Charity Magazine

Making Aprons Helps Softstar Stay Safe

By Softstar @Soft_Star_Shoes
Making Aprons Helps Softstar Stay Safe

Nearly three months have passed since we began dealing with life under COVID-19. We continued to make and ship shoes from our Oregon workshop during this time, but with many challenges. The Softstar elves thank all of you for your ongoing support and for your patience with our limited resources over the past few weeks.

We are happy to say that our workshop is once again operating at (almost) full capacity. Many changes were made to comply with state regulations and to ensure the safety of our staff. Our shoemakers are now adapting to new routines and distancing rules. For example, our production floor has been completely rearranged to provide at least 10 feet of space between workstations, which are now each surrounded by plastic barriers (we think we've heard all the bubble-boy jokes by now). This is a big change from the side-by-side setup we previously used to save space and to allow our staff to easily interact with one another.

Thankfully, our wonderful employees have not only been very supportive of the changes, but also eager to contribute new ideas to help everyone feel safe.

Tedious Tools

One challenge we faced is the frequency of disinfecting shared tools. Many of our tools are stored at particular workstations, such as a pair of shears designed for cutting a certain material or the mallets and awls used on our cutting blocks. Traditionally, these tools stayed at their stations and were used by multiple people, which means they now needed to be sanitized after every use. This created a tedious disinfecting routine as many folks found themselves scrubbing down the same tools literally dozens of times each day. While necessary, this process was frustrating to our staff, depleted our supplies of disinfectant and significantly slowed down our shoemaking times.

We realized we could resolve this problem if our staff could each simply carry their own tools around with them. If tools are not shared or touched by multiple people then we could maintain a clean, contaminant-free workspace without the need to constantly disinfect every few minutes. Of course, that created a new problem because it was not practical for everyone to lug around a pile of tools everywhere they go.

The solution turned out to be right in front of us

Aprons to the Rescue!

Our shoemakers normally wear aprons to keep their clothes clean of oil and debris while they work. And aprons come with small pockets that our staff already used to keep their favorite pens or a tiny pair of scissors on hand at all times. We realized we could use aprons to carry all the tools we needed, but that required some special modifications. Fortunately, we have a building full of very creative seamsters and designers who were up to the challenge.

Earlier this week, our staff set aside an afternoon to show off their apron-making skills. Since everyone uses different tools, everyone had different needs for their own aprons. Some needed to carry large sharp leather-cutting shears, and that meant the aprons had to be equipped with protective leather sheaths. Others needed extra-large pockets with the capacity to hold a variety of tools. And everybody needed to add their own touch of personal style... because why not?

You can see the results of our apron party below. Click on an image for a closer look. We hope you appreciate their work!

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