How Gail found shoes the right fit

KATHRYN VUKOVLJAK talks to Canberra’s Queen of Shoes, whose shop in Manuka turns 30 this year

Gail Lubbock... “I appreciate style and good workmanship, and I don’t go to China..” Photo by Andrew Finch

Gail Lubbock… “I appreciate style and good workmanship, and I don’t go to China.” Photo by Andrew Finch

GAIL Lubbock has always loved shoes.

“As a little girl I loved shoes, the black patent with the little straps in the winter and white in the summer,” she says.

“Somehow, I always managed to buy a pair of shoes with the first pay packet and was known to save for months for a pair of shoes.

“I suppose you would have to say, I have always loved them.”

Gail says she has her dream job running Escala in Manuka. The luxury shoe shop turns 30 this year, having started in 1985 as LF (for founder Leonie Furber), and was later named Escala by another owner, Rosie Sawyer. Gail took over the shop from Rosie in 1998.

A nurse for 35 years, Gail says she suffered a back injury and began looking for a new direction.

“I thought I’d be in nursing for the rest of my life and it hurt psychologically to know I couldn’t do it any more,” she says.

“When I met Rosie Sawyer and she told me she wanted to sell Escala, I thought, why not?”

Gail says she now travels to Europe twice a year to select styles for the shop and supports factories in Milan, Verona and Florence.

“It can be joyous – I love the interaction, the excitement, the expectation and anticipation,” she says.

“I appreciate style and good workmanship, and I don’t go to China.

“I want to see a continuation of excellence from generational factories that have an exemplary and ethically responsible business model. If we don’t support them they’ll be gone.”

Gail says she believes Escala’s success is down to a tried-and-true formula of presentation, quality merchandise and customer service.

“It took a while to get the mix right, and remember that it’s not all about me and what I like,” she says.

“Choosing the right merchandise is a talent, a gift I think. I’ve been able to utilise that to the business’ advantage, which I’ve been really happy about.”

Gail says she loves the interaction with all the people that make up the business, from suppliers, freight agents and the “wonderful” clients.

“They’re beautifully loyal and have been since its inception; since before it was Escala,” says Gail.

“We focus on selling beautiful things, having a gorgeous store and offering impeccable service, and that stands the test of time.”



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