Poppy Barley




We proudly handcraft all Poppy Barley footwear in León, a city of two million people located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, approximately three hours north of Mexico City.

Often referred to as “The Shoe Capital of the World,” León has been making shoes since 1645, and it is this centuries-old history of craftsmanship that, after a global search—from Argentina to Italy and China— convinced us to set up production there.

León’s thriving footwear industry has attracted many immigrants from Italy, Spain and Argentina over the years, and the result is a vibrant fusion of food, culture, and the best practices in shoemaking.

Poppy Barley makes its footwear in Leon, Mexico.
Poppy Barley makes its footwear in Leon, Mexico.

a 36 km supply chain

León has one of the world’s leading footwear manufacturing clusters: all of the necessary production supplies are concentrated within a 36 km radius.

The city holds 3,394 shoe manufacturers, 388 leather goods manufacturers, 300 suppliers (machinery, outsoles, textiles, synthetic materials, glues, fittings, etc.), and 696 tanneries.

The city of León, and the partnerships with our factories, makes it possible for Poppy Barley to bring our customers the highest quality materials and what we believe to be the most comfortable footwear in the world.

Poppy Barley makes its footwear in Leon, Mexico.
Poppy Barley makes its footwear in Leon, Mexico.

Our Team in Mexico

We have a small office and team based in León. Working closely with our shoemakers, we make regular visits to each factory multiple times per month, if not per week. Our Mexico team oversees our production and product development, ensuring every pair of shoes and all leather goods we produce meet strict standards of quality control before shipping to Canada and the US.

Follow our Mexico Operations Manager, Laura, on a typical day in the business of shoemaking.

Mexico Operations Manager, Laura

Our Mexico Operations Manager, Laura.

Poppy Barley footwear.

Factory artisans, Don Rogelio and Alfonso.

Factory owner, Fernando.

Our Canadian team, Jane and Esther, visiting Fernando’s factory.

Ethical Manufacturing

Poppy Barley screens all its factories for positive working conditions, including a living wage (Poppy Barley pays, on average, six times the the region’s minimum wage), full-time permanent employment with health care and pension benefits, fair working hours, paid vacation and sick leave, and ongoing training and opportunity. We also prohibit human rights violations (e.g. child labour, discrimination for pregnancy, forced overtime etc.). By working closely with our factories, we are able to closely monitor our factories (and get to know our incredible artisans)!

Beginning in 2017, inspired by fair trade factories, we implemented a wage premium of 0.5% of sales that goes directly to the artisans at our footwear factories. (See our 2017 Sustainability Report.)

We build long-term relationships with all our factories and provide consistent work, rather than changing suppliers to find the cheapest contracts for manufacturing. This helps our factories provide permanent, secure employment and allows us to produce high quality products with longevity.


Our Factory - Custom Shoes - Poppy Barley

Lupita’s Footwear Factory

Number of employees: 22
Year established: 1996

The Owner
This factory was founded twenty years ago by Lupita. Poppy Barley co-founders Kendall and Justine Barber serendipitously met Lupita when their shoe broker Laura’s 12-year old daughter came home and reported her best friend’s mom (Lupita) could make custom footwear (did you catch all that?). This was the beginning of the Poppy Barley partnership (and became the original Poppy Barley factory) formed by four women: Kendall, Justine, Lupita and Laura.

The Factory
Lupita recruited all of her shoemakers from the sample rooms of León’s top manufacturers. (It is in the sample rooms of larger factories where the first prototype of every new shoe style is handcrafted before it is mass-produced by an assembly line.) The artisans have decades of experience in shoemaking, having launched their careers when it was still the norm to make shoes entirely by hand.

Our Factory - Custom Shoes - Poppy Barley

Fernando’s Footwear Factory

Number of employees: 100
Year established: 2006

The Owner
This factory was established by Fernando ten years ago as an extension to his family’s business. While Fernando’s factory is large and capable of producing 8,000 pairs of shoes per week for outside clients, his lifelong dream has been to own a small, high-end factory that focuses on top quality materials, small-batch manufacturing and the art of shoemaking. This is where Poppy Barley comes in…

The Factory
Fernando and Poppy Barley have developed a small cell of highly skilled artisans dedicated to the development and manufacturing of Poppy Barley’s custom and ready-to-wear footwear. More specifically, Fernando’s factory makes Poppy Barley’s line-up of Ankle Boots and Slip-on Oxfords.

Our Leather Bag Factory - Poppy Barley

José and Maria’s Leather Bag Factory

Number of employees: 55
Year established: 1989

The Owner
Husband-and-wife-team José and Maria moved from Spain to Mexico in 1989 to create a better life for their family. Making handbags in their kitchen, they invested $2000 USD to buy a leather-cutting table, a used sewing machine and a trip to L.A. to purchase sheepskin imported from Europe.

The Factory
The vision was (and continues to be) to make the highest quality products. Today, this factory is recognized as the top handbag producer in Mexico. Together with Poppy Barley, they developed The Perfect Handbag, which launched in December 2015.

Our Accessories Factory- Poppy Barley

Mario’s Leather Accessories Factory

Number of employees: 35
Year established: 2001

The Owner
Mario’s family has been making leather goods for three generations, but it wasn’t until his mid-twenties, during an inspiring trip to the Prada factories in Italy, that he decided to devote his life to the industry. While there, he was surprised to learn that the luxury cars in the parking lot were not driven by the factory owners, but by the artisans. He decided to bring this model of thought to shoemaking in México, to teach people to work with care, to instil love, passion and pride in their products, and to elevate the status of the makers.

The Factory
This factory manufactures the Poppy Barley Wristlet, which launched in November 2015. Still inspired by a higher mission to develop craftspeople, Mario’s factory hosts regular training sessions for their employees to further develop their manufacturing skills, but also on subjects like psychology, art, and business.

If you have any other questions regarding our shoemaking practices, or the story behind Poppy Barley,
please do not hesitate to contact our founders at justine@poppybarley.com and kendall@poppybarley.com.