Join me live this Friday at 1pm EST (10am PST) on 411Voices. This week’s guest is Nancy Traversy, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Barefoot Books.
Nancy spent her childhood on the move with her family from army base to army base across Canada, living in obscurely named places like ‘Chilliwack’ and ‘Petawawa.’ So, when the time came for her to launch her career in the mid-eighties it was pretty easy for her to move across the world to England. She came from a family who liked to design, paint and create and discovered her own love of colour and design in her mid twenties. Bizarrely she also loved numbers and ended up with a business degree and a job in Price Waterhouse in London. Not quite fitting the mould there, she left in 1986 to work in a more artistic environment in a small design house in Covent Garden. She remained in the design industry for seven years where she learned the ropes of running a creative entrepreneurial business and, in the late eighties, made her first acquisition of a graphic design company from Richard Branson’s Virgin Communications Group. During this time, she was travelling frequently on business trips to the Far East and developed her passion for world culture and travel.
When her eldest daughter was born in 1992, Nancy started her own consultancy practice helping small creative start ups. She met Tessa Strickland and together they launched Barefoot Books with the help of Margaret Thatcher’s Business Expansion Scheme. As a new mum and an avid explorer of world cultures, she was immediately captivated by the idea of publishing books for children that celebrated diversity and imagination. She didn’t really know much about the publishing industry back then and, in hindsight, that was probably lucky as Barefoot has always strived to be more of a pioneer than a follower.
‘Creating high quality children’s books and bringing them to market in the traditional, yet rapidly changing, publishing industry is certainly not without its challenges.’ Nancy says. ‘We have really had to think out-of-the-box commercially to survive and thrive, while staying true to the core values on which Barefoot Books was founded nearly two decades ago.’
Over the next eight years, Nancy had three more children and ran Barefoot from her home in north London. Her kids were always around and actively involved in testing stories, picking artists and generally helping out. In 2001, she decided to cross the Atlantic to be closer to Barefoot’s North American business. Since then, she travels frequently to Europe and makes her home in Concord, MA with her husband, four children, now 19, 17, 16 and 14, three cats and lots of colour!
Have a question for Nancy? Give us a call at (619) 639-4656 during the show.
Join us live Friday, November 11th at 1pm EST (10am PST) on 411Voices.