Mom Interviews

Nancy Traversy

Founder and CEO of Barefoot Books

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The name of our company, Barefoot Books, symbolizes a barefoot child, free to explore his or her own roots, to imagine and be creative. We take our inspiration from many different cultures and focus on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning, and sharing of the world’s diversity.

What inspired you to start your business? What did you do in your prior life?

I studied business and finance at university and then worked for Price Waterhouse, first in Toronto, Canada, and then in London, England. In 1985, having been sent home from work by a male partner at PW because I was wearing trousers (!), I decided it was time to leave to try something a bit more creative and, perhaps for me, a little less corporate and soulless. I joined a small design group in London where I learned the ropes in an entrepreneurial environment – everything from management to finance, sales, and marketing. I stayed in design for eight years until 1992, when my first daughter, Meaghan (who is now nearly 15!), was born. At the time, I felt that I had gained a strong grounding in the fundamentals of small business from my work in the design industry. I also wanted to work from home to be closer to my family and to combine my financial and business education with the management skills I had learned running small creative businesses in the early part of my career. I decided to start my own management consultancy practice helping young companies involved in the arts and media with their financial, sales, and marketing plans and was approached by Tessa Strickland, whose brother is a friend of my husband, to start a children’s publishing company. Tessa’s background was in adult publishing in large houses – Penguin and Random House – and her editorial interests focused on eastern religion and spirituality. She had three children, aged two, four, and six.

Tessa and I had both traveled extensively and shared an interest in other cultures. A Canadian by birth, I came from a family of artists and designers and loved all aspects of color, design, and the visual arts. We were both parents of small children and believed that there was a gap in the market for imaginatively written, beautifully illustrated, and impeccably produced children’s books that capture the diversity and richness of the world’s many cultures in a playful and accessible way. The thought of doing something creative and valuable, which also had something to do with children, was really enticing!

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