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Poppy Barley

Magazine  v

Founder's Letter

When Happiness Drives Success

Kendall

Time is on my mind. I’ve realized: It’s amazing how much we get to do in a lifetime. I’ve spent 35 years rushing, but not really getting anywhere faster. This year, life forced me to embrace time differently—more slowly, more in the moment. Surprisingly, I’m finding a lot of truth in the words, “When I go slow, I go fast”. I’ll add: “And life is better”.

This August, we opened the Poppy Barley flagship store in Southgate Centre. Our first meeting with Southgate took place in October 2014—almost 3 years ago! At the time, we were still figuring out our sales channels—online, retail store, or wholesale? Back then, we were in the business of custom design and made-to-measure shoes. Three years later, our brand has evolved.

We’re far less custom than in our early days—no more custom design, and instead, more streamlined size offerings (in most styles, that’s 5 Narrow to 15 Wide for men, and 5 Narrow to 12 Wide for women, plus calf-fitted boots!). We know becoming less “custom” meant breaking some of your hearts (I’m sorry!). As the company grew, we identified what we did best. Together with feedback from our customers and community, we created a business model that works and a vision for Poppy Barley that inspires us.

Now, our business is about creating beautiful, ethically-made products that become closet staples because they fit better, function better and live better. Moving away from “custom” paved the way for more styles, expanded collections, accessories, and a flagship retail store.

Fast-forward to November 2016, we were back meeting with Southgate to bring to life our concept of a store. We didn’t rush to open the doors. We took the time to do it right—to collaborate with the right designers and makers, hire the best team, scale up production at our factories and develop store operational practices. We’re very proud of the end result.

For the store opening, we flew in Laura from Mexico to be our star guest. For over five years, Laura has been part of the Poppy Barley team. First as our translator (language and cultural) and our shoe expert, and now in the role of Mexico Operations Manager (see a play-by-play of a typical Laura-day here). This year, we also doubled the size of our team, an exciting (but also kind of scary) step. We received many applications for the new positions at Poppy Barley, but some people were already on our top-secret list of “People We’d Like To Hire”. If you’re curious, you can read about how some of the original Poppy Barley team members got their start at Poppy Barley in The Tutorial: How to Work at Poppy Barley.

Time always brings the change of seasons. This season, our Fall 2017 Collection evokes the beautiful shades of autumn with detailing perfect for cooler weather. Here, Justine takes you behind the collection to explore in detail.

Personally, this year has been measured in weeks: 12 weeks. 20 weeks. 36 weeks. Now, 4-ish weeks until my first baby arrives. As someone always pushing pace, pregnancy is a very long 9 months. It’s also very vague. You only have an 8% chance of actually giving birth on your due date. Somewhere between 38-42 weeks, I’ll have a baby. That’s a range of a WHOLE MONTH. So, sometime in September, I’ll be quietly stepping away from Poppy Barley to spend time with my baby. I’m reflecting a lot on the interviews Justine did with women entrepreneurs before having her son, Jude. My future holds a lot of juggling to keep my relationships, baby, business and self afloat. I feel confident about stepping into this new life, because the Poppy Barley team is so amazing. I suspect there will be a lot more #PoppyBarleyBabies in the future, and I can’t wait to support the people on our team as they balance life, parenthood and work.

I used to be of the mindset that intense focus would bring success. I was so fearful it wasn’t possible to have a baby, career, marriage, hobbies and friends. Time has taught me that happiness drives success—in business and life. So, I’m stepping into fall celebrating Poppy Barley, my pregnancy (and soon, baby) and a renewed sense that time is moving just the way it should.

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.