The Savvy Traveler

If The Shoe Fits


[trip style = sun + urban + adventure]

I recently met some fellow travel connoisseurs whose custom-fit footwear company was inspired on the road. As a lover of shoes and sojourning abroad, I had to share Justine and Kendall's story and show off their ethically made soles {I have a pair (below) and wearing them is like walking on air}. 


While shopping along the boho-chic blocks of Bali's Seminyak stretch, Justine popped into a leather goods store and settled on a pair of boots. Unfortunately, they didn't have her size {normally making the shoe purchase a no-go}. "No problem, I’ll measure you and make you a custom pair!" the cobbler said as he pulled out a measuring tape. A week later, the idea for Poppy Barley came to her while thinking about her experience in the shoe shop: "Why can't women everywhere have the same custom experience?" 

When Justine arrived home from the tropics, she and her sister Kendall {below} set their sights on pairing the traditional business of handcrafted shoemaking with a modern-day online twist. That was 2012. Today, Poppy Barley receives orders online {and at pop-up shops}, a dedicated team of craftspeople hand-make the shoes at a studio in Mexico, and the finished product is shipped to customers all over the world. 


Trip Styler Tip: Custom-fit footwear is the ultimate personalized Christmas gift. Buy a gift card, or sneak someone's measurements and send in the order. If the shoe doesn't fit, they remake them. 


Curious how Poppy Barley continues to pair travel and shoes, we asked co-founder Justine how she settled on Mexico for her company's production, how she extends her work trips for pleasure, and which shoes she doesn't leave home without.


What drew you to Mexico for shoemaking?
We chose León, Mexico for its rich history in manufacturing footwear. For the last 400 years the city’s main industry has been shoemakinggiving us the deep talent pool of artisans we need to build a scalable custom footwear company, and a short 36 kilometre supply chain. Further, because Mexico is relatively close to Canada and the USA, it makes product development trips and shipping easier. Plus, our product falls under NAFTA, so it's duty-free!


How often do you go to Mexico for work?
I go to León three to four times per year. Most of the time, I stay at Nueva Estancia, a simple yet styled hotel with all the fixings close to where I need to be for work. On my last trip I tried AirBnB, which gave me a deluxe apartment for $75 per night {I could have brought the whole Poppy Barley team}. At least once per trip, I make a point of eating out at Argentilla, one of León's poshest eateries drawing the who’s who of the city. León has a lot of Spanish, Italian and Argentinean restaurants due to the immigrants who have come to work in the footwear industry. After my first trip I realized that you have to make a special request for Mexican food, otherwise most people go out for Italian food. {They eat Mexican food at home!}

Leon, Mexico

Leon, Mexico

Do you ever extend your Mexico work trips and tack on a vacation?
Yes, so far I have visited Guanajuato {45 minutes from León} and San Miguel de Allende {2 hours from León}. Both are colonial-era towns that achieved great wealth in the 1850s due to the region’s silver mines, and as such, left an amazing heritage of Baroque architecture. The towns are set in valleys framed by mountains and have narrow and steep cobblestone callejones {alleyways}, shady plazas dotted with monuments and cafes, pastel-hued buildings and techni-colored flowers. Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende were re-discovered and settled in the 1930s and '40s by artists and writers from around the world; now they are home to students, retirees, and creatives. 

Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato, Mexico

What trip styles do you favor?
My ideal vacations combine the Urban and Active/Adventure trip styles. I love to explore, and I get bored quickly on the beach. For my last big trip my husband and I traveled to Turkey, spending time in Istanbul, hiking the Lycian Way, and wandering the underground cities in Goreme. My next trip is a work-play combo heading back to Guanajuato and San Miguel, but this time I am bringing my husband!

Carry-on or checked bag?
Checked. I hate the rush to board the plane to secure room in the overhead containers for my carry-on. 


Which shoes always accompany your travels?
My go-to travel shoes are the Poppy Barley Black Python Classic Point, the Poppy Barley Chelsea Boot {above right} and my running shoes.

[photos via poppy barley]

The Savvy Traveler :: [SEBELL]

[trip style = urban, food + wine, luxe]

[trip style = urban, food + wine, luxe]

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

It’s hard to feel at home when you’re bouncing nomadically between Nashville, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and B.C.’s Interior, but recording artist Sebell is content to call home wherever his suitcase lands. The multi-award winning musician, whose infectious Top 20 hit single Till the Sun Burns Out is playing on radio now, has an EP releasing with Universal Music in the fall. I sat down with him over coffee on a brief stopover in Vancouver to talk travel and bond over our shared affection for Instagram, Scandinavian design and the American South.

1/ Pick your top three trip styles
Trip style = urban, food + wine, luxe
My job tends to keep me in major cities, so for that reason urban is my main trip style. I’m a firm believer in “working vacations” and making even a weekend work trip memorable. That usually means trying out a new restaurant I’ve been following in my Instagram feed or checking out an espresso bar that my serious coffee connoisseur friends are raving about.

I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some pretty luxurious hotels in my travels and that’s something that never gets old. I feel a little like Kevin in Home Alone 2. One time I had a cold and without even a conversation about it, the concierge noticed and sent an assortment of fresh lemon slices and hot teas to my room with a handwritten get-well note. Another time guest services arranged for a hair stylist from a local salon to give me a trim after hours when I couldn’t get a booking in the city and had a televised event the next night. You don’t get that kind of service at a Motel 6.

2/ I can't travel without...
Must-have items
Eye mask {yeah, I’m one of those}, Killspencer Daypack, Aesop Deodorant Spray {a.k.a. the red eye refresher}, Colgate Wisps, D.L. Eyewear Sunglasses, Saturdays NYC trunks {you never know when you’ll find a great pool}, KIND Almond & Coconut Bars and magazines like Inventory, Monocle, GQ, Entrepreneur and Inc.

UBER, Evernote {it’s where I keep all my frequent flier numbers}, Instagram, VSCO Cam, Hotel Tonight, Mini Piano {it looks useless, but it's an essential if you’re a singer or keyboard player on the road} and Full Fitness {great for keeping up a workout routine}

3/ Memorable travel story?
I was in Nashville one summer a few years back, in town playing a couple shows and getting to know the city. A friend randomly invited me to drive down to Florence, Alabama for a special show with The Civil Wars. It ended up being at designer Billy Reid’s flagship store. The band was on the cusp of breaking and Billy had just won GQ’s “Men’s Designer of the Year” Award. We sat in his studio, surrounded by his mood boards and sketches, everyone was drinking wine out of mason jars, the place was flooded in candlelight and we sat cross-legged on the floor listening to Joy and John Paul perform one of the best acoustic shows I’ve ever witnessed. One of my favorite music – and travel – experiences ever.

4/ Favorite spots in...
Pinewood Social: For the fantastic vibe, coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks and bowling. Yes bowling. You could literally hang here all day. 
Patterson House: For a relaxing evening cocktail with friends
Imogene + Willie: For some handmade Nashville raw denim

Los Angeles
Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese: For the best sandwich on a fresh baguette you’ll ever eat
Mohawk General Store: For a great selection of men’s and women’s clothing, housewares and magazines
Baxter Finley Barber & Shop: For a fresh fade and beard trim {and to stock up on Baxter of California products}

Revolver: For fantastic coffee
Old Faithful Shop: For Paine’s Cedar Incense, Hot Cakes Cold-Smoked Chocolate Chips and everything else that is good in life
Ask for Luigi: For weekend brunch {believe the hype}

Pilot Coffee Roasters Tasting Bar: For the “Trust the Barista” special. A little hard to find, but worth it.
Electric Mud BBQ: For a fresh take on BBQ. You’ll feel like you’re eating at a roadside shack in Texasa hip roadside shack.
The Drake General Store: For great wares and fun things you can’t find everywhere else. While you’re at it, check out the Drake Hotel next door and the Drake Underground for great live shows.

5/ You recently did a cross-Canada tour promoting “Till the Sun Burns Out”. What are some of your favorite stops in Canada?
Vancouver, Montreal and the Alberta Rockies. Any chance I get to stay in Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper, I’m in. It’s the Canadian Promiseland as far as I’m concerned.

6/ Destinations on your radar?
Japan for the architecture and the fashion scene
Sweden for the culture, design, fashion and music scene
– Palm Springs because it's always a good idea

More Savvy Travelers
Leighann, Work & Play
Jesse, I'm With The Band
Shaun, Packing Like A Rock Star

{If you know anyone who should be featured in our Savvy Traveler series, drop us a line!}

[photo by @chuckdwillis c/o @sebellmusic]

The Oahu Quick-Change

[trip style = sun + beach]

When Trip Styler Sis and I were in Oahu a few months ago, we went completely gaga over a tropical trend we spotted: Beach-goers changing from their bathing suit to everyday clothes in the sand or beside the road. Forget the changing room or beach bathroom, they had the après-beach change dialed to a stealthy, one-minute affair. We wanted in. I mean, who doesn't want to channel the aloha attitude of Oahu's quick-change artists?

To teach us the art, we met someone who lives this lifestyle every day; chef, artist, free diver, champion spear fisher AND Patagonia Ambassador Kimi Werner. Here's what she told us about the Oahu quick-change and life on the island's North Shore.

1/ What's the background story of the après-beach quick-change? When you're surrounded by water and a warm climate you develop an ocean lifestyle. I think we become less conservative and more laid-back. Since we spend so much time in bikinis or board shorts, we get used to not wearing as much clothing as people from other places, so changing by the roadside becomes less of a big deal. It's practical. Change quickly and go on to your next experience.

2/ Is there an art to changing by the road or at the beach?
String bikinis are the easiest, because you can just throw on clothes, pull the strings to untie the suit and whip them out of your shirt sleeves or shorts. Or you can use a towel. Just wrap yourself up, drop your bottoms, undo your top and replace with dry clothes. And voila!

3/ What are some essential ingredients for the quick-change?
Clothes and a towel.


4/ What do locals do about storing their wallet and keys while they're at the beach?
If you don't have to bring it, don't, though most people stash their essentials out of sight and hide their keys while they're in the water. Otherwise, attach a lockbox to the outside of your car and put your keys in there.

5/ What are your favorite beaches on Oahu?
Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.

6/ Best place to catch the sunset on Oahu?
Sandy's Beach.

PS. Don't miss Kimi's breathtaking {literally} video about her island life, the ecosystem and encountering a great white shark on a research trip.

[photos in order of appearance: 1 - Jeff Johnson, courtesy of Patagonia / 2 + 3 - Jake Marote / 4 - Malia Yoshioka]

*A special thank you to my friend, foodie and all-around nice gal Malia for making this possible.

The Savvy Traveler :: Leighann

[trip style = urban]

This post is written by Trip Styler fashion and lifestyle blogger Heather.

When I buy clothes I lean towards shopping at boutiques, because how often do you become friends with the salesperson at a large retailer? Leighann Boquist is the owner of Vancouver women's clothing shop Oliver & Lilly's, where she counts her customers as her friends. At her shop, you'll find gorgeous clothing, accessories and lifestyle goods sourced from Tofino to Montreal and Los Angeles to London. Leighann and her husband travel to NY and LA twice a year to buy for the store, but as a lover of trip style = urban, she always makes sure to tack on a few extra days to explore and enjoy the cities she's come to know so well after running her shop for five years. I asked Leighann to let us in on her favorite spots and share how she travels, embodying the effortlessly chic ethos of Oliver & Lilly's.

1/ Bi-coastal accommodations
We always try to stay for a little over a week during our LA trips and prefer booking a vacation rental over a hotel to experience the city like a local. We either stay in Santa Monica, Venice or Silver Lake. Finding your own little gem through Airbnb or VRBO isn’t too tough and these neighborhoods are a great starting point. We always try to ensure we're walking distance to good shopping, coffee and a grocer.

In New York we stay at a boutique hotel in Murray Hill called Park South. It's central enough to everything -- buying appointments, subway stations, restaurants, etc. There’s just something so perfectly Manhattan about a historic boutique hotel with a top-hatted doorman and a lobby lounge filled with jazz music.

2/ Go-to spots for food & fun
Cora’s in Santa Monica is our brunch spot. Great pancakes and a short walk to Venice Beach. Our favorite way to lunch is at local food trucks like Kogi BBQ. There are usually a few trucks parked along Abbot Kinney in Venice. During our last trip, a good friend introduced us to a cool restaurant in the Arts District called Church & State as well as this awesome little coffee joint a few doors down called The Daily Dose. For dinner, Little Dom’s (Los Feliz) or Cliff’s Edge (Silver Lake) -- they have the best fries and the space is breathtaking. We try to hit up some concerts when we’re in town. Before we leave, we check to see if our favorite bands are playing or we scout out the marquees at venues in Silver Lake. Our cottage in Santa Monica is close to the Aero Theatre, so we always take in a film or two while there. You can often catch special screenings with director’s Q&A. And wherever we go, we search for bookstores; our latest find is The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA.

In the mornings, we get a coffee and oatmeal or a bagel on the street from a local deli. For lunch, Le Moulin à Café on the Upper East Side is lovely and for dinner we totally crave Café Habana in Nolita -- the Cuban corn on the cob is drop dead delicious. My favorite thing to do in NY is visit the art galleries -- large and small. Grab a coffee and browse around the neighborhoods, shop at local haunts, stroll through Barneys and walk up Fifth Avenue to check out the department store windows. Two must-stops are ABC Carpet & Home and The Strand Bookstore.

Trip Styler Tip: Leighann's husband lines up with the locals at a little neighborhood grocery store called 21 Crosby Deli (corner of Crosby & Grand). They serve a mean -- and budget-friendly -- Reuben and he usually gets a "bonus" BLT to go. When in SoHo...

3/ Perfect travel wear
Well, I pretty much have a uniform and am function over form -- not much changes when I travel. On the plane I’m usually in skinny jeans, a cashmere sweater and flats or sneakers. In my suitcase you’ll find the same pieces with a few additions: coat, scarf, blazer, leather pants, boots and yoga gear. I use my Clare Vivier La Tropezienne bag as a carry on with a Heidi Merrick clutch inside that stores all my grab-and-go items: wallet, chapstick, iPod, hand towelettes and notepad.

Trip Styler Tip: Leighann always travels with Herban Essentials Towelettes. These individually wrapped, made in California, essential oil towelettes come in great scents like lemon, lavender and peppermint. Find them in her store or check here for a retailer near you. {$20 for 22 towelettes}

5/ Destination on your radar
We’re pipe-dreaming Paris right now for Fall '14, so stay tuned.

More Savvy Travelers
Carolyn, Pro Wanderer
Jesse, I'm With The Band
Jackie, Paris Is Always A Good Idea
Lori, A License To Move

{If you know anyone who should be featured in our Savvy Traveler series, drop us a line!}

[photos by @heatherlovesit]

The Savvy Traveler :: Carolyn

[trip style = urban]

Carolyn's wayfaring gives frequent fliers a run for their mileage. As a high-flying small biz coach and wife of a pro tennis player, she travels for a trio of reasons: first, to hang with her husband as his 'doubles partner'; second, to see clients and facilitate retreats; and third, for the thrill. A lover of traveling like a local and spontaneous iPad-driven dance parties, I'm itching to officially introduce this month's Savvy Traveler!

1/ Pick your top trip style
[trip style = urban] Wandering in the shadows of skyscrapers is my travel norm because my husband and I are constantly working remotely from major urban centers dotting the world map.

2/ Favorite hotel{s}
For me, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts win a grand slam for luxe lodging around the world. The Four Seasons in Costa Rica's Papagayo Peninsula is my muse offering hiking, beach, whales, snorkeling {all in one day!}. On the opposite side of the court, to experience a place in its prime, I prefer staying in rental apartments so I can live like a local---shopping at markets, eating at the neighborhood bistros and savoring a new hood!

3/ I can't travel without...
- My husband, he's the SAVVIEST traveler I know and the go-to guy for other tennis professionals on the tours---he knows more than most travel agents.
- Unlocked cell phone, so I can swap local sim cards in and out depending on my coordinates du jour.
- iPad; I use it to catch up on the news at home, create photo albums of our trips, and access my music to create spontaneous dance parties wherever we go.
- Sunglasses, they create insta-shade, hide tired eyes and act as a virtual Do Not Disturb sign if I need to nod off inflight.
- A pashmina is a MUST. I use it as a blanket, pillow and head cover to block out the light when annoying people leave the blinds open on overnight flights!

4/ Carry-on or checked bag
Carry-on for my business travel and checked bag when roaming with my husband. I act as his gear “mule” and often bring an empty bag just to carry his extra stuff like clothes, shoes and racquets.

5/ Aisle or window
Aisle. Always. I need the freedom to get up and move around without asking permission.

6/ Favorite quote
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” -Anatole France

More Savvy Travelers
Jesse, I'm With The Band
Jackie, Paris Is Always A Good Idea
Lori, A License To Move

{If you know anyone who should be featured in our once-monthly The Savvy Traveler series, drop us a line!}

[photo via Carolyn]