Federal finance minister to wear Edmonton company's shoes for Wednesday budget

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Federal finance minister to wear Edmonton company's shoes for Wednesday budget

An Edmonton-based business selling high-end shoes and accessories has been chosen to provide shoes for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau when he delivers his budget on Wednesday.

Poppy Barley Shoes sold Morneau a pair of its black Edmonton Oxford shoes.

"It's the dressiest shoe we have," Caroline Gault, the company's director of content and community, said Monday.

On its website, Poppy Barley says the calf-skin Edmonton Oxford is for buyers who "mean business." The shoe is "perfect for the groom — or the boss," the description says.

Morneau's off-the-shelf pair cost $250, but custom orders of the same style sell for $398.

It's traditional for the finance minister to wear a new pair of shoes when delivering the budget to the House of Commons.

Gault said the company received the surprise request in an email from Morneau's office last week.

"They were really excited to find a company that had ethical manufacturing, female founded, and Canadian and it just really fit to announce the budget this year," she said.

Local success story

Poppy Barley was founded by sisters Kendall and Justine Barber as an online startup company in Edmonton in 2012.

Now the company has a showroom on Whyte Avenue and pop-up stores in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.

The company makes all its shoes in Leon, Mexico with locally-sourced leather.

"It's really a unique story — Edmonton to Mexico," said Gault. "It's not your … made in Italy, based in New York story."

She said the company is thrilled to have Morneau sport the shoes and the national exposure that comes with that.

"We're constantly trying to get our shoes in fashion spreads and that kind of thing," she said.

But having the finance minister in their shoes will attract a different kind of customer, she said.

"It's about business, it's about entrepreneurship, and it's about women in business as well, so I think that's really exciting," she said.

Not stepping into political hot water

Gault isn't worried about any political fallout in Alberta for cladding the feet of a Liberal cabinet minister, even though the vast majority of Alberta MPs are Conservatives.

"I don't think there's anything negative about that," she said. "It's about what we're doing, it's about the footwear and it's about Canadian business, and I don't think there can be any fault in that."

Gault laughed when asked if the same would hold true if U.S. President Donald Trump were to contact them about ordering their shoes.

"I don't know about that one actually," she said. "That one might be a different conversation."