How P + B Came To Be

How P + B Came To Be

First off I want to say if you are reading this, THANK YOU. Seriously! From the bottom of my heart thank you for being a part of this community. I could have never imagined that three years ago this would be where Poplar + Birch is at. 

I think I always knew in the back of my mind that one day I would be a small business owner. I want to say that my many years in the fashion industry helped shape me into getting here. I had A LOT of jobs. I never really felt like I was settled. I guess you could say that I always hated working for someone else, even if they were a great boss. 

I went to college at Seneca in Toronto, Ontario. I have my diploma in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management. I had big dreams of living that city life, club hopping, high end fashion wearing, big dreams. Turns out the fashion industry is RUTHLESS. Being in the industry and living in Toronto is cut throat because there are many people out for the same job. I once showed up to a group interview at Holt Renfrew with 50 other people. Needless to say, I didn't get that one (I did later on get that coveted Holt Renfrew position).

While I was in school I really wanted to be a writer for a fashion magazine. I wanted to have my words in the likes of Elle, Vogue and Flare. I applied to an internship at Flare and I still have my rejection letter to this day stashed away. Even though I didn't get the internship I went on to do some pretty cool things. I interned at Hugo Boss, Strellson Men's Wear (Switzerland's largest menswear company) and wrote for Stylust Online Magazine ( I don't think its still around). I even was a runner up to write for Olivia Palermo's blog ( did anyone else watch The City with Whitney Port?).

My career resume was definitely one that was all over the map. I was somewhat of a dreamer but also needed to pay the bills. I worked as a bartender, a salon receptionist/buyer, a personal shopper assistant, retail, Holt Renfrew Beauty Advisor, Women's active wear buyer and store Manager, just to name a few.  All of these positions I believe lead and even helped shape me get ready for the bigger picture.

In 2015 I moved back to Kenora from Calgary. I thought I would spend a fun summer and head back to the city in the Fall. Turns out I fell in love. That's right, love kept me in my hometown. With working seasonally I knew it was time to create the job I wanted because no one was going to do it for me.

In February of 2017 I met with someone to start doing the branding I envisioned for Poplar + Birch. I also had the boutique name picked out many months before this. As the ball got rolling and I was ready to tackle this new adventure, something else happened. We found out that we were expecting a baby in November of 2017. So here I was with some branding for a business, a space, applying for loans and then trying to reroute the plan. 

I would like to say that I always wanted to be a Mom but truthfully it wasn't until I met Rob that I knew this for certain. We spoke about how a new business would look for new parents and still decided to go for it. We thought with not knowing any different, we could achieve it. So along we went. In the beginning of April we went for our dating ultrasound at 10.5 weeks to find out that I was to going miscarry with not one baby, but two. I was expecting twins and didn't know until that moment in the doctors office. Days after leaving the doctors office I ended up miscarrying. It is what is called a missed miscarriage. The babies stopped developing and time needed to run its course. 

There was a lot of sadness and anger that followed our miscarriage but with that came drive, determination and passion. I think Poplar + Birch came at a time that I truly needed it the most. A time where I had so much love to give to something so I threw myself and everything I had into it. Three years later I believe that this business has been successful because it is fuelled with love and passion. There is so much purpose behind everything I do for this shop and I always want that to be seen.

I believe Poplar + Birch didn't just happen on a whim but was a long time coming. I believe I had many years of notes in the back of mind for my someday business. Three years later I am so glad I made the scary leap and ran towards the roar. If I could give you one piece of advice. if you are wanting to start something, start now. Don't wait. It will be scary but the scary things are the ones that are the most worth it. It won't be perfect, it definitely won't be easy but it will be so worth it.

Happy Three Years to my "maybe one day" business.

With Love and Grace,



Jun 23, 2020

Thank you for sharing your truth, you are an inspiration Ash! Congratulations!

Jun 22, 2020

Oh Ash, I didn’t know. I’m so sorry for your loss💔 I remember when you told me you were thinking of starting Poplar and Birch and I was so excited for you, and Kenora! You’ve accomplished so much, and I’m so very proud of you xo

Nola R
Jun 22, 2020

Aw Ash, I had no idea ❤️ I’m so sorry for everything you & Rob went though but I’m so happy that all of your hard work paid off and now your fabulous store is three years old. Stay strong, my friend and here’s to the next ten years

Kristen Boucha
Jun 22, 2020

You’re guys are an incredible team and a force to be reckoned with! Keep crushing it miss… soon to be Mrs… Kenora is so lucky to have you! Xo 🥰

Kayla B
Jun 22, 2020

Love everything about this post💕 congratulations on taking the leap and hitting year 3!!

Jun 22, 2020

What an amazingly honest and open accounting of your journey to where you are now. You’ve channeled heartache into purpose – the love and passion evident – but also with an elegance and grace beyond your years that evokes a sense of peace and balance to those who enter your oasis! Thank you Ashley 💕

Carrie H.
Jun 22, 2020

Truly beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your journey! Happy Birthday!! ❤️

Meghan Spanninga
Jun 22, 2020

Thanks for sharing such a personal, inspirational story! Happy birthday P&B!

Joelle Katona

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