Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Meet the Maker: Mitali Peckham of Baby Treasures

In September 2012, I held a crafts fair to raise money for the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrookes in Cambridge. One of the stall holders, Mitali, was happy to take part in 'Meet the Maker.' Here is what she is sharing with us.
Firstly, two very important questions.

Tea or coffee?
Tea – without milk, actually just hot water with a tea bag briefly dunked in.

Biscuit or cake? 
Jaffa cakes – somewhere in the middle!

So, tell us a bit about yourself. 
My name is Mitali Peckham and when I am not busy with my four wonderful children I run my business called Baby Treasures – a unique collection of handmade personalised gifts for babies and children. My children all go to school in Cambridge and I am a parent governor at one school and work as a learning mentor at another. There is occasionally time to do the hoovering and hang the washing out!

...and what about the item that you are sharing with us? 
Baby Treasures signature design – my washable fabric photo books. Customers send me a selection of photographs which are special for their little one and captions to go alongside each photograph and I create a child-friendly photo book for them. The photos and captions are printed onto fabric and then pages are sewn together with fleece lining in the middle. When the pages are finished they are then sewn together to produce the book. It was really important to me that the book had a soft, cuddly feel to it so that it would be appealing to little ones and I also spent a long time sourcing the perfect fabric which I could print on and which would be washable. I wanted the books to at least be washable by hand so that their owners can enjoy browsing through them without anyone feeling stressed if they need cleaning. I started making photo books a little bit like this when my eldest child was very young – he (like all babies & young children, I think) loved looking at photos of himself and his family / friends and most especially photographs which included him in photos of his loved ones. Originally I made family photo albums and then the concept extended to fabric books telling my children’s life stories. What I enjoy enormously about making photo books for other people is seeing how they use the idea to create such imaginative little books – some people include photos of family who live abroad so their child can feel close to them, some people document a particular special event like the arrival of a sibling or a birthday and some people just include pictures of objects / places which are important to their child. Someone has approached me recently about creating a fabric book which tells a story they have made up for their child which I think sounds wonderful. I like my photo books for being an unusual way of sharing photographs with children – there are so many similar products which work in the adult world but not any that are child-friendly. But most of all I like that every photo book I make is important to the child it is made for because it is made especially for them.

How long have you been sewing and how did you learn? 
I suppose my Mum taught me really - she helped me make clothes etc. when I was a teenager but I think I started creating more things when I began teaching and wanted to design my own resources to support various classroom activities. Once I had my own children I made them no end of things – cuddly toys / story sacks from their favourite stories, books from their curtain material, Christmas stockings large enough for them to fit into etc. which I made up as I went along really!

When did you start Baby Treasures and why? 
I began selling my designs formally a couple of years ago – lots of friends had encouraged me in the past to go into business selling some of the things I’d made for my own children and I’d always wanted to have a go. I also think it is lovely for little children to be able to enjoy photos in a format which is child-friendly so I wanted to make the concept available to other little children as well as my own.

What inspires and motivates you? 
I love the idea of little babies and children being surrounded by objects which are very meaningful to them and make them feel cosy & loved and I’m inspired by knowing how much my own children loved the things I made them. Motivation is easy to come by when customers come back with stories about how their little one carries their photo book with them everywhere they go or can’t sleep without their comfort blanket I have made ☺

Any crafting heroes? 
More business heroes really, a range of people who have managed to take the seed of an idea that was precious to them and turn it into a reality that other people want to buy into. For example? Julie Deane of the Cambridge Satchel Company or Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker of Not on the High Street.

Do you have a crafting space? 
I work in my kitchen at my beautiful large granite island! In an ideal world I would love a room to work in but we couldn’t manage that so instead we installed a large island which doubles as a cutting table and there is enough room to cook one side, do homework at another side and I can still carry on working. There are cupboards with all my stock and equipment underneath so even though I can’t leave everything out all the time, everything is still very easy to access.

Any big plans for 2013? 
To work on the next stage of my patent application for my photo books – its been a great learning curve as I have no experience in this field but I am keen to lay my claim to my concept if I can!!

So can we join you in your virtual world? 
Please do! Visit www.babytreasures.eu where you can design your own fabric photo book by uploading your photos and text and choosing the colour of the text and the hanging ribbon. Or go to www.facebook.com/babytreasures www.twitter.com/MitaliPeckham

Here are some quick fire questions that we are dying to know the answers to.

Favourite colour? 
Duck egg blue / turquoise – my turquoise coat makes it easy for the children to find me in the playground!

The best season? 
Summer – light evenings, kids playing in the garden, no need to wear gloves .... need I say more?

Your favourite food? 
My parents’ curries

The best day of the week? 
Saturday - when I don’t have to rush around 4 schools to drop off the kids and can have a lie in!

What is the best word? 
Unity (in diversity) – if everyone in the world truly tried to uphold this principle & work together while respecting others’ differences & opinions, the world would be a better place ☺

Favourite place?
Sitting in front of our fire snuggled up with the family

Your biggest achievement? 
My children ☺

Since Baby B was born, I have been wondering how to make a child friendly photo album, resorting to pockets inside felt pages but this is a fab idea. A big thanks for Mitali for taking the time to answer these questions and allowing us to be a bit nosy. I loved the answer the 'What is the best word' as I feel the same way

Mrs Crafty B

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