– Story and photography by Lia Crowe
Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
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Originally from Ontario, Kerstin followed a footloose and fancy-free path that brought her to a life in Victoria and a shoe store business now 36 years strong. (This path included hitchhiking with a girlfriend from Edmonton to the island in 1977 “because that’s just what you did in those days.”)
I meet Kerstin in her Fairfield home for decaf lattes, a tour of her beautiful garden sanctuary and a chat about life, style and her favourite pair of shoes (spoiler alert, she couldn’t choose just one).
Rewind to the early 80s where a 20-something Kerstin arrived in Victoria, met her partner and started working with him in his retail store on Johnson Street. Called Renaissance Shop, it had a real “hippy vibe,” selling velour jumpsuits and crystals. It also had a leather workshop in the back. The first shoe brand they carried was Birkenstocks. That soon grew into more shoe brands and the beginning of Footloose shoes in 1983.
With so many years in the shoe business behind her, I wonder, what does she love most about her work? For Kerstin, it’s the buying and the relationships she has developed with customers.
“We have been carrying some brands for a number of years, so we have great relationships with our shoe reps. I think you have to be a people person to be in this business and some of our regular customers are so nice.”
Outside of work, it’s clear that Kerstin is passionate about her garden and all of the wild birds that come to visit, including a couple of crows who have become regulars.
She’s also passionate about health and wellness, and has run five marathons.
“I’ve never been a competitive person who needs to be the best, but I like to challenge myself. The training is daunting at first but then after it’s done you feel so good. I also started biking about five years ago; I have a road bike and I really like it.”
Asked how she would describe her style, she says, “Relaxed!”
She laughs, “I’ve never been a heel girl; when I discovered Birkenstocks I thought they were the coolest thing I had ever seen. To me good style is clean, simple and not overdone.”
Since she is a mother and grandmother, I ask which qualities she hopes she has passed on, and she says, “I feel like I’m a kind person; so [I hope they will be] kind, enjoy every day and take risks.”
FASHION and BEAUTY
Uniform: Lots of denim with a button down shirt or a T-shirt.
All-time favourite piece: “My Levi’s.”
Favourite pair of shoes: “I have a few favourite brands: Vagabond, Homers and, of course, Birkenstocks.”
Favourite Daybag: Currently using an Erin Templeton tote made and designed in Vancouver.
Favourite work tool: A large tote bag by Frye.
Favourite jewellery piece or designer: “Anything in sterling silver, and I love the hammered silver look.”
Fashion Obsession: Cosy fall sweaters.
Accessory you spend the most money on: Watches — currently wearing Daniel Wellington.
Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Annual visit to the Kingfisher Resort with a girlfriend.
Moisturizer: “I use a product made in Switzerland called Phyto 5.”
Scent: Amber scent from Nezza Naturals .
Must-have hair product: “My curling iron.”
STYLE INSPIRATIONS and LIFE
Style Icon: Katharine Hepburn.
Favourite Artist: “I have been admiring pieces by George Littlechild .”
Favourite Musician: “I recently saw Neil Young, so have been listening to a lot of Neil.”
Era of Time that inspires your style: 1920s and 1940s.
Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: The movie Annie Hall and the TV shows Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey.
Favourite local restaurant: “I visit Agrius almost every Friday for breakfast.”
Favourite Cocktail/Wine: “I currently like drinking Ampersand gin with a good tonic water.”
Album on current rotation: Anything Neil Young.
Favourite Flower: Peonies and tulips.
Favourite App: Spotify, and any sleeping apps.
Favourite place in the whole world: “I love Tofino.”
Fav Print Magazine: House and Garden.
Fave Style Blog: “I do not look at too many, but do like Sabina Socol.”
Coffee table Book/photography book: Great Bear Wild by Ian McAllister.
Last great read: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.
Book currently reading: Blue Monday by Nicci French.
You can find Footloose Shoes here.