach their port of call. Softstar is one of (literally) a handful of shoe manufacturers preserving the tradition of handcrafted shoe making skills in the USA using local materials and providing good jobs for our local community.
Resale and Reuse
It makes us sad to see good shoes go to waste, especially if they still have a lot of miles in them. That's why we introduced our Softstar resale page. This page uses an Ebay tool to create a community where customers can buy and sell their used shoes to each other. By reusing shoes as much as possible, we reduce waste!
We actively stay on top of opportunities for improvements in our production processes and raw materials. In our workshop we use no dangerous chemicals or dyes in our manufacturing processes.
We use minimal packaging to ship our products...just enough to keep them looking great. When possible, we ship our shoes using recycled/recyclable poly mailers. Our more structured shoes are shipped in recyclable boxes, wrapped with tissue paper made from 100% recycled materials and packed with paper we reuse from other local businesses.
Production scraps are sorted and reused or recycled. Leather scrap is saved and donated to businesses, individuals and schools for art and crafts projects. We have also distributed it free to our local community and sell it on our website for free other than the cost of shipping.
Misprints are saved and then printed on the reverse side whenever possible. Spent printer cartridges are recycled. Our receipts and product inserts are all printed on recycled paper.
All recyclable items are recycled on a regular basis (paper, glass, plastic, cardboard, metals, pop cans) decreasing our garbage load and supporting recycling efforts. We purchase and use non-toxic cleaning products, and all equipment is turned off at night to save energy.
Repurposed from a 1950's roller rink as an environmentally sustainable building, our workshop has won the prestigious regional DeMuro award for historic preservation. Our workshop restoration is an integral part of Softstar's ranking as one of the top greenest companies by Oregon Business. Here are a few ways our work environment helps contribute to a healthier world:
"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!"