indicatorGrowth Management

ATB helps Poppy Barley minimize risks while growing internationally

By 15 June 2023 3 min read

Poppy Barley leather backpack bag

At a glance


Partner with a financial institution that understands and supports a high-growth Canadian business.


Partner with ATB Financial for financing, currency exchange, and international growth support.

The Client: Poppy Barley

Poppy Barley is a female-owned, Albertan brand providing luxury fashion for people and the planet. By rethinking every step, their sustainably made products are fairly priced and designed to be worn on repeat.

Poppy Barley Cofounders Justine and Kendall Barber
"We wanted to design boots, shoes and accessories for people like us—for people like you. People who care about comfort and style, but absolutely refuse to compromise their values of caring for the planet and people."

Kendall and Justine Barber

Co-Founders and co-CEOs of Poppy Barley

Challenge: financing a fast-growing international business

Sisters Justine and Kendall Barber founded Poppy Barley in 2012 to offer made-to-order footwear online. Since then, the company has expanded internationally with retail stores, pop-up shops, and an e-commerce store.

They are also working with new suppliers outside of Canada and managing more international currencies.

High-growth retail companies like Poppy Barley often find it difficult to access the financing solutions they need to maintain their trajectory. Most traditional banks are challenged by the risk of lending to businesses with limited hard assets. Poppy Barley needed a partner who understood both their existing debt financing and their vision for the future.

“The thing about growth,” said Kendall, “is you need to onboard your bank to believe in and fund it before it happens.”

Video: Watch: Poppy Barley's x ATB

Solution: partner with ATB Financial to minimize risks while expanding across Canada and beyond

In 2013, Poppy Barley joined ATB’s crowd-funding platform, Alberta BoostR. Justine and Kendall raised $28.5K, which was game-changing in helping them connect with Albertans who supported their new business.

By 2018, Poppy Barley entered another growth stage and became an ATB client.
ATB understands that entrepreneurs are closely tied to Alberta’s economic growth. The ATB team worked to understand our business model so they could support us as we expand across Canada and internationally,” said Justine.

Poppy Barley worked with ATB to develop a plan to support their expansion in Alberta, as well as additional locations across Canada and internationally. Along with access to capital, ATB leveraged its strategic advisory capabilities to provide:

1. Foreign currency

To help them pay their international suppliers, Poppy Barley uses ATB FX, a foreign exchange platform, to access competitive rates and manage the risks associated with buying and selling in different currencies. The platform provides a fast, secure method of sending payments, which the Poppy Barley team uses on a regular basis. To further manage market risk, they lock in exchange rates to avoid any negative impact from currency rate fluctuations.

2. Development Canada partnership

ATB’s Trade Finance team understands the risks and rewards of international growth. They brought in partners from Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide the financing Poppy Barley needed to purchase inventory. EDC provided fast and less costly financing options while helping Poppy Barley mitigate risks when working with foreign suppliers.

3. Ongoing financing

Poppy Barley received their first credit card from ATB Financial, the first financial institution to offer one. ATB has since funded improvements to its retail locations through the Canada Small Business Financing Program. During the pandemic, ATB helped Poppy Barley operate with funds from the Canada Emergency Business Account and EDC Business Credit Availability Program.

Recently, ATB has helped Poppy Barley get working capital for its online expansion into the U.S. and brick-and-mortar expansions in Vancouver and Toronto.

“ATB believes in our growth plan and provides the financing and support we need to make it happen,” said Kendall. “They always put together financing packages that are very creative to help us meet our sales goals.”

Results: growth every year

“We’ve continually gone to ATB with help for financing for growth,” said Justine. “With ATB’s help, we’ve opened stores, an office, and a warehouse. ATB has been a key player in helping us overcome challenges and believing in our growth before it even happened.”

In the future, Poppy Barley plans to expand into Eastern Canada and the U.S.

“As we look to expand, we will continue to rely on ATB for guidance into our corporate structure and banking relationships,” said Justine.

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