She has a shoe-aholic’s dream job. Louise Dirks gets to travel for work, and her regular stops include Milan, Paris and New York where she susses out the latest in footwear for her customers.
Though the Edmonton-based owner of Gravity Pope started one of the coolest shoe boutiques in Canada 25 years ago, Louise Dirks is still amazed by the rock-star reaction she gets when people discover who she is.
“They get excited when they find out I own Gravity,” Dirks says. “And I’m always so surprised people know about Gravity Pope.”
Since she opened the first shoe boutique in Edmonton in 1990, complete with a coffee bar at the back, Dirks has cultivated Gravity Pope’s cult-like status. The stores, some of which also sell clothing, can be found in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton. She hopes to eventually open one in Montreal and is searching for bigger digs for the Calgary store.
The breathtaking choice of brands and styles—mostly from Europe—is what keeps customers returning. Popular brands include Moma (one of Dirks’ favourites for the craftsmanship), Camper, Repetto and John Fluevog, plus the company’s own line of Gravity Pope shoes. So how many pairs of shoes does Dirks herself own?
“Well, tens of thousands,” she says. “If you count all the stores.”
Truthfully, she hasn’t counted lately, but her estimate is, “A lot less than most people think—about 60.”
Time spent on the road
Around 140 days of the year.
Must-have item in your suitcase
A good pair of boots, my favourite two or three dresses and a lint brush.
Must-have items on the plane
Hand cream, Rosebud Salve lip balm and Bose headphones.
Roll with the punches and always remember: the glass is half full.
Bring important documents in your carry-on. Wear layers to adjust to the extreme fluctuation of temperatures on planes.
Favourite place to travel in Canada
For work, Vancouver, because it is like my home away from home. I stay with friends when I am there and half of my head office is located in Vancouver. For pleasure, Interior B.C. wine country, because it feels like I am somewhere far away, yet so close to home.