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A Day in the Life: Product Designer, Kalie

5-minute read

Product Design Lead, Kalie, walks us through how she brings your favourite Poppy Barley styles to life and how her teenage dreams of becoming a designer became a reality.


How did you first discover your love for fashion and design?

It really just came naturally! My mom is an art teacher, so I was always drawing and painting growing up. It eventually turned into me drawing outfits I wanted to wear.

I started repurposing things from thrift stores and learned how to sew my own clothes.

One day I realized, “oh, this could be my career!”


Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

I went to Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). My first degree was in cultural anthropology, and then I pursued a Bachelor of Fashion Design.


Tell us about your career path and how you landed at Poppy Barley!

I worked as a junior technical designer and then a junior product developer in Toronto for two years, working in womenswear.

I got a contract as a costume designer with Alberta Ballet, which is partly why I moved back home to Edmonton. I was also just ready to change my life again.

Then I worked as a footwear and clothing buyer for another local company. So, I attended fashion weeks and did all the buying for their major product categories.

But, I really wanted to get back to designing products because that was what I had set out to do career-wise. So, I cold-called Poppy Barley co-founders Justine and Kendall.

A month or so later, I joined Poppy Barley’s product team.


What does a typical week look like for you?

It really depends on where we are in the product development and production cycle.

If we’re preparing for an upcoming season, I do a lot of trend and competitive analysis, review previous seasons, and work with the buying team to decide what product categories to expand on.

Then there’s the actual designing! I like to do the bulk of my design work and sketching from home because it’s quiet.

Then, I present the collection and work with the team to make the tech packs (documents containing the technical specifications of products) for the factories.

Once we receive samples from the factories, we review them and send feedback.

I also do a lot of fit testing! I spend a lot of the time walking around Edmonton’s beautiful river valley—enjoying some nature but also making sure our samples stand up to our quality and fit standards.

Once we’re satisfied, we choose the final leathers, colours, and hardware, and then we place the production orders.

Next up is communicating with the rest of the Poppy Barley team! We present the upcoming collection to the marketing team, create training videos for the store teams and assortment overviews for other various teams.

I also style our photoshoots to make sure the products are positioned in the way they were intended in the initial design process.

Sound like a dream job? We’re hiring a Designer/Product Developer. Apply Now.


What is your favourite product category to design?

Sandals! They're super fun. We don't have much of a sandal season, which is maybe part of the novelty of it.

I’d also say flats because there is so much you can do within that category.


Is there a product you’re most proud of?

The Lug Mule! It was really challenging to add chunky soles to our collection. We had to find a new factory, which took many years. So it felt like a huge accomplishment!


You often travel internationally for work—to visit factories, source leather, assess samples, and more! Tell us about it.

I love learning about other cultures and different places—the political landscape, the food, and the customs. I especially enjoy visiting grocery stores in new countries because it gives you an idea of what life is like. You always find neat packaging, cool sauces, and other unique items.

I also love meeting with our factory teams and building those personal relationships. It’s wonderful to get to know them, and having these connections is really important for the work that we do.

One of my favourite places to visit for work is Alicante, Spain! It has a nice pace of life, a cute little historical village, and the ocean is within walking distance.


What is the most rewarding thing about working at Poppy Barley?

Seeing products that I've designed on the streets!


What is your favourite thing about your job?

I'm living my dream, which sounds really cheesy, but this is what teenage me wanted to do and I'm doing it. I don't feel like very many people can say that.

The work-life balance is also really great, which isn’t always the case in the fashion industry. It’s nice being able to work from home and the office. I also love meeting colleagues for work coffee dates at one of Edmonton’s many great coffee shops—my favourite: Iconoclast!


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