Feet on the ground
TEXT: LISA MARIA BERG | PHOTOS © FREDRIKSENS FABRIKK
In a tiny factory in Nissedal (directly translated as meaning Santa Valley − yes, sometimes Norway is just like in the fairy tales) sits two men and a part-time receptionist, each making sheep wool into insoles. Averaging at about 70,000 pairs per year, they are keeping a lot of feet very happy.
“Something happened during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994. We went there with a car full of insoles, but within days, it was empty.” Øystein Fredriksen takes us back to the beginning of the ‘90s and the start of his (tiny, he stresses again) insole factory adventure. Back then, they sold leathers out of the back of a car. Now, they retail to stores all over Scandinavia. What is it about his woollen soles?
Scandinavians like their wool, and not without reason. “The wool has some natural qualities which makes it unique. Because it absorbs moisture it keeps you warm even though you get wet,” Fredriksen explains. For thousands of years, it has kept winter somewhat at bay for the Scandinavians. You find the insole everywhere. Whether you are a runner, a trekker, want to protect your feet at work or just want your favourite shoes to feel even better − a little bit of insole can get you there.
Shoes and insole productions have, for the most part, been outsourced to countries outside of Norway. Fredriksen has kept his wool, however, in Nissedalen. “Retailers appreciate that there is a short link from us to the product. People know what they are getting. We make a purely organic insole. It works just as well on a winter trek as in a summer shoe, keeping your feet comfortable and dry.” Øystein Fredriksen is only halfway through the year − so 35,000 insoles still to go then!