Our First Blog Post

Our First Blog Post

A while back I was interviewed by the women from The Atelier Collective. Here is the interview we did and a little bit of insight to who I am as well as Poplar + Birch.
Also welcome to our Blog!! This blog will host vendor spotlights, fashion tips, tricks and inspiration, food, travel, beauty and be an all around lifestyle hub. So welcome, it has been a long time coming. Grab a coffee and have a read.
The Atelier: What is your current role?
Ashley: My name is Ashley and I am the owner of a brick and mortar shop called Poplar + Birch. We recently launched online so I guess we aren’t just a little brick and mortar anymore. My role is everything from social media manager, buyer, professional problem solver, salesperson…the list keeps going. It’s definitely a blessing to get to do what I do and to never have it feel like a job, but more of a dream come true.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey leading up to today?
Being raised in a small town I had always dreamed of working in the fashion industry. I can remember in grade three when we got to pick books from the school book fair I chose one that was about Nicky Taylor the fashion model. What kid picks that? I guess from a young age I knew I wanted to do something that had to do with fashion. A year after high school I went away to Seneca College for Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management. Living in Toronto opened up my eyes to so the many jobs that are in the fashion industry. While I was in school I thought that I wanted to work for a magazine. Isn’t that every fashion girls dream? I applied to Flare Canada for an internship and was rejected, I still have the letter as fuel for my fire. It was then I realized I needed to develop a thick skin for this cut throat industry. I worked many jobs in the industry, everything from Fit Model, Internships, Sales at the coveted Holt Renfrew, Writing for small fashion blogs, Personal Shoppers Assistant, Social Media Manager and even a Buyer. It truly was working all these jobs that helped with the knowledge and ability I now have. It was moving back to my small lake town that I knew if I wanted my dream job, I needed to create it. My shop has been many years in the making, lots of notes in my phone, talking it out with my partner, family and friends, numerous cries, and just taking a risk. A year later, I am happy I took that risk.
What has inspired you over the years?
Travel, fashion, music and the people in my life. 
Have you had any mentors?
I wouldn’t say that I have had any mentors in my life. However, I have so many incredible people in my life who inspire me daily and that may just be better than any mentor. I look up to the women I know and when I see them doing great things, it pushes me to do more. When you are surrounded with like-minded, unique and ambitious women you feed off of one another and great things come from that. The Instagram community is also filled with so many talented, amazing people who are always the most helpful and supportive. 
What are your top 3 favourite career / business moments?
Hands down the day I opened the shop was one of the best days. All the nerves went away and there was just a sense of ease. The support I received that day and every day after is something I will always be so grateful for. 
The day I was hired at Holt Renfrew was a pretty amazing day. Not because of all that Holts encompasses but more because for years I had applied. I swear I must have applied over a hundred times and literally to any of the ones in Canada. I once had a group interview with 50 others, I didnt get it that time either. I felt a little deflated after so many tries. I had moved out to Calgary and was looking for work, there was a job at Holts so I thought I would apply knowing in my head that I probably wouldnt get it. Well the day after I applied I received a call for an interview and was hired on the spot. I guess it was at that moment where I realized if I wanted something bad enough and kept on pushing, it would happen. 
When I had the AHA moment that it was no longer who I knew in the business that would further my career but it was who I was and my experience that was going to get me where I needed to be.
What was the biggest challenge you've faced so far?
Owning your own business and being solely responsible for the success or demise can weigh heavily on your shoulders. It takes a lot of dedication, passion and heart to make your business work. As a small business we are up against huge box stores and the internet that are challenging us every day. Cheaper pricing and more options.  There are bigger stores and online options that have similar products so it’s about making your business and the experience stand out. It’s educating people that the more local shopping or shopping from small businesses the better for the economy. 
Do you think personal development has played an important part in your story?
100%. Without growth and change, I wouldn’t be here. I would most likely be working for someone else, unhappy. 
I needed to learn the lessons in my twenties. I needed to become resilient, confident, motivated and to learn that I am my greatest resource. I believe that personal development is a continuous journey. It helps you set clearer goals and are far more motivated for the things that you want in both your personal life as well as your career.

If you could pass along any words of wisdom to fellow ambitious women in business, what would they be?
-When opportunity knocks, answer! Say yes to everything. You truly only regret the opportunities you didn’t take. 
-Enjoy the journey and do not focus so much on the destination. The destination is a moving target as you grow and there is so much more excitement in that.
-Most importantly BELIEVE in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Own it. 
What's your next stop on your bucket list?
A lot more travel. I truly believe as corny as it is, that it is the only thing that makes you richer. I also believe that it helps a person grow and learn, not only about the places you go but also about yourself. I think the more I travel, the more I know what I want in life. So definitely more travel on the bucket list. I also hope that one day in the future there can be a
Poplar + Birch in house clothing line for both mamas and their littles. 
Nov 08, 2018

So good Ashley!

Nov 08, 2018


Thank you for taking the meal to make your dreams come true! I absolutely love Polar & Birch it has quickly become my favourite place to shop and that says a lot cause I despise shopping. The experience is always comforting and wonderful and I know I’ll go home with not only something that fits but that I love! You and your shop are an inspiration to me and I love the community that you are a part of. Hoping that one day I’ll be joining the amazing force of women in business. Keep being awesome you’re doing great!

Nov 08, 2018

Loved to read how you came to be where you are today. Continued success in all you do!❤️

Jeannette McKinlay

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