Nancy Traversy – Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books co-founder Nancy Traversy speaks to

by Yolanda Edwards

We love everything about Barefoot Books–it’s multi-culti point of view, the beautiful illustrations, and the books with accompanying narrating CDs keep kids occupied for hours. According to my daughter Clara, “They’re educational, and they look pretty and they’re fun.” We were lucky enough to catch up with Nancy, one of the founders.

Barefoot Books is such a category breaker, in our minds, kind of akin to  Anthropologie or Pier 1 bringing the beyond-the-western world into people’s home lives. We’d love to know your background!  I am mum to four pretty special children – Meaghan, Kristen, Erin and Jordie – best friend and soul mate to my husband, Marty, and passionate entrepreneur. I have been living Barefoot for nearly 20 years, my kids have all grown up Barefoot and the boundaries between my home life and Barefoot life are pretty blurred.

I was born in Canada into a family with a bit of an artistic bent. Though I love all aspects of color, design and illustration, I also quite like numbers and somehow ended up with a business degree and a job in Price Waterhouse in London after graduating. I really didn’t quite fit the mould there, so soon left to work in a more artistic environment in a London design house. I stayed in the design industry for many years, where I got to travel often to the Far East and learned lots about all aspects of running an entrepreneurial creative company.  
When I met my co-founder of Barefoot Books, Tessa Strickland, in 1992, my eldest daughter Meaghan was three weeks old and I had just started my own management consulting firm advising small creative start-ups. As a new mum and an avid explorer of world cultures, I was immediately captivated by the idea of publishing books for children that celebrated diversity and imagination. I 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. Over the next eight years, I had three more children and ran Barefoot from my home in north London. My kids were always around and actively involved in testing stories, picking artists and generally helping out. In 2001, we decided to cross the Atlantic so I could be closer to our North American business. Since then, I’ve lived in Concord, MA with my husband, four children, three cats and lots of color!


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