Poppy Barley

Magazine  v

The Tutorial

How To Work At Poppy Barley

Lots of great business ideas exist. Without great people on your team to make ideas happen, businesses fail. Poppy Barley grows, transforms and improves everyday because the right people are on the team. It all started with my co-founder, Justine, who was bold enough to explore the idea of “custom footwear for the masses”. Justine’s curiosity, work ethic and commitment drew me to be her “first follower” a.k.a co-founder. Or, as Justine tells it:

“I met Kendall at birth, but in the first year of our relationship there was nothing to indicate we would later be happy business owners together and working in production.

In fact, in the first year of my life, she frequently hit me (as a toddler Kendall was vicious—many of the neighbourhood children were not allowed to play with her). I do remember her sitting on me a lot when we were young children and the moment when I realized, around 8, that I didn’t have to follow her every order. That she could go get her own damn scissors! (She just turned her tyranny to our youngest sister, whom she got to boss around for a few more years.)

Over the years, though, Kendall started to impress me. She is a natural leader, always the playground chief, the captain of the team, and always had a very strong sense of self. In Junior High, when many kids started experimenting with smoking and alcohol she made it cool to not smoke and not drink. (I couldn’t even try a cigarette since everyone knew Kendall was my sister.)

She is also incredibly persistent (I realized this after watching her put together an Ikea filing cabinet for 8 hours… do not buy). And I already knew, from her showing up at my house at 6 am every day for weeks to make me marathon train with her, she is incredibly goal-oriented. (Most of what I have achieved in life is merely me trying to keep up with Kendall.)

So those qualities, plus her background in marketing and blogging, made her my first recruit when I started Poppy Barley. At first she wasn’t interested but, like the great sister she is, pledged to help me in any way. I used that to lure her in to get excited about the idea, then a couple months later made her choose whether she was fully in or fully out. She chose in and the rest, as they say, is history.”

We’ve since amassed many more “followers” and evolved from the custom footwear idea—except the people who work at Poppy Barley are anything but followers. The team at Poppy Barley is inquisitive, altruistic and damn smart. Everyone is an “A-player” and expectations are high for new people joining our team. There’s a culture of accountability, performance and humour. We laugh a lot at Poppy Barley because it’s our way of dealing with the complicated and the unexpected—and, ultimately, work should be fun! We believe we all do our best work when we’re happy.

So, exactly how does one get a job at Poppy Barley? Good question.

Our Careers page is one of our most frequently visited—and we rarely have jobs posted. It’s not that Poppy Barley isn’t growing, we are. We’ve added 13 new jobs this year. Half the jobs were posted, the other half were filled without a public posting. We’re always recruiting. We do a lot of watching and admiring people’s work. Your name might already be on our top-secret-list of people we want to work at Poppy Barley. When positions become available, we pursue our prospects.

Poppy Barley Southgate Flagship Team

When reviewing applications and during interviews, we look for interesting people with talent and grit. We’re drawn to people who bet on themselves by freelancing, or moving across the country, or traveling alone, or taking on a big project, or working two jobs to make things happen. We love to hire people who have passion projects and fill their weekends with interesting activities. Being diverse makes us a better team.

To put this all into practice, we’re sharing with you how some of us landed our roles at Poppy Barley.

LAURA
Operations Manager—Mexico

Laura

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

September 2012

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I think how I came to work at Poppy Barley was the craziest way ever! I had been a broker for the shoe/leather goods industry for 20 years, for all kinds of shoe companies in USA and Australia. Companies that used to export many pairs of the same kind of shoe every month with very slight changes, mainly as most mass production companies do. I got an email from Justine asking me to translate for them for a few days while they were in León. When I first heard about their small batch production/made-to-order idea, I thought, this can’t be done!!!! All my years in the shoe business clearly said so! Little did I know that all together, we were going to change the way things were done in the shoe industry, and we would become a one-of-a-kind company in North America!! Long story short, 5 years later I am a huge fan of what we do at Poppy Barley, and I absolutely LOVE our small batches and made-to-order footwear.

Of course it could be done, just nobody had thought about it before 🙂

DAELAN
Director of Technology</2>
Daelan

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

May 2012

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I was first hired by Justine & Kendall as a contractor to build the original Poppy Barley website. This was long before they had sold their first pair of boots. I was working for myself as a freelance web developer and a mutual friend introduced us. I liked the idea right away and got along well with Justine & Kendall. We spent many many hours emailing back and forth while I hacked together the first iteration of the website and eventually I started working a few afternoons a week out of their office at Startup Edmonton. Things went well, and eventually they asked me to join the team as a full-time employee. That was 5 years ago.

MONICA
Director of Design & User Experience

Monica

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

June 2012

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I was living and working in Vancouver post-design school when I was first introduced to the Barber sisters. I was working the agency life, freelancing whenever I could and doing the big-city scramble. I was recommended to Justine and Kendall by my sister (Caroline, our Director of Content) and after a quick screening (“Well, is she good though??”) I was lined up for a Skype meeting. We went on to start a contract position to develop the brand and the first iteration of the website. We worked closely together to capture the Poppy Barley personality when there wasn’t even a boot sample to stand on! After launching the company in November 2012, I continued miscellaneous design work for Poppy Barley until they offered me a full-time position in April 2013. Since then my position has run the gamut of all things visual for the company, and I’ve watched in awe as the Brand has grown and transformed into this living, breathing organism. The Poppy Barley team has always had an amazing ability to push past boundaries, think big and work collaboratively, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds with the company over the next few years.

CAROLINE
Director of Content & Community

Caroline

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

December 2012

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

After completing PR and magazine internships in Vancouver, I returned home to Edmonton and began a 2-year stint as a freelance fashion/lifestyle writer. I attended events in the city (at least 2 per week as the Edmonton Journal’s social columnist, and more as FASHION Magazine’s Alberta Editor), and ran into Kendall at many of them (what you might not know is that Kendall ran a popular blog called City and Dale for years!). We were also both part of a women’s entrepreneurship group, as Kendall was also running marketing for Eye-Bar at the time. One night, at the opening of Edmonton’s first J.Crew store, Kendall revealed that she was starting a footwear company and was looking for a graphic designer. I recommended my older sister, Monica (as you’ve read above!), and vicariously followed the Poppy Barley branding journey over the next few months. Days after getting an early boot sample made to fit my long, narrow feet, I was hooked on PB. I emailed Kendall and Justine in mid-December 2012 and pitched myself as their communications girl—writing web copy, running social media, figuring out a PR strategy—fusing together a mishmash of skills I’d gathered through my rookie-journalism career, plus the basics I’d learned about branding through managing my own social media channels. As an English Major/Creative Writing Minor, I never imagined I’d be working in marketing full time (and my freelance writing, although not entirely obsolete, has become very part-time!). What’s more, getting up and coming to work with this team every day is more motivating to me than flying solo as a full-time freelancer. I count myself lucky that I can do both!

ESTHER
Operations Manager—Canada

Esther

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

May 2015

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

Before moving to Edmonton from Spain in November 2014 (for love!), I spent a lot of time learning about the city (and how to prepare for its never-ending winters!). I was immediately captivated by the startup community in YEG, and especially by Poppy Barley, so I decided to reach out to Kendall and see where that leads me. Having a business background, and after some corporate jobs, I really wanted to try something new that challenged me and pushed me outside my comfort zone. At Poppy Barley, I have been able to use my mother tongue, Spanish (although, to our Mexico team, I still have a bit of an accent!) and my analytical, detailed-oriented mind to help grow our operations and improve our processes both in Mexico and in Canada. What motivates me everyday is the amazing team we have and how committed we are to rethinking this industry, every step of the way.

JANE
Marketing and Retail Operations Manager

Jane

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

July 2015

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I had just graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and had spent my last semester abroad in Vienna exploring Europe. Returning to rural Alberta to live with my parents on their farm was a bit of a shock and had me yearning to find my dream job in the city. While visiting a friend in Edmonton, who at the time was working at a temporary Kit and Ace popup in the Poppy Barley showroom, I was first introduced to the brand and to Kendall. After expressing my need to figure out, “What I was going to do with my life,” I asked if I could take Kendall for coffee to hear her story. She replied, “Coffee or we could go for wine.” What started as a conversation about travel, relationships and starting a business, then turned into Kendall asking exactly what I wanted in a job and later lead to a job offer. I started out with Poppy Barley under a six month marketing internship which later lead to a full-time position as Marketing Manager and Retail Ops. Don’t let this title fool you—it also includes being a professional UHaul Driver, DIY Painter and part-time foot model. Working with such inspiring and smart people every day has made Poppy Barley a crazy dream job come true and I am so excited to see where we go!

JESSICA
Customer Experience Coordinator

Jessica

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

May 2016

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

Jane (above, our Marketing and Retail Operations Manager) who I forced to be my friend on our first day of University, introduced me! It started out as a part-time gig, I loved the brand and what it stood for, so I was happy to help out on weekends. After a position opened up a few months later I applied, crossed all my fingers and my toes, and did a 5-hour prep for my interview lol. I actually remember hearing about PB back when it first started in Startup Edmonton. I was so intrigued hearing about a locally designed and ethical footwear company, but at the time I was still in school. Later, after talking with Kendall I came to realize that I’d actually followed her blog City and Dale for years when I was younger as well! I served all throughout University and most of my jobs were customer service related— so this job seemed like a perfect fit! Besides, I love working with people, and who doesn’t love shoes?!

Working in a startup means wearing a lot of different hats, which keeps my days full and exciting! We have such a creative team here, and its always amazing to see how we create and come up with new ideas and products!

MARINA
Customer Experience Officiant

Marina

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

September 2016

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

After lusting over Poppy Barley shoes all through my university career, I was lucky enough to join the team shortly after graduating. My background is a BSc in Human Ecology, and I’ve always loved the idea of working in fashion (but wanted to live in Edmonton, which can make finding a job in this field a bit challenging!) I feel that my organized nature and positive personality can help me get through the craziest days at Poppy Barley, as no day is EVER the same. I absolutely love working here because it feels like I’m constantly learning thanks to the creative and talented people surrounding me at all times!

VANESSA
Graphic Designer

Vanessa

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

January 2017

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I started as an intern graphic designer at Poppy Barley after freshly graduating from the Graphic Design Program at MacEwan. I had been freelancing a bit before, but this was a nice way to adjust to the non-school world. Since working at Poppy Barley, I’ve been given the chance to work on some cool projects that I never thought I would be doing in my first year—one being the illustrated mural of León, which you can now see at the Poppy Barley Southgate Flagship. So, that’s pretty great!

KATE
Retail Manager

Kate

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

February 2017

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

I was a HUGE Poppy Barley fan prior to joining the company. My first pair was La Hacienda Boot in black, which I received as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend (now husband) in 2013 (pretty great, I know). I was wearing them at Startup Edmonton a few months later when I was running a Design Thinking & Innovation workshop, and that’s where I met Kendall! Over the next couple of years, she and I met now and then to discuss my background in retail, customer experience design, among many other things. When Kendall informed me about the opportunity at Southgate, I was incredibly excited! I could not be happier working to bring one of my favourite brands to open the first PB store at Southgate.

JENN
Controller

Jenn

When did you join the Poppy Barley team?

May 2017

How did you come to work at Poppy Barley?

My adventure with the PB team started when a friend texted me at 6:30 in the morning with a screenshot of a Facebook post looking for accounting help.  I believe her words were “This looks like a sweet gig!”.  I agreed and quickly applied with a cover letter, which contained an assurance that I had more personality than my designation may suggest. In the past, I have worked auditing the government (most boring) and Controller of a Car Dealership (much more interesting) but I also started out working retail, so I can appreciate how accounting impacts operations at a store level.  Since joining Poppy Barley, I have been most amazed with the team atmosphere and all of the meetings that take place where the core goal is to make sure the customer gets the best product and the best experience.

Kendall Barber

Co-Founder, Poppy Barley
Kendall is the co-founder of Poppy Barley, a company redefining luxury footwear with its focus on style, comfort, ethical manufacturing and materials--not markups. Kendall is a marathoner and lululemon run ambassador, a self described "pretend chef" and "cookie monster", and a morning enthusiast (you'll find her running trails at 6am). She lives in Edmonton, AB with her husband, Ross and puppy, Whip.