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Step Inside PB: Our Heritage and Where We’re Going Next

11-minute read

Our heritage makes us who we are today. It spans from our triumphs, failures, and milestones, to our traditions, people, culture, and the stories we love to tell. In honour of our 10th birthday, we’re celebrating the awesome people who got us here. The PB team. The early-believers. Every customer. Our community. Even the critics. We’re not Poppy Barley without you.

We can’t wait for what comes next. Here’s a look at how our team celebrates Poppy Barley’s heritage and values, and how they envision our future.

 

Inspiring Connections

 

Jessica Bester
Pop-up & Marketplace Lead

"I've been dubbed the "Swiss Army Knife" over my 6.5 years at Poppy Barley – I have done a little bit of everything. Currently, I plan and execute all of our Pop-up Shops, help open new brick & mortar locations, and manage our Concierge Team."

What is your favourite memory at Poppy Barley over the past 10 years? 

Travelling across the country for pop-ups with your colleagues (who are also great friends!) always leads to fun adventures and silly stories. There have been a few missed flights, "wildlife" encounters, dinners at incredible restaurants, local concerts, cocktail hours and late-night dessert runs. Never a dull moment around here!

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited?

Well, I already kind of spilled the beans, but we are growing quickly and there are so many new and exciting plans in the works! I can't wait for us to continue to bring pop-ups and open new PB locations to new cities. North America here we come!

Kendall Barber
Co-CEO and Co-Founder

"Officially, Co-CEO and Co-Founder. The co-founder part means I've done almost every job at PB. Today, I work alongside Justine to set the vision and strategic plan for PB. On a daily basis, I lead our growth, marketing and e-commerce teams."

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment from your time at Poppy Barley? 

I'm really proud of how our team, partners and factories navigated covid together–we're more aligned, more passionate than ever! 

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

The professional and personal growth opportunities that exist for our teams.

 

Business for Good

 

Esther Vara
Senior Manager, Operations and Procurement

"My main responsibilities revolve around inventory management, buying strategies, merchandising plans, and operational processes for getting our stock delivered to the right location, in the right quantity, and at the right time. I am also heavily involved with our suppliers, from factory sourcing and pricing negotiation to implementation of quality controls."

What is your favorite memory at Poppy Barley over the past 10 years?

Travelling to Mexico with Kendall and Justine to visit our main footwear and accessories factories in early 2017. Meeting the people who make our products in person, talking to them and seeing the positive impact that Poppy Barley has on their lives is very special to me. Many years and factory visits later, I still feel inspired and energized after every trip!

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

Our expansion plans across Canada and becoming a nationally-recognized brand. From a product perspective, I am excited about growing our supplier network to expand into new categories, reaching our sustainability goals and carbon neutrality.

Justine Barber
Co-Founder and Co-CEO

"I'm a co-founder and co-CEO. My portfolio is Retail, Operations, and Product. Generally in my position I work on the future and on problems."

What is your favorite memory at Poppy Barley over the past 10 years?

This is a very old one, but in 2013, Kendall, Daelan, Breanne and I were in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico for the Day of the Dead and it was amazing. It was this huge party full of Katrinas (aka skeleton people), mariachi bands and shrines to honor past loved ones. It was very cool. I'd love to go back with my family.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

To be honest, the fact that I think we've figured most of the hard stuff out. Kendall and I have grown tremendously as leaders over the past 10 years and our team is super strong. All I see ahead is opportunity, growth, and the chance to increase our impact.

 

Uniqueness is Powerful

 

Kalie Johnston
Product Design Lead

"I design the products that arrive on the sales floor. This involves choosing visual direction for the season, finding new styles, lasts, and soles to add to our line, choosing colors and leathers for the collection, and identifying the right factories and partners to help make our products."

What is your favorite memory at Poppy Barley over the past 10 years?

My first trip to Lyons, Mexico with the team. I got to meet Lupita and the Lyons team and Jose and Sebastian from Llompart and it really helped me to develop lasting and great working relationships with our Lyons factories. Seeing our tanneries, factories, meeting the people who lovingly hand-make our products was really impactful.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

Becoming a household name in Canadian fashion, while applying best practices in sustainable and ethical design. I am so happy to be part of our growth as a company and can't wait to see our shoes and accessories on even more people across Canada, and even the world.

Marina Eckert
Social & Community Lead

"I ultimately work to make connections with people! I foster our brand community through partnerships and customers on social media, and within our team by planning events and volunteer opportunities. I love hearing and sharing stories about our brand, and the delight people experience when they try our shoes for the first time."

What is your favorite memory at Poppy Barley over the past 10 years?

A customer reached out to us because she was hoping to replace a PB cosmetic bag that was gifted to her by a late family member, which was lost on a trip. We were no longer selling it, but I was determined to help her. After a few days of searching the back of our warehouse, I found the exact bag she was missing and shipped it to her as a surprise. She sent a heartwarming message, and I was so glad we were able to replace this precious item for her.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

Our growth and progress. From joining the team of eight people six years ago (where we stored and shipped all of our product out of a small meeting room), to now 43 people in the company, multiple locations, and a large warehouse, it's so exciting to see where we go next!

 

Product Excellence

 

Harley Wallace
Visual Brand Lead

"I create a cohesive visual experience across our brand channels and materials. This includes art direction of photoshoots, overseeing the design of our emails, designing pages for our website, and creating printed assets for our retail locations and packaging experiences."

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment from your time at Poppy Barley?

Launching campaigns that give back to our community. From The Manuel Fund (2020) to our annual Black Friday Funds it is rewarding to work for a local business that prioritizes its community and gives back in such meaningful ways.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

The continued evolution of our brand and growth across North America! As we add new product categories and continue to refine our design aesthetic, it is exciting to play a role in evolving our brand to match our growth.

Kalie Johnston
Product Design Lead

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment from your time at Poppy Barley?

Proudest moment: Launching the TempDrop collection! This is something that we have been working on since I started with the company 3 years ago and I was so thrilled to be part of making it happen.

 

Rethinking Every Step

 

Zac Holt
Growth & Analytics Manager

"I'm primarily focused on enabling our teams to make smart, fast decisions with the data we have at our disposal, and figuring out how we are going to bring Poppy Barley to hundreds of thousands of people (and hopefully pets ;) ) over the next 5 years."

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment from your time at Poppy Barley?

2 favourite memories: 1. Working sample sale every year. I knew our customers were passionate about the product and brand, but it's energizing and re-affirming to see it in person every year; and 2. Seeing our team and customers band together during the pandemic. It was tough, but our team stuck together and did what we do best, and our incredible customers supported us (bought shoes!!) at a time when no one was leaving the house.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

How few people have even heard of Poppy Barley. We are 10 years in, but we are just getting started.

Daelan Wood
Director of Technology

"I build and maintain all of the eCommerce and Operational systems that run our business. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can be more efficient and how we can make the online experience for our customers better."

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment from your time at Poppy Barley?

The first Sample Sale we did was at our location at the Mercer Building in Startup Edmonton. I remember coming out of our office to see how many people were lined up, not expecting much at all and it was lined up down 3 flights of stairs and down the block. It was the first moment I thought... Holy sh*t this just might work.

Thinking ahead to the next decade at Poppy Barley, what gets you most excited? 

I'm really excited to see our team grow and to see how far we can take things.

 

What We’ve Learned

Ten years later, ten years wiser. Kendall and Justine share the advice they would give to themselves ten years ago if they could.

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