Now that our Oxford Studio is up and running, we’d like to share with you some of the unique products and services we offer at our new location. We asked Louisa Maybury*, who sells an eclectic mix of ethnic pieces from South Asia in the Studio, to tell us a little more about herself and her products. In her words…

I was thrilled when Fiona Ross, who I had known in her previous incarnation as an English teacher to both my daughters, invited me to be a part of the Barefoot Books Studio in Oxford. I knew instinctively that any project she was involved in would be an inspiring, child-centric venture.

Walking into the Barefoot Books Studio reminded me of when my daughters were young and how fortunate mum’s today are to have access to such a wonderful resource. I was impressed by the colourful and calm environment that had been created. As someone who was trained as a primary school teacher specialising in art, you can imagine my delight at being included in this enterprise.

The cart I showcase my products on is colourful and vibrant—reflecting and celebrating the tales and traditions of faraway places and diverse cultures. It is the perfect display for my products. I like to think that the selection perfectly complements Barefoot Books’ philosophy of giving children insight into other cultures.

The products I offer at the Studio range from beautiful, hand-stitched Kantha quilts and shawls from West Bengal and Bangladesh to tin trunks and stuffed animals. The quilts and shawls are made from salvaged cloth from used garments. They are stitched together by women as gifts for births, weddings and other significant occasions.

The decorated, hand-painted tin trunks are inspired by the highly popular tradition of Pakistani men customising their trucks and buses. Painted with folk art motifs such as birds, flowers and poetry, these colourful trunks are perfect for a child’s bedroom.

The stuffed animals piled on top of the cart were created by a London based designer. When he was collecting quilts made by nomadic women from Pakistan and Western India, he discovered damaged pieces. Instead of discarding the quilts, he decided to recycle them and make toys for his young daughter, and later a line of toys for other children. They have become a great success story, giving work to nomadic men from a snake charmer sect now settled in Karachi.

I am sure this storytelling adventure will be hugely successful and I wish it the very best of luck.

* Louisa spent two years working in India with artisans producing many beautiful items including clothing, home wares and accessories. She has her own shop in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

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