How I Made It

Kendall Barber, Accessory Brand Co-Founder

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Kendall has? Here's how she did it

Kendall Barber posing in a white blouse

Kendall Barber; Edmonton; @KendallBarber


Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

Poppy Barley [co-founded with sister Justine Barber] designs shoes and accessories for women who don’t have time for sore feet. Our customer is kicking ass in life, no matter what she’s doing—whether that’s at work, on the road, or at play. She needs shoes that look polished, but feel good on her feet. And we ethically manufacture all of our goods in Leon, Mexico.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I have a bachelor of commerce from the University of Victoria.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I was a business analyst, assisting in the commercialization/start-up of student technology-based companies.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

We’re still waiting for it… Rather than one big break, it’s been a series of crashing into walls until we figured out how to build a metaphorical trampoline to jump over them.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

When I started filling my life with balance (again); it was a sign of confidence in the business, the people and the product.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

My biggest shortcoming was confidence; I always wanted to learn from someone else—a mentor, a boss, a been-there-done-it person. Now, I’m practicing the balance of listening to others, but mostly listening and believing in myself.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Take risks on yourself. Pay close attention to the work you do first and note what projects sit on your desk the longest. Create a career around the work you always do first.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

To take positions to build your resume.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Yes. I’ve had a man ask me what will happen to Poppy Barley once Justine [Kendall’s business partner and sister] and I start having babies. A man would never be asked such a ridiculous question.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it.

Yes, I make a fair income. And besides employing ourselves, we have 12 full-time employees.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That millennials are lazy; they’re not. In my experience, their motivation for work is simply different. They want to know the “why” behind the work they do, and they want their contributions to be meaningful to the company, the community and the planet.

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