Poppy Barley

Magazine  v

The Read

24 Hours with Poppy Barley’s Mexico Operations Manager

From morning to night, Laura, our Mexico Operations Manager, details a typical day in the shoemaking business in León, Mexico.

Laura

6:00AM  I wake up, drink a couple cups of coffee and wake up my youngest, Ernesto. (I would love to say that I do some yoga, or even better, run, but of course I don’t. My exercise chip—that little device that people are supposed to have in their brain that asks them to exercise—is absolutely broken or even worse… missing! It hasn’t worked in my whole life. I very hardly drag myself to swim twice a week, and will make any excuse to miss!)

7:00AM  Ernesto starts school at 7:15, so we need to leave home at 7:00 no matter what, otherwise school will close its doors and I will have a gorgeous but unhappy teenager-helper at work all day, and that is a recipe for unhappy mother too. So, at 7:00 all our alarms ring so we can’t miss the checker flag that really starts my day. We leave the other Ernesto (husband/dad) and take off to our daily journey through the city.

Laura Driving in Mexico
Downtown León, Mexico
Laura Driving in Mexico

7:30AM  I am at the office by myself for around 40 minutes, and that is the best time ever! No one is at the factory yet, so no interruptions, no noise, no people asking questions, it is just me and my daily to-do list. Truth is, if it is written there, it will likely get done that day. If I forget to include it on the list, it most certainly will be off my brain for the rest of the day. For me, there is a short lapse of memory that works very early in the day, and after that, it is all gone. (Remember Dory from Finding Nemo? My family calls me that.)

Laura in Mexico
Laura's Office

8:00ISH AM   The Team (Marcela and Paulina) get to the office, and then we go through my to-do list again. We all brainstorm together, and they add all that they can think of to my to-do list, so it becomes OUR really long to-do list. We share as we’re checking off items too.

9:00AM  This can happen at the same factory where our office is (twice a week), or at the other factory (usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) where we don’t have an office: As soon as we’re done with the day planning and daily duties, the three of us do the packing and QC (quality check) of each and all of the PB products that we offer. Every boot, shoe, bag, is carefully reviewed and packed so they can stay pretty all the way to Edmonton and beyond. It is not a short trip, so it is super important that everything is supervised and packed really carefully.

Laura doing Quality control
Laura doing Quality control
Laura doing Quality control
Laura doing Quality control

12:00PM  My whole morning flows like that, between QC supervision, production schedule, lots of emails to the Canada office, material follow up, inventories, and my to do list, it feels like these three hours have just vanished, and before I know it, my team is gone (they are both part time). Marcela has another part time job she needs to get to, so she really needs to leave at noon. Paulina is a mom of three really young kids, so she needs to leave too. So, I am by myself again, but now the factory is working, so my bigger team—leather cutters, shoe makers, sewers—are still around to cheer me up, and to ask lots of questions, and still keep up with my to-do list.

Factory in MexicoFactory in Mexico

Downtown León, Mexico

This is the time that I gather with the factory managers/owners to go over production, timelines, shipments, payments, etc. Not only in person, but also via Skype with our tannery in Guadalajara, etc.

Very important: So far, I haven’t had a formal breakfast… I am just snacking on parts of my lunch (my beautiful husband prepares me my lunch bag with the healthiest of all foods, tons of spinach, tea, are you familiar with nopales??? Healthy and delicious.)

2:00 P.M.  Of course, by lunch time, I am starving and haven’t finished with my list, but I have promised myself to leave at 2:00pm no matter what (again!) so that I can finish fixing lunch at home, so the whole family gathers to have lunch at home (lucky me, I live on the same side of the city that our factories are, so it is just a very short drive away).

Laura in Mexico

Afternoon Option A): I go see our other two factories to supervise production or QC their stuff and process. Or, I go source new materials, or see suppliers, etc.

Afternoon Option B): I am back at the office for a couple hours to take care of whatever else comes up and give one last long look to my list. At this point, it is mostly finished and if anything was left behind, it will just be added to the next day’s list.

Factory in MexicoFactory in Mexico

I try to flow with the day as happily as possible, but it is always easier said than done, as everyday has its own dose of unexpected and stressful issues that need to be addressed really fast, as they are usually time sensitive.

7:00 P.M.  I get home to have dinner with my two Ernestos again. Our daughter Maria is away in another city studying, so we are not seeing each other during the weekdays… I talk to her and text her almost everyday during the day, at no particular time, just when either has something we want to share with the other, something that happened to her at school, anything about her boyfriend, permissions to parties, etc. 

Laura Witho her family

8:30 P.M.  I really am an early bird, so waking up is not hard at all, but as soon as it gets dark, I start getting really sleepy… so I just get home, prepare dinner and as soon as we are done, I am half asleep! 

10:00 P.M.  I maybe read a little, watch some TV, I am in bed.

Laura

Operations Manager
Laura has worked with Poppy Barley since the very beginning - even before the beginning - when we flew down to León, Mexico to find a custom shoe factory in 2012. Laura streamlines all operations with our factory and suppliers, and is the last person to see, touch and feel your shoes before they ship out to you. Laura lives in León with her husband, Ernesto, daughter, Maria, and son, Ernesto.