VANCOUVERITES: Twelve Minutes With Troy And Nima Of “Rowan Sky” On West Cordova
by Jenny Bachynski | Rowan Sky is one of those Gastown stores that I seldom pass by without going in, even if I’m not in the market for shoes. Located at 334 West Cordova street, the bright, inviting store is filled with the most beautiful, high quality footwear. When I first started corresponding with co-owners Troy and Nima, it was clear that they were not only passionate and hardworking, but some of the nicest guys around. The two of them have a true understanding of shoe construction and what people are looking for, which makes for some amazing customer service. I spent an afternoon with Troy and Nima talking, taking pictures and fantasizing about my eventual purchases. I couldn’t wait to hear their take on the world’s obsession with shoes, and have them tell me more about Rowan Sky’s history and future.
Tell us about yourselves and how Rowan Sky came to be? Nima: My name is Nima “Jones Quaker” Farahmand and I’ve lived in Vancouver since July of ’99. I like to think that I started my life in Canada right at the turn of the millennium and the start of 21st century. I started working in retail for a friend of mine while I was in university and instantly fell in love with it. Initially I use to be mostly into apparel when it came to fashion, but in the last few years I have truly fallen in love with shoes and shoe making. Naturally, after I was done with university I joined forces with my friend and partner in crime, Troy Cruickshank, and created Rowan Sky. Troy: My name is Troy “Montgomery James” Cruickshank Jr. and I definitely have a shoe fetish despite the fact that I spent most days in army surplus boots while growing up. My family was by no means rich, but it was 100% my choice to wear army boots and to this day I still don’t know why. What I can tell you is that the strange obsession with a classic boot led me to a career of footwear and fashion. My family background is one part Danish and another part Canadian bacon. My mother used to run a shelter for single mothers on the east side and my father was in real estate during the market crash in the ’80s. So I can also say I didn’t come into the shoes business naturally, even though it’s where my heart is. Rowan Sky is a trendy fashion forward footwear and accessories boutique that not only pays attention to style and trends, but also quality and value. Our brand collection is a selection of brands from around the world, and we are always looking to change our collection and add new styles and brands to keep it fresh and up-to-date. Most people like to know how the name came to be, which is a bit of a secret, but the important fact is that when you come in the store and meet us you’ll have a hard time thinking of any other name. We like to make sure our customers are well taken care of and educated about our products, and it is our mandate to make sure every customer walks out in the right pair of shoes.
When I am in my store I feel…? When we are in Rowan Sky we are happy. We have a lot of fun with our staff and customers and make sure to keep it that way. But personally, the store to us is a safe place. We are surrounded with shoes and the smell of leather. What can be better than that? It is inspiring to come to work each day, listen to good music, fit customers with great shoes, and work side to side with our lovely staff.
What makes the perfect shoe? Many people don’t realize how much work goes into making a pair of shoes. A lot of attention and manpower is used to transform a design concept into a wearable product. Needless to say the more attention a shoe gets the better it will be. All that aside, what makes a shoe perfect is the person wearing it. For most people (as we like to believe) shoes are a reflection of taste and personality. So the perfect shoe: fits effortlessly, wears amazingly, looks great on, and most importantly it is a reflection of the person.
Owning a small business is never easy. What has been the hardest part, and what inspires you to put in all the work? Obviously the recent economical issues and scares have definitely changed the landscape for all companies. Add online sale sites and other competitors, and having a small business is not as easy as it once was. But we are thankful to have customers that understand the importance of fitting a shoe in person, and supporting their local shoe shop. We think this quote embodies how many small business owners might feel: “When you buy from a small mom or pop business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons…a mom and dad put food on the table. Our customers are our shareholders and they are the ones we strive to make happy.”
Being a Vancouverite, I need to know what is the best rainy day boot? The easy way out when it comes to rain is putting on the Vancouver special (rain boot). But we find that spending a few more dollars and investing in a quality leather boot not only will it keep your foot dry, it will also last you longer and look better for seasons to come. So we recommend that for next season it is best to buy a nice fitting Camper Boot, or an Ash boot. That way you look stylish, don’t break the bank, and stay warm and dry.
Why do you think so many people have an obsessive fascination with shoes? That is a great question that may never find a proper answer. Shoes have definitely become an important part of a wardrobe, but the obsession with shoes is mainly related to the individual. For some, it is a naughty fascination, for others it’s about having something low key that can offer a twist to your daily attire. It’s a rebellious way to express yourself, and simply it’s that special detail that will transform your wardrobe into something spectacular. Also, in this day and age we are obsessed with how we are perceived physically, and when it comes to shoes you don’t need to worry about whether you have gained a few or not. We can tell you that during a fitting at Rowan Sky, we rarely hear the famous question: “Do these make my ass look big?”
What are the future plans and goals for Rowan Sky? The future of RS is going to be awesome. In addition to picking up many new brands for 2012 Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, we are currently working on setting up our online store to join the World Wide Web sales. As well, we have a few new secret projects in the making. Scout Magazine is the first to know that soon you can expect our very own RS collection of meticulous hand-crafted products.
Nice! If you were to go buy an outfit in Vancouver to go with a pair of your shoes, where would you go? Being small local business owners, we like to support local businesses as much as possible. So when we are not thinking shoes or booze, a few stores we love to shop at that would pair well with our products are: Global Atomic Design, fine finds, plus our lovely next-door neighbors The Block, Holly Boutique, One/Two of a Few, Rubi & Kino, Lynn Steven, Dutil Denim and (212).
How does being in Vancouver influence the type of designs you bring in? Are there any distinct Vancouver shoe trends right now? There was a time that trends/fashion took more time to appear in Vancouver, but thanks to globalization we’re always pushing for the next fashion trends and brands. However, there is still that west coast factor and feel to our city, which shapes trends and fashions, and sets it apart from other Canadian cities. The relaxed bohemian feel plays a big role in what makes or breaks it here. Spring/Summer go hand in hand with ballet flats and sandals. For women this season we will see a lot of fun wedges with hints of exciting colors, like red, orange or yellow, as well as colorful sandals and flats. Also, the hidden wedged women sneakers seem to have really picked up momentum in the east and you’ll soon see a lot of people wearing them in Vancouver. For men, however, things are staying a little more classic; English style oxfords and brogues in masculine colours, like oxblood and deep brown are the looks of this season.
If you could pick one person and walk in their shoes for a day, who would it be and why? Nima: If I were to live in any era and be the same age as I am now, I would love to experience the late 50′s and early 60s’. I find everything from that day and age exciting, cinema, art, fashion, and music. Especially music and fashion, three-piece suits, beautiful shoes, pianos, and live music in clubs. To top the experience I would want to be one of the Rat Pack. Smoke, drink, sing and wear some fantastic shoes and clothes while living life to the limit. Troy: David Bowie. I bet he has some pretty rad shoes in his closet and he has probably seen some crazy shit while wearing them.
Thanks guys! For more information visit www.rowansky.com.
Jenny Bachynski was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. In her teenage years she packed up her bags and headed to Vancouver to pursue further education in fashion design. In 2009 she started her own small business Jenny Andrews Recycled Leather Goods, as well as her blog Jenny Loves. After starting her blog, Jenny discovered that one of her greatest joys was stumbling upon beautiful and interesting things, and sharing them with anyone who would listen.