Being from Edmonton, some people may assume that we would hold a grudge with our southern neighbours, but nothing could be further from the truth! Since our earliest beginnings, Poppy Barley has found a second home in Calgary. It was the site of our first ever out-of-town popup shop, and the place many of our friends and customers call home.
A short three-hour drive from home means that we find ourselves making the treck to cow-town more than a few times a year. Known for its amazing culinary scene and variety of shops and venues, it can be overwhelming when trying to narrow down the must-stop spots if you’re short on time and keen on experiencing the best that the city has to offer. To help us slim the herd, we reached out to Calgary-based entrepreneurs and real-life husband-and-wife duo Mandy Balak and James Boettcher.
Meet Our Guides
Mandy Balak is the Founder and CEO of The Ace Class, a Canadian media and events company rooted in its intention of changing the way women connect with other women. ACE is an acronym for activate, cultivate, and empower. These principles guide the movement in its mission of activating meaningful conversation, creating community and connection, and encouraging women to empower one another to lead their best lives. Since its launch, Balak has expanded The Ace Class to six major Canadian cities – Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Toronto.
Balak’s work-life philosophy is founded on the trifecta of working hard, empowering women along the way and providing meaningful and interactive experiences. When she’s not activating events and strategizing, Balak enjoys sweating it out in a spin studio, indulging in a glass of bourbon and traveling the globe.
In 2009, James acquired Fiasco Gelato in the midst of a recession with only $1800 in his pocket. James’ disruptive vision for doing business differently, honesty in craft, & creative innovation of the Consumer packaged goods space, has transformed this once humble outfit into one of Canada’s most beloved frozen dessert purveyors.
Being a serial entrepreneur, his work ethic was forged shovelling walks to help pay the rent at the age of 8, then bagging groceries on his 14th birthday for $5/hr. After a few other endeavours, James landed on his feet with Fiasco, and drew on his prior knowledge of building brands like Kicking Horse Coffee, to help draw the blueprint.
James is a man of passion & enthusiasm. Bringing his dream of a “not-only-for-profit” business that not only sells great products but helps make the world a better place is now a reality.
“Our favourite place to eat in Calgary is Charbar – nothing beats the rooftop patio in the summer with beautiful views of the city and the Bow River. James and I met in East Village on a photo shoot for the Calgary Opera four years ago so we love to stroll Riverswalk after dinner and relive the magic while watching the trains go by.”
“For cocktails, we are regulars at Cannibale – you can find us at happy hour sipping on Old Fashioned’s and if you ask the bartender, you can borrow our deck of cards we keep behind the bar.”
“Our favourite thing to see in Calgary is the Calgary Folk Fest in July – we get to run into all of our friends and enjoy the laid-back vibes of summer!”