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In His Shoes: Todd Babiak

5-minute read

Who’s walking around in Poppy Barley shoes? Here, we spend 5 minutes with our customers to find out who they are and what they do.


Todd Babiak




Director of Story Engine (and novelist)


Vancouver Chukka in Navy Blue, size 9-ish

In His Shoes: Todd Babiak, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about his life and his experience with Poppy Barley

Describe your typical work day.

I get up early, eat granola and read the paper and drink coffee, and begin working on fiction. Sometimes it’s a novel, sometimes it’s a screenplay, sometimes it’s a non-fiction project. When my daughters wake up I goof off with them. Then I become a businessperson and citizen. Sometimes this involves travel.

What's your creative process like? (How does one write a novel?)

I try to walk whenever I can, without looking at my phone. This is the best way to find and refine ideas — just walking and thinking. Poppy Barley plays a part in this, obviously. Then I just sweat it out in my basement: writing and rewriting, failing more than succeeding. I try not to fall into despair.

Who is the most interesting person that you've interviewed?

I spent a really strange 90 minutes with Matthew McConaughey.

What's the last thing you Googled?

Matthew McConaughey. I didn’t want to spell his name incorrectly.

What publications have you written for?

The Globe and Mail and the Postmedia papers, mostly. Some magazines.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to my novel, “Come Barbarians” will come out in March, 2016. I’m finishing that and working on book three. I’m co-writing a screenplay called “The Great One” and finishing a non-fiction book about the way our company works. It’s called “The Master Story: How Narrative Thinking Powers the Most Successful Brands, People, and Places.” That’s all in my spare time. I’m usually working with our beloved Story Engine clients and projects.

What are you most proud of?

My daughters.

What's been your experience with Poppy Barley so far?

I love the shoes, of course. My Vancouver Chukkas fit beautifully and they look terrific. I get compliments on them all the time. They’re better than me, frankly. I try not to wear them too often, because I don’t want to wear them out. The Poppy Barley people I’ve met are uniformly wonderful and attractive — especially Daelan. I’d love to visit the workshop in Léon.

In His Shoes: Todd Babiak, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about his life and his experience with Poppy Barley

You wear great socks. Why do you care about wearing good socks, and why do you care about wearing even better shoes?

Men don’t have as many options as women, for playfulness. We can’t express our personalities as fully. Socks and shoes are ways to say, “I try. I care. I will die someday so why not delight myself in small ways why I am here?” Also, maybe people will find my foot-coverings attractive if my face and accomplishments don’t do it.

In just a few words, how would you describe your style?

Business imaginative.

You have two daughters (nine and seven). How has becoming a dad changed your style?

I am colourblind and they love being my surrogate eyes. They’re both keenly interested in fashion, and I trust their opinions. Sometimes they dress me up as an idiot just to see what happens.

When you travel to the Rocky Mountains (we shot our Fall 2015 Collection in the Rocky Mountains), what's your favourite place to stay?

The Jasper Park Lodge, by a mile.

What's one thing on your mind that you really want to talk about right now?

I like to travel. When I am in a country that is not this one, it disappoints me when people talk about Canada. We’ve lost something profound and important in recent years, and I think of it now that we are in the middle of an election campaign. Of course, “international reputation” is never an election issue. Now I’m depressed.


If you could turn into any animal for a day, what would you pick? What would you do?

I’d like to be a bonobo for a day. I’d have sex for 24 hours, to see what that’s all about.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Why?

Jedi mind trick. I would do naughty and nice things.

If you were going to lose one sense, what would you be willing to give up? Why?

I had to Google the five senses to remember “taste,” so I guess that one. I would have to use my memory to enjoy food.

If you could walk in anybody's shoes for a day, who would it be?

The Pope. What shoes! And I would say some really amazing things as Pope-for-a-day.

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