Aside from my wonderful husband and ballet-mad daughters, I have two main loves: the Lake District and dancing. They are part of the fabric of me and luckily, are woven together into my daily life now and hopefully for a long time to come. Let me tell you a little about the history of Bea and explain how it’s more than just a dance wear shop.
I have two ballerinas for daughters perhaps because I danced as a child too. I did ballet dancing until I was 15 but I also did tap dancing, I was part of The Kentainers who performed at The Assembly Halls a lot and generally loved everything about dance! I loved the outfits, the dances, feeling elegant, feeling healthy …. but I did hate tights!
Every summer as a child, when I took a break from dancing, we would go on holiday to the Lake District, the national park in Cumbria. It was a long drive but it really was worth it. I have memories of swimming in the crystal-clear water of the lakes, picnics with my family surrounded by majestic fells, building dams with my brother in the streams and, yes, a few rainy days as you come to expect holidaying in the UK! But the overriding memory is of idyllic, carefree, happy holidays.
Puddleduck and Beatrix’s many other creations in her books so to see where she lived was fantastic, it really brought the characters to life. As you’ll soon see, my family’s connection with this corner of the UK was to leave a huge and lasting impression on me.
Fast forward a couple of decades to the birth of my first daughter and, it had to be done - we call her Beatrix. Eager to recreate my childhood holidays and to help baby Beatrix fall in love with the lakes too, we holidayed in the Lake District and visited Penrith. Whilst browsing around the shops we stumble across a gorgeous baby, gift & toy shop selling all sorts of lovely organic baby products, lotions and potions &, Beatrix Potter merchandise. Merchandise makes it sound cheap and tacky but the toys were beautifully crafted and superb plush replications of the books’ characters. They took me back to the stories of Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten but also ignited an enterprising spark in me. This was what we needed in Kent - a traditional baby & toy shop selling top quality products.
I opened Baby Bea (named after Beatrix of course!) in West Malling shortly afterwards as a baby & toy shop,
selling mum-to-be products, posh nappies and of course baby gifts, and although I’ve introduced my other passion of dance to the shop, I still sell toys today. I stock a lot of Beatrix Potter toys and also Beatrix Potter themed letters for doors or above hooks which are fabulous as baby gifts – a real classic.
I have stayed true to what I saw in Penrith – quality toys made well: there are Big Jigs railway track pieces, buildings and trains; dolls, rattles, comforters, books and CDs! So, although we talk a lot about dance, Bea is so much more.
Nowadays, I do still dance and I still holiday in the Lake District but whilst I’m at work, I’m fortunate enough to have little reminders of those fells and lakes surrounding me in the shape of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck!
If you’re in need of a gift for a small person, want to tell me your own Lakeland tale or just want to come to say hi, please do pop in.
Making memories with my brother, neice and nephew!