Poppy Barley
Magazine  v
Founder's Letter

Progress, Not Perfection

Progress, not perfection. We live by these words at Poppy Barley. Perfection is paralyzing; progress is encouraging. Perfection reinforces the status quo while progress takes us forward. When it comes to the fashion industry, we need progress. Collectively, we need to change how we make, buy and dispose of products.

Prior to founding Poppy Barley, Justine’s career path was deeply rooted in social causes: homelessness, justice systems, and affordable housing. She was going to change the world by working in government and not-for-profit organizations. Together, we started Poppy Barley to solve the problem of finding boots that fit. Six years later, we know designing great fitting shoes is only part of Poppy Barley’s mission—what drives us on a daily basis is the footwear industry needing to change. Our goal is to create beautiful products we feel really good about. Factory workers require better working conditions. Tanneries must use fewer chemicals and leave behind clean water. Packaging needs to be reduced. More sustainable material options need to be introduced. Improving the footwear industry requires a million tiny steps. We’re committed to making progress. Every year, we release a Sustainability Report where we publicly share our goals.

Co-founders, Kendall (left) and Justine Barber (right).

In becoming a more socially-conscious company, Justine is our driving leader. Three years ago, Justine first suggested Poppy Barley become a Certified Benefit Corporation—a business that balances purpose and profit. This month, we achieved this ambitious goal. Justine shares what it means to be a B Corp and why it matters.

We’re celebrating another huge milestone this month. We FINALLY opened a store in Calgary at Market Mall. We love Calgary—the city has played a huge role in shaping Poppy Barley. In Calgary, we’ve held pop-up shops in wine stores, clothing boutiques, plant shops, coffee shops and California Closets. We even had a popup shop in a park during a rainstorm! Everywhere we showed up, Calgarians came to support us. We’re thrilled to finally show up for Calgary with a permanent store.

 Poppy Barley's Founders

We make shoes for really great people. Be inspired by these gentlemen: Jereme, owner of Hedkandi, Butter, and Johnny’s Barbershop salons in Calgary; Jared Smith, CMO of The Luxus Group; and Andrew Ference, Director of Social Impact, Growth and Fan Development at the NHL. For women kicking ass in their respective fields, read our interviews with Jill, gynecologist and supermom; Robyn partner and accountant extraordinaire at KPMG; and Nancy, VP of Urban Planning at Stantec; and Martha, Sr. VP of Strategic Services at DDB.

Not only are we inspired by those who wear our shoes but by those who are equally as driven in impacting the fashion industry— Marielle Elizabeth, slow fashion and size inclusivity advocate and a handful of progressively responsible brands: Unbelts, harly jae, ARC Apparel, Outland Denim, New Classics, FRANC, Fieldstudy and Free Label.

Just like the risk-takers that wear Poppy Barley shoes, the PB community continues to push for progress. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together this year.

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.