Poppy Barley

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The Conversation

In Her Shoes: Melina Kawecki

Who’s walking around in Poppy Barley shoes? Here, we spend 5 minutes with our customers to find out who they are and what they do.

Name

Melina Kawecki

Home

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

Poppy Barley style(s) I own:

The Modern Mary-Jane
Robin Egg Blue/Metallic Gold

The Feminine Slipper
Blue Jean Baby

The Classic Point
Sunrise Confetti

The Classic Point
Peony

The Slip-On Oxford
Black/Snakeskin

The Strappy Sandal
Metallic Lizard/Cheetah/Beach Tan

The Strappy Sandal
Azul/Cheetah/Blue Jean Baby

The Modern Mary Jane
Cheetah/Metallic Lizard/Beach Tan

The Uptown Boot
Limited Edition Gotham Grey


In Her Shoes: Melina, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about her life and her experience with Poppy Barley

Describe your typical work day.

Since I work out of three very different stores each week, my work days are never exactly typical, but they usually include loading up social media posts and communicating with customers on our social media feeds about concerns they may have, tracking website analytics and leads, building strategic, sending content ideas and direction to copywriters, organizing vehicle details for our photographers to shoot, and working with our management teams to ensure that their ideas are communicated to our website, digital advertising, radio, and print vendors to get the ads out and delivered to spec. Throw in a lot of meetings, some occasional technical support or event planning, monthly reporting, miscellaneous other marketing-related projects and the never-ending quest to get to “inbox zero,” and I am definitely kept on my toes.

What are you working on right now?

We recently opened our newest location Wheaton Toyota on the Trail, and are in the process of revamping our brand strategy. As a girl who grew up with a penchant for strategy-based board games, creating marketing campaigns is definitely my favourite part of my job, and working with a team to find a way to best communicate to potential customer who we are and how we want to help them is simply very exciting.

What are you most proud of?

This is such a tough question to answer! Overall, I suppose I am most proud of (and so terribly thankful for) being able to be comfortable and happy with my life (and who I am) at such a young age (I’m a few weeks shy of my 26th birthday). I have an incredible new husband and the sweetest dog, and we own our home without financial difficulty. I work for an exceptionally generous organization who treats me well, with coworkers who make my work day enjoyable and in a role that constantly challenges me and provides me room for professional growth. I have the flexibility in my life to be involved in multiple volunteer roles that allow me to participate in other things I have a passion for (What the Truck?!, Kappa Alpha Theta), and above all, I have the most kind and supportive family and friends. My life is by no means perfect, and as a person, I definitely know I have a lot more growing to do, but I am very proud of the work I have put in to achieve many goals I set out for myself and to wake up happy each day.

In Her Shoes: Melina, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about her life and her experience with Poppy Barley

What’s been your experience with Poppy Barley so far?

My experiences with Poppy Barley have been nothing short of amazing, and that definitely has had everything to do with the Customer Care/Customer Experience ladies that they hire.

I had started eyeing the Poppy Barley website early in 2013, but was at a point in my life where I was unhappy with my size and even though the whole idea behind custom boots is to be able to get a boot shaft in a non-standard width, I was hesitant to want to invest in these beautiful boots if I didn’t feel I was beautiful enough myself to wear them.

Later that summer, they released the first custom flats, which I knew would be my “gateway shoe” and that eventually I could work up to boots. I waited a little longer because I wanted to see what the spring colours would be, and was glad that I did, because the day that the e-mail went out about Metallic Gold and Robin Egg Blue leathers the following spring, I knew that the shoes in that e-mail were completely what I was looking for.

The issue – I was in Berlin, hadn’t been measured (and didn’t have a measuring tape) and didn’t want to miss out. I e-mailed Breanne in Customer Care, and she was SO helpful that I could have cried (knowing me, I probably did). With her advice via email (despite the 8 hour time difference making my e-mails arrive at a wildly inconvenient time for her), my then-fiance/now-husband and I were able to fashion a measuring tape using the notepad paper from our hotel room and compare our measurements with Breanne and her sage advice to get them ordered in time (and thank goodness, because they sold out the following day). When they eventually arrived, they didn’t quite fit, but Breanne told me to come down that same day and my reorder showed up 3 weeks later from the date I brought them in.

I loved them from the moment I tried them on, and came home beaming at which point my husband told me I should order another pair for summer (uh, of course!), and save these ones for a very special occasion – our wedding day. Since that time, I have acquired 8 more pairs for my collection, including my very first pair of boots (which are a solid 8 cm narrower in the shaft than the first time I measured myself for boots, and I am so glad that I waited).

In Her Shoes: Melina, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about her life and her experience with Poppy Barley

What’s your shoe care routine?

If you’re going to invest in a well-made wardrobe staple, you should be prepared to take care of it. I have a few shoe rules.

Melina’s how-to for caring for your shoes:
  1. No matter how exciting the unboxing experience is (mine get delivered to the office), after the initial dance and squeal, they have to go back into the dust bag and home and be protected before I can wear them out anywhere. I use Collonil Organic Protect & Care (and follow the directions explicitly).
  2. If the forecast calls for more than a little rain or snow, wear your Hunter boots and bring your Poppy Barleys in a dustbag, and change when you get there. Not sure what constitutes “a little” rain? My rule of thumb is if I’m worried that my hair will be ruined, then I don’t want to risk my shoes in puddles (and Hunter boots are cute too).
  3. If you wore them yesterday, wear different ones today; when not being worn, Poppy Barleys live in their dustbags with the supports they came with. I’ve found the best way to store them is to get a hanger and loop the straps from the dustbags around that and allow them to hang (instead of having them stacked on top of each other).
  4. Do clean them, regularly. The Poppy Barley site recommends cleaning them every 8-10 wears, but I have found that to be dependent on your situation. Working on dusty (or in the winter, salty) Whyte Avenue is great for lunch options and shopping, but not very kind to footwear, especially the nubuck leathers (Blue Jean Baby has been my favourite to date). On a daily basis, the pair of shoes that I’m wearing come home with a fine layer of dust around the bottom edge and sometimes on the back heel that I dust off with a cloth in my desk throughout the day and again when I get home. If there is anything immediately stuck to them or spots that I notice, I will spot clean as soon as I get home. Because the area I work in is not kind to my shoes, they get a full clean every 4-5 wears, but this will be different if you wear them out of the inside of your clean house straight into an attached garage, park inside a clean, covered parkade and don’t ever wear them outside. You can probably get away with cleaning less often. For me (and the number of Poppy Barley shoes I have to rotate through), I have “cleaning day” with all of my shoes about once a month to get them as pretty as they were the day I got them. I use Collonil Organic Bamboo Lotion, plus paper towel for flat leather and the suede brush for nubuck leather.
    • Tips for cleaning: Less product is more – you can always do multiple coats. Once they’re clean, let them dry completely, and then finish it off with a fresh application of protectant. If they’re nubuck leather, wait for it to dry completely again before using the rubbery side of the suede brush to soften up the texture a little bit. DON’T use the wire brush side of the suede brush on your flat leathers because it will scratch them; if you have anything stuck on the leather really badly, spray the spot with Bamboo Lotion and allow it to soak, and then loosen with a piece of clean paper towel.

In Her Shoes: Melina, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about her life and her experience with Poppy Barley

In just a few words, how would you describe your style?

Comfortable classics with a touch of interest. Right now, I really love mixed metals and clothing with mixed textures in the same colour.

When you travel to the Rocky Mountains (we shot our Fall 2015 Collection in the Rocky Mountains), what’s your favourite place to stay?

In the summer, I love Mount Robson in Jasper. In the winter, our family has a condo at the Grande Rockies in Canmore.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

My phone has about 4 Chrome windows open with Google queries for restaurants and activities around Harrison, British Columbia (we leave for our honeymoon at Rowena’s Inn on the River in a couple weeks)!

What’s one thing on your mind that you really want to talk about right now?

One of the things that attracted me to Poppy Barley was that it was started by two women, here in Edmonton, to solve a simple problem. Our city is filled with so many brilliant, courageous people who are putting their heart and soul into businesses and organizations that solve our problems or raise awareness and support for different things here, in our community, that affect us as a whole. They create jobs for our loved ones, provide options for ethically sourced products, and make our community very special. If you have the choice and opportunity, please support local businesses.

In Her Shoes: Melina, a Poppy Barley customer, shares a little about her life and her experience with Poppy Barley

If you could turn into any animal for a day, what would you pick? What would you do?

Perhaps I am biased, but I am convinced that there is no happier animal in the world than a golden retriever, and I would totally want to be one for a day. I would wake up early and smell the flowers in the yard and roll in the grass, ride in the car with my head out the window and feel the breeze on my face, run around with my friends at the dog park, nap with my body half on the tile floor and half on the carpet, and cuddle up on the couch at the end of the day with a person that I love more than anything else.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Why?

I would choose the ability to manipulate space and time to slow things down, or be able to re-live the same times in the different places (kind of like Hermione’s Time Turner). When people ask me to help them with things, I want to be able to say yes and commit myself to it fully, and when things are especially busy, it seems like time goes by even more quickly. I want to do all of the things all the time and still enjoy the little moments and keep everyone happy. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that that kind of magic really does exist, and one day, someone will be able to let me in on it. 🙂

If you were going to lose one sense, what would you be willing to give up? Why?

This one was a big debate – I think I would want to give up my ability to smell (assuming that in this scenario, it would not affect my ability to taste), but I only came to this conclusion by process of elimination. I would be much more upset to lose the ability to see someone smile, listen to my Grandma tell me about her day (twice a day every day), feel my dog snuggle in as I scratched behind her ears, or taste any of my favourite foods, and even though I would miss the smell of freshly cut fruit, lush gardens, bread straight out of the oven and new leather, I think I could learn to appreciate the other things in life after the fact.

If you could walk in anybody’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

I have an absolute lady-crush on Jillian Harris. She seems so unapologetically true-to-herself, genuine and fiercely loyal to her family and friends, despite being a crazy talented and successful designer and television personality. Plus she has incredible style!

Caroline Gault

Director of Content & Community, Poppy Barley
Caroline handles social media, online content, and media relations at Poppy Barley. She's also a freelance lifestyle writer, editor, and a die-hard Instagram fan.