Over the last 20 years, German expatriate and shoe designer Armin Oehler has discovered a new home in Upstate South Carolina and The Cliffs at Keowee Springs.
When Armin Oehler first arrived in Greenville, South Carolina in 1999 for an internship with an automotive supplier, the German native would never have guessed that he would still be here today. Another surprise? In the 20 years since arriving, Oehler has steered his career far from his original role in the automotive industry.
After many years of balancing a career working in sales for companies such as BMW, Tesla, and Mercedes, Oehler discovered a passion for designing fine men’s shoes. As that passion grew into potential, he decided to put his energy into the shoes. “The hobby and the heart started to take over,” he explains. Within 24 months of deciding to pursue his passion full-time, Oehler’s artisanal shoes and belts are now sold in 64 locations across the country. The company’s roots reach back to Germany, where fine leathers are sourced from the Oehler tannery founded in 1823, but operations are based in the Upstate, a region that gives the company — and his family — plenty of room to grow.
Throughout Oehler’s time in the Upstate, The Cliffs has been a steady and important fixture. He first visited The Cliffs with a colleague during his internship, just as he was completing his engineering degree. He continued to visit as his career and family life evolved, and three years ago became a member at Keowee Springs. The Oehlers — Armin, his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Sophia and Addison — plan to build a home and look forward to being close to the water with a boat and a dock, so that they can enjoy the lifestyle The Cliffs offers. “The beauty of The Cliffs is there’s a calendar with so many options for getting out and socializing,” he says. “From being able to enjoy the clubhouses to kayaking tours and hiking, it is a really nice way of spending time with family and friends. It’s just wonderful.”
As Oehler focuses on his next collection for the spring of 2020, he hopes to grow his business, add more jobs, and give back to the community. He also wants to carve out more time to enjoy the place he’s chosen as his home. “When I first arrived in Greenville, it was totally different than it is now,” he reflects. “Now, people come here from all over the country and the world. It’s a smalltown city with everything you want and need. It’s a safe, family environment and has given us so many friends and experiences over the years.”
It goes without saying that the Oehlers could be anywhere in the world — exploring, traveling, and living — even as they talk about their life, family, and future in the Upstate. But as Oehler recalls an ordinary night with Sara as they sat out on the porch enjoying a glass of wine, he says with contentment, “Now, this is home.”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.