Poppy Barley screens all its factories for positive working conditions, including a living wage (Poppy Barley pays, on average, six times the region’s minimum wage), full-time permanent employment with health care and pension benefits, fair working hours, paid vacation and sick leave, and ongoing training and opportunity. We work closely with our factory partners, and maintain ongoing and open communication with the people who make our products. We build long-term relationships with all our factories and provide consistent work, rather than changing suppliers to find the cheapest contracts for manufacturing. This helps our factories provide permanent, secure employment and allows us to produce high quality products with longevity. As we continue to grow our operations, we have begun the process of looking for additional factories and artisans to produce our footwear and leather accessories. To maintain the quality of our products, while also ensuring that our workers are paid and treated fairly for their work, we established a checklist and questionnaire for vetting prospective factory partners.
How We Vet Prospective Factories
All Poppy Barley factories are screened with the following Code of Conduct tool.
Furthermore, we screen factories by visiting the factory, interviewing the factory owner and select employees, and by auditing a random selection of payroll and personnel files.
Factory Code of Conduct Tool
- Do the factories employ anyone younger than 16?
- What is the employment structure of their employees?
- What is the average wage paid to a shoemaker? Is this before or after tax?
- If a shoemaker is paid by piece, on average, how many hours per week does the shoemaker need to work to reach the average wage as provided above?
- Do employees receive any benefits other than wages (e.g. health, employment insurance etc. including benefits mandated by the government)? If yes, please detail.
- What hours and days of the week do shoemakers work? What is the minimum vacation provided?
- Is overtime voluntary or mandatory?
- Does the Factory use any forced or trafficked labour?
- Do all employees have the right to enter into and to terminate their employment agreements?
- Are employees subject to any of the following harassment, abuse and disciplinary practices?
- Physical violence
- Verbal violence
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual harassment
- How structurally sound is the building? Has it had any recent inspections?
- How often are the production machinery, equipment, and factory tools tested and maintained?
- Does the factory have clear fire exits and is it equipped to deal with a fire as required by law?
- Has there been any major accidents in the five years? (major being described as causing a non-trivial injury)
- Are any of their tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group? If yes, what is their level of certification (gold, silver or bronze)?
- Where do the cows come from to make the leather (country and region of origin)?
- Do any of the tanneries offer vegetable tanning?
- What happens to the by-products that result from making the leather (the chemicals leftover and the water)? Are the chemicals removed from the water? How are the chemicals stored? Is the water cleaned and recycled?
- Are you aware of any legislation in this area that guides the behaviour of tanneries (For example in Mexico by law tanneries must clean and recycle the water they use)?
- Please provide any other information about the environmental or sustainable practices of the tanneries.
The Poppy Barley Factory Code of Conduct Tool was developed based on the International Labour Organization core labour standards and the laws in the countries where we operate. These are the minimum requirements we seek from all factories.
Where It All Started
Poppy Barley began its manufacturing in León, a city of two million people located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, approximately three hours north of Mexico City. While we have also expanded our production to ethical and sustainable factories in Brazil, many of our products are still made in León. Often referred to as “The Shoe Capital of the World,” León has been making shoes since 1645, and it is this centuries-old history of craftsmanship that, after a global search—from Argentina to Italy and China—convinced us to set up production there. León’s thriving footwear industry has attracted many immigrants from Italy, Spain and Argentina over the years, and the result is a vibrant fusion of food, culture, and the best practices in shoemaking.
A 36 km Supply Chain
León has one of the world’s leading footwear manufacturing clusters: all of the necessary production supplies are concentrated within a 36 km radius. The city holds 3,394 shoe manufacturers, 388 leather goods manufacturers, 300 suppliers (machinery, outsoles, textiles, synthetic materials, glues, fittings, etc.), and 696 tanneries. The city of León, and the partnerships with our factories, makes it possible for Poppy Barley to bring our customers the highest quality materials and what we believe to be the most comfortable footwear in the world.
Meet Our Factories
Lupita’s Footwear Factory
LOCATION: León, MEXICO Number of employees: 22 Year established: 1996
The Owner This factory was founded twenty years ago by Lupita. Poppy Barley co-founders Kendall and Justine Barber serendipitously met Lupita when their shoe broker’s 12-year old daughter came home and reported her best friend’s mom (Lupita) was willing to meet these crazy women from Canada, who started with the dream of doing made to order footwear.
The Factory Lupita recruited all of her shoemakers from the sample rooms of León’s top manufacturers. (It is in the sample rooms of larger factories where the first prototype of every new shoe style is handcrafted before it is mass-produced by an assembly line.) The artisans have decades of experience in shoemaking, having launched their careers when it was still the norm to make shoes entirely by hand.
Fernando’s Footwear Factory
LOCATION: León, MEXICO Number of employees: 100 Year established: 2006
The Owner This factory was established by Fernando ten years ago. While Fernando’s factory is large and capable of producing 8,000 pairs of shoes per week, his lifelong dream has been to own a small, high-end factory that focuses on top quality materials, small-batch manufacturing and the art of shoemaking. This is where Poppy Barley comes in…
The Factory Fernando and Poppy Barley have developed a small cell of highly skilled artisans dedicated to the development and manufacturing of Poppy Barley’s footwear. Fernando’s offers all employees a daily free hot lunch.
José and Maria’s Leather Bag Factory
LOCATION: León, MEXICO Number of employees: 55 Year established: 1989
The Owner Husband-and-wife-team José and Maria moved from Spain to Mexico in 1989 to create a better life for their family. Making handbags in their kitchen, they invested $2000 USD to buy a leather-cutting table, a used sewing machine and a trip to L.A. to purchase sheepskin imported from Europe. Nowadays their son Sebastian is in training to take over the family business.
The Factory The vision was (and continues to be) to make the highest quality products. Today, this factory is recognized as the top handbag producer in Mexico. Today, they produce all of Poppy Barley's bags, including cult favourites the Backpack, Hobo Tote and Saddlebag. In 2018 the factory installed solar panels on the roof and now run on 100% solar power (taking advantage of the fact that Leon is one of the sunniest places in the world.)
Luciano + Helio's Sandals Factory
LOCATION: Igrejinha, BRAZIL Number of employees: 43 Year established: 1979
Founded in 1979, this sandal factory was founded by two brothers, Luciano and Helio Nantal in the Brazilian city of Igrejinha. Calling on the knowledge and expertise they amassed over the years working in large-scale shoe factories, the brothers chose to start their own small quality, oriented footwear factory in the region. Igrejinha is part of an expansive and established footwear industry in the South of Brazil, dating back to German shoemakers settling in the region as early as 1824. Today, Poppy Barley’s sandals and heels are made here, including the iconic Meghan Cut-out.
Teles Family’s Boot Factory
LOCATION: Novo Hamburgo, BRAZIL Number of employees: 55 Year established: 1999
This boot factory is a family-owned and operated footwear business run by Nilo Cesar Teles, his wife Sorli and daughter Carolina, who each lead different departments in their skillset. Founded in 1999, Teles specializes in the production of leather footwear, including our highly sought-after V Ankle Boot.