(Matt Hughes | Photos Courtesy of Tread & Butter)
As active Central Oregonians, we spend a lot of time in our outdoor footwear. Determining the type of shoe and insole you need starts with the shape of your arch, what type of activity you’re doing and how many hours of the day you’re wearing the shoe. Owner and Operator of Tread & Butter, Matt Hughes introduced his cork insoles to the open market in 2017 and hopes to educate consumers on why his product is the best thing you can slip your foot on to.
Hughes and his wife were attracted to the sun and snow of Bend and moved here ten years ago. “In late 2017 I was ‘wandering in the wilderness’, trying to figure out what my next career move would be. My background is in outdoor footwear so I focused on finding an underserved market segment where we could build a modern brand for the modern consumer. After extensive market research, not to mention soul searching, I landed on insoles and haven’t looked back,” says Hughes.
Tread & Butter’s insoles have a three major features:
- The insole itself helps to keep arches elevated which prevents painful side effects from foot maladies like plantar fasciitis, hammer toe and past foot injuries.
- Tread & Butter insoles feature XSTATIC silver ion technology which are subtle dotted pinstripes that disperse tiny silver ions across the top sheet of the insole. Silver kills bacteria and in turn eliminates odors.
- PORON Vive, a trademarked cushioning, is the perfect combination of shock absorption and energy rebound. The plush feel of the insole makes feet very comfortable.
When Tread & Butter was in the development stages, it was important to Hughes that his products were from reliable and sustainable sources. The insoles are made from cork sourced from the Montado (Cork Forest) in Portugal, which is one of the richest ecosystems in the world and concentrates 34 percent of the world’s area of cork oak forests.
“[The montado] is sacred ground in Portugal and the lifeblood of the country’s economy. You must serve as an apprentice for many years before you are allowed to harvest the cork bark from the trees. The old guard keeps a close eye on the process to ensure everything is done properly. It’s special to watch how they care for the land and the cork. And nothing is wasted. I visited the factory of the company that produces our cork and it was powered entirely by biomass (cork dust), says Hughes.
Furthermore, harvesting cork typically prolongs the tree it comes from and can live up to 200 years. The more cork that’s harvested and consumed — the healthier the cork forests remain. Tread & Butter uses natural cork whereas other brands typically use petroleum-based plastics for their footwear insoles.
Keeping it Local
While Tread & Butter products are currently available online only, Hughes plans to have products available in some pop-up retail spots this year. Hughes believes that the best local businesses find their niche and service it relentlessly for the long haul. In Central Oregon and beyond, businesses need to be customer driven, take care of their employees and go beyond what their competitors are doing.
This year, Hughes has a lot of plans including getting involved with a local nonprofits that share the company’s values and beliefs. As far as the business itself goes, “Looking ahead in 2019, our goals include profitability, developing strategic marketing partnerships and pop-up retail. If any of this grabs your attention, please drop us a line. We would love to chat,” says Hughes.