Integrity is a hallmark of a great leader and Kyle Smitley epitomizes integrity. This young female entrepreneur has integrity at the core of her business and it’s actually what prompted her to start Barley & Birch. The origins go back to her summer internship in Washington, D.C. when she was asked by an owner of a clothing boutique to do research on various companies’ claims of being organic/green.

Her research quickly showed that many of the organic kids clothing companies were using harsh chemicals in the fabrics and adornments or using overseas production facilities that weren’t environmentally friendly. It was these inconsistencies that drove her decision to start a company producing a line of children’s clothing that is safe – both for the children and for the environment. She wants to assure customers that they are getting the true value for their money.

All of Barley & Birch clothing is made with certified organic cotton and water-based inks that don’t pollute the environment. Kyle supports the American economy and reduces the carbon footprint by having all manufacturing done in the US. The Barley & Birch clothing are approved by Green America.

Social responsibility is another core value for the company. Kyle has consistently donated at least 15% of her profits to worthy organizations that she trusts and respects. Her commitment is so strong that she’s determined to change the world by reinventing what it means to be a responsible business. She has funded many projects ranging from sustainable agricultural education to rural farmers to support for abuse victims. Her first full initiative was focused on a children’s home and school in Port au Prince, Haiti.

Armed with a cause to make safe clothing for children and to improve the lives of others around the world, at the age of 22, Kyle actually launched Barley & Birch during her first year of law school. Without any apparel experience or knowledge,but with dogged determination, she has claimed this gap in the market.

Unsurprisingly she met with resistance when she approached banks for funding. Then she found Accion, a microfinancing organization, which lent her $10,000 to get started. Accion fit perfectly with Kyle’s pay-it-forward approach because the interest she paid on her loan went to funding other people’s loans.

Starting a business can be challenging and can be even more so when you are so young and without a track record. When it comes to starting a business, here are Kyle’s top 3 tips:

1. My dad told me, ‘You really need to look and plan out exactly how much money you need.’ I didn’t listen, started too low and ended up working crazy hours. Whatever you think you’ll need, double it.

2. As a young entrepreneur with no experience, I was a sitting duck. There were people that either didn’t take me seriously or wanted to take my money.

3. Do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Bagyura, creator of The Powder Puff Guide To Starting A Business, guides women through their fears, doubts and don’t-know-how-to’s of starting a business to confidently and successfully starting a business. Please go to to register for an upcoming webinar with Susan and Kyle.