A fabric bin full of Oolie Shoosh door silencer and safety bumpers, with a variety of cord colors.

Oolie’s Collaboration with Portland Garment Factory

In The Shoosh Origin Story, we promised you an inside look at our collaborative process, working with Portland Garment Factory to design and produce the Shoosh, our dual-purpose door bumper and latch-silencer.

After I’d gone through many different design iterations for the Shoosh, I needed help turning this invention into a real product. I reached out to Portland Garment Factory, an amazing woman-owned local business and B Corp.

From Prototype to Product

I showed up to our first meeting with a concept, an aesthetic, and a function in mind. I also showed up with — no joke — a clay model of what I imagined this product could look like. I knew what the Shoosh needed to do; I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how it would all come together.

Enter Laura, designer extraordinaire, who took all of that input, and started exploring possibilities for construction. Over the next few months, we tested and refined several approaches, and ultimately landed on the Shoosh you’re seeing here.

A single Oolie Shoosh door silencer and safety bumper, with a gold cord, on a white background.

This deceptively simple object encapsulates a lot of clever engineering, the core of which is constructed from minimally processed, industrial-strength wool felt from happy sheep. Laura, PGF’s product developer, designed the core pattern, to which the wool is cut, and then ingeniously rolled around and through itself to form the safety bumper.

A production worker at Portland Garment Factory, assembling Oolie Shoosh door silencer and safety bumpers on a flat work surface.

From Product to Production

So Laura helped design the final form factor of the Shoosh, but lots of other folks at PGF helped actually produce the things, in quantity. Throughout, we learned the value of collaborative partnerships, working through issues together — large and small — to go from an idea, to an initial prototype, to a final design, to a final process for actually creating and assembling these products.

Three freshly assembled Oolie Shoosh door silencer and safety bumpers, being held together with safety clips at Portland Garment Factory.

A cardboard box full of Oolie Shoosh wool felt door silencer and safety bumpers, with light blue cords attached.

A Shared (Growth) Mindset

PGF has been an outstanding partner. We love that they share our value of a growth mindset.

Wait, growth mindset? What does that have to do with designing products in a capitalist system?!

When we first started Oolie, we wanted to create a business that would embody our values. In addition to our strong beliefs about environmental stewardship, social responsibility and fair business practices, we also wanted to create a business with a growth mindset culture.

Growth mindset is the internalized belief that we are ever-changing beings, and we always have the capacity to grow, to learn, and to improve. A growth mindset embraces the quirks and challenges of the creative process that, to us, makes life amazing, inspiring, and meaningful.

People who adopt a growth mindset recognize that people aren’t static. With a growth mindset, you are never “stuck”; there is always a more expansive version of yourself accessible just around the corner.

So how does growth mindset work at Oolie? How can a business embody growth mindset?

Short answer: It’s a process.

Longer answer: We love “getting it right” and we recognize that we’ll never get it right on the first try. “Getting it right” is something that happens over time, through trying new things, learning new skills, and lots of editing.

If we try something and it falls flat, we don’t interpret that as a failure — we see it as very helpful information that we can learn from. In some circles, it’s popular to say “fail fast, fail often,” but to us, adopting a growth mindset there actually is no failure — only opportunities for learning and growth.

Kids are growing, we’re growing. We strive to treat ourselves gently and shed the habits of perfectionism and egotism learned earlier in our careers.

We have high standards for ourselves and for the company. That said, we also expect (and welcome) not knowing all the answers while learning and growing as we go. It’s kind of a big experiment, but it’s how we want to live. Here’s hoping it works out! (And if it doesn’t “work out,” then we’ll learn from it and try again!)

—Nora Murray

Photo credits: Portland Garment Factory, Oolie

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