I wanted to introduce you to Beth, a very dear friend of mine, who just happens to be my Alpha Phi Omega Little Brother (yes, she is a girl- we were a part of a co-ed service fraternity). So obviously, she is an amazing person, with an adorable family, and now she has a terrific new business to tell you about. Enjoy this interview all about Barefoot Books!
Tell us about you and your family!
I’m a full time working mom of one silly toddler (Ian), married to my high school sweetheart (Jon). My husband and I have known each other since we were in elementary school, but we didn’t start dating until our senior year of high school. We both went to Virginia Tech together for college, and he proposed shortly after we graduated. We got married in August of 2009 and have been living in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH, for close to 5 years (but I still consider Virginia to be “home”). Our sweet boy came into our life in October 2012, and things have never been the same since! He is always keeping us on our toes and making us laugh. I can’t even imagine what we did before he was part of our family. He loves to play soccer outside with us and snuggle into my lap with a few good books. He’s starting to talk and develop a very distinct personality of his own, which is so much fun to see!
I love all things crafty- scrapbooking, cardmaking, sewing, crocheting. Even though I’m not an expert by any means, I love to get absorbed in a creative project! I also love home DIY projects- my husband and I installed our own tile in the kitchen and bamboo floor in our main level. We’re also putting the finishing touches on a shed. Sometimes we get a bit too ambitious for our own good, but it’s always a learning experience! I started my own blog about a month ago (http://beingfrankenfield.com) and use it as a way to document our life and our various adventures in parenting, DIYing, and more. I’m hoping to grow it more as time passes, and I’m so grateful to Dory for giving me this opportunity to speak about myself, my family, and Barefoot Books!
What is Barefoot Books?
Barefoot Books is the brainchild of Nancy Travery and Tessa Strickland. Founded in 1992, the aim of Barefoot Books is to create bright, colorful books for children that combine beautiful artwork with captivating storytelling. So many of the books have educational components (such as end notes or study guides), and almost all celebrate or encourage cultural, social, and/or ecological diversity. This is one of the things that really sets Barefoot Books apart from other children’s books- the wide range of cultures and stories represented. Combined with the outstanding quality, they truly create products that are hard to beat!
What ages is Barefoot Books suitable for?
Barefoot Books offers products for ages 0-14. The majority tend to be targeted towards babies through about 7, but there are some great titles (and other products) for the kids at the higher end of the age range, which Barefoot labels as “Independent Readers”. For example, I am really excited about the Greek Mythology line of books (ages 8+) and the three Inuk Quartet Books (The Shipwreck, The Raiders, and The Snowstorm; ages 10+). There are also a lot of books that are rated for all ages; they can be read together with younger children and really grow well with the child. A good example is the “Barefoot Books World Altas”. The pictures are amazing, and there is so much information on each page- and it even comes with an app for the iPad!
What kind of products are available?
Obviously, Barefoot Books specializes in children’s books, but that’s not all that’s available! There are also activity books, puzzles, puppets, and board games. I love that a lot of the images and characters from the books are carried over into these other products; it makes the books very interactive and helps reinforce concepts introduced in the stories.
How did you find out about Barefoot Books?
I subscribe to Citrus Lane, which is a monthly (mail) subscription box for kids 0-5, and I received my first Barefoot Book in my second Citrus Lane box. We got “Bear Takes a Trip”, and it was an instant hit. The pictures are so colorful and really interesting, and there is SO MUCH STUFF to see on each page. I also love that it will grow with Ian; the overriding concept is learning to tell time which, obviously, at 20 months (or 9 months, when we got the book) is too advanced for him, but I can definitely see stressing that aspect as we continue to read this as he gets older.
What made you want to start selling Barefoot Books?
We own 5 Barefoot Books titles (“Bear Takes a Trip,” “Animal Boogie,” “Starlight Sailor,” “Cleo’s Color Book,” and “Cleo in the Snow”), and I love every single one. The pictures are fantastic, and I love the learning aspect to each book. Ian also really enjoys them, as they seem to be constantly part of his book rotation. I’d never seen these books in stores, so I went to the Barefoot Books website to see where I could buy them (the answer: in the Boston or Oxford store, or online/through an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador). This is the first time I’d heard of the ambassador program, and I was really intrigued. I did some researching and weighing of pros/cons (namely trying to determine if I’d have enough time to truly devote to this) and finally decided to take the plunge. I know that a lot of my friends and family have never heard of Barefoot Books, so this seemed like the perfect way to introduce them to some really fantastic books and help build my own library!
What is your favorite book that you’ve found so far?
Oh, gosh- so many. I will always have a place in my heart for our first ever Barefoot Book (“Bear Takes a Trip”) because it’s what introduced us to the company and the entire line of Barefoot Books. My favorite seems to change as soon as I see a new title, but my favorite at the moment is probably “Out of the Blue.” It’s a new release that is wordless, so it encourages the reader to supply their own story. It also has educational endnotes about marine life, lighthouses, and other beach-related topics.
How can I purchase books through Barefoot Books?
If you live in Boston, MA or Oxford, UK, you can go to the Barefoot Books store. Otherwise, your best bet is to locate an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador, like me! All ambassadors have an online marketplace where you can place an order yourself. You can access my marketplace at: bethbfb.barefootbooks.com. I’m also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BethBarefootBooks. If you are loving a lot of books and are starting to see that subtotal climb, you might want to consider hosting a Barefoot Books party. This would allow you to receive some discounts and/or free books. Parties can range from a simple online party (with an open ordering window and not much else fanfare) to “live” Facebook party to a home party where you invite your friends (and their kids, if you want) and get a chance to see and experience the books in person. The benefit of having a party and working with an ambassador, instead of just buying directly online, is that you get to hear their recommendations and gain some additional background and insight into the books, and you also receive a host(ess) gift! The parties are a lot of fun, and it’s a product that a lot of people can feel good about buying.
How much can I expect to spend? What is shipping?
Most books range from $6 to about $13, depending on the format, age level, etc. Some, such as hardbacks or those with story CDs will tend to be a little more expensive, closer to $20. Shipping costs can vary. My customers that order through me directly (not through my marketplace website online) either one-on-one or via a party receive free shipping. This is fairly standard practice for ambassadors, but it’s not guaranteed, so you’ll want to make sure you ask. Orders placed on the Barefoot Books website through your ambassador’s marketplace that are under $60 are subject to a shipping charge that is computed by the company and varies based on weight/size of the order. All orders over $60 ship for free!
Is there anything else we should know?
Barefoot Books is extremely enthusiastic about charitable causes and fundraisers. There are a lot of schools that do their book fairs (both order-form based and cash/carry based) through Barefoot Books, which is a great way to get fantastic books into the hands of little readers while earning free books for the classrooms/library! Some schools also choose to donate some of their free gifts to underprivileged groups and schools, which is really neat! Outside of schools, though, your Barefoot Books ambassador can help you fundraise for just about anything- from donating to a charity to raising funds for a local community group. You just explain your goals to your ambassador, agree to the profit sharing terms, and begin planning the event together. There have been a lot of very successful fundraisers done through Barefoot. I love that the company encourages their ambassadors to reach out to the community, get involved, and give back!
If someone is interested in becoming a Barefoot Books Ambassador, what do they do?
If you’re interested in learning how you can become a Barefoot Books Ambassador and share these great products with your community, send me an email (ehfrankenfield *at* gmail.com) or a Facebook message. I’d love to tell you all about it!
Thank you so much, Beth, for letting us know more about Barefoot Books! I can’t wait to get my own books for Audrey and David!