Children’s Lane is a trip down memory lane that mums and grandmothers will enjoy when they see items that trigger treasured memories from their childhoods. It is sweet family owned store where the family themselves are passionate and remain at the forefront of their business and one of their side missions is to create a community for mums and children in Abu Dhabi. We talk to Children’s Lane about their amazing venture that has been a huge success and the inspirations behind the items in the store, and what we love most is their concept of reading sessions at the store to help the next generation fall in love with books.
What inspired you to create Children’s Lane?
The birth of our daughter. We often refer to the fact that she is the true founder of Children’s Lane, because if it had not been for her, there would not have been the family journey we embarked on, that ultimately led to the establishment of Children’s Lane.
It was wanting to build an ambience and nursery suite that included the aesthetics and activities we had grown up with and naturally gravitated towards that inspired us to search for the perfect pieces for her personal space. This set us off on a very personal journey that we ended up sharing with other families and Children’s Lane was subsequently born.
Children spend the majority of their childhood being nurtured at home and providing the right environment that would help develop her attention to detail, nurture her imagination and help her dream or just be, was vital to us.
We wanted to recreate childhood memories that we had been very fortunate and blessed to have experienced. This is something that we have carried and cherished throughout our lives.
What would we find in Children’s Lane?
You will find carefully handpicked, tried and tested, selections of whimsical, nostalgic and timeless pieces that are sure to evoke fond memories of your own childhood. There is a wide range of luxury collections catering to the 0-16 age range from toys to furniture, bed linen, accessories, games and party supplies, books, fine clothing, occasion wear, skincare products for babies – and fortunately for mummy too, for the ultimate in pampering me-time.
Which are your 5 favourite items at Children’s Lane that evoke your personal memories of childhood?
I grew up as a voracious reader and most of my childhood memories involved being curled up in my room, turning pages and transporting myself to vividly different magical places and experiences. I would go with my father every Saturday to the local library where we were allowed to borrow four books a week, which to my chagrin, I’d end up consuming in a day, waiting for the week to end so I could rush back and restock on new adventures.
I recall many a happy times devouring book after book to the backdrop of the humming sounds of a neighborhood lawn being mowed in the distance, on a golden summer’s afternoon or to robins chirping at dusk before bedtime whilst snow fell outside the window pane, accompanied by an occasional howling gust of wind in those chilly winter evenings.
Most of the classic titles you see in Children’s Lane are stories I’ve treasured and carried close to me throughout my childhood into my adult life, whether it is The Witches by Roald Dahl, The magic of Enid Blyton, or books by Judy Blume, every book carries a special memory and captures feelings associated with that phase of my life.
I love the furniture pieces, as each one was selected with my dream nursery in mind and bears precious nostalgic moments of the time we grew up in, whether being the handmade cradles or
the beautifully handcrafted cots, each piece represents a special story. The craftsmen, artisans and their families whose crafts have been passed down through generations, have their own stories to tell that are lovingly handcrafted and painted into each piece.
I believe rocking horses should be a staple in every children’s room and nursery suite. On a personal level, it serves as a beautiful reminder of countless hours and afternoons of ‘make believe’ and ‘dress up’ play my sister and I would spend, pretending to be heroines or horse racing champions and princesses galloping away to our enchanted castles which were made of chairs and sheets over them.
Who in your family when you were growing up made sure that you had a magical childhood?
Honestly, my husband and I were both fortunate and blessed to have had a magical childhood and we hope that we could recreate this magic for our daughter. Times have changed so much now, our childhood was simpler then with little needed to spark imagination and to keep us engaged.
Our parents made sure that we focused on being children and enjoyed our childhood, whilst at the same time nurturing and developing our cognitive skills, lateral thinking and honing them. My mum was a teacher and would spend a lot of time educating, imparting values and recounting stories that made us dream.
Our fathers made sure that they were very present, instilled strong value systems within us and encouraged us to question and stay curious, to be very present and engaged with whatever it is we would do and to always look ahead and believe that anything was possible – that only our minds limited us.
Family time was also a very sacred daily ritual, with lunch after school taken together and evening time spent sharing with our parents anecdotes from our day at school, playing chess or board games. Weekends we would go to libraries, theaters, seaside trips, museums and excursions. Those things are so important in making children feel secure and loved. I feel that despite our blessings today, with our fast pace of life, ability to multitask and being connected all the time, makes it harder to disconnect and focus on our children and ourselves. This is where we hope to bring back that quality time with the games and books that we offer.
What were your favourite books growing up?
I loved reading Enid Blyton stories, where I would get lost in one of her enchanted forests or drift up a faraway tree to discover magical lands of
adventures with her memorable creatures and their midnight feasts.
The Worst Witch in School series was another fond memory. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the adventures of Narnia were a classic as well as The Secret Garden. Roald Dahl was an incredibly delightful and fun read. Today, you can find some of these favorite authors housed in Children’s Lane and we are working on expanding the collection to encompass more of our beloved memories.
Your current ‘day-job’ and career path outside of Children’s Lane is one of an extremely successful person. Who and what instilled in you such a strong discipline to strive to succeed?
The truth is that much of my drive for my personal life, medical career, and for Children’s Lane has been instilled in me by my parents who have always wanted and nurtured me to succeed in every aspect of my life. They worked tirelessly to provide the best they could for my siblings and myself and always fostered an environment of independence, ’moving-forward’ no matter what adversities one faces and creating your own destiny. I look back at what they have accomplished and achieved – and how they still continue to do so – and use their motivation, philosophies and value system as a compass and inspiration for my life.
How many children do you have? What books do you read to them at bedtime?
We are blessed with our beautiful daughter Amna, who loves her stories as much as we love reading them to her. Since she was 6 months old we ensured that we exposed her to books of all genres for her age. Each time we travel, our tradition of ‘coming home’ gifts for her are tales and stories from wherever we had just been.
These days she loves Peppa Pig’s George and His Red Balloon. She’s also in love with Beatrix Potter’s Appley Dappley and Belle and Boo’s Hop Along Boo, Time For Bed, with its beautiful illustrations. It’s always a happy chirp of ‘again mummy’ after I finish reading it.
What are your child’s top three favourite items from Children’s Lane?
Her top three items would be our rocking horses, a French pink pedal car that she loves to drive around in, and the eight foot giraffe that she has to climb on every time we visit.
She’s started to pay attention to the wardrobe area of the store and loves trying on the shimmering couture dresses; it’s so interesting to see that she has developed a very clear sense of style and is defining what she likes at such a young age.
Where is your favourite holiday destination with the family?
England will always be that special retreat for me for so many reasons; I grew up there, I feel comfortable navigating myself around city and countryside alike, and now that I have a family I can, hand on my heart, state it is the most family friendly city in the world.
We love spending afternoons at Battersea Park, or taking the little one to playgroups, children’s museums and finding fun activities and restaurants for kids. There is so much to do and see there to keep you engaged.
In the evenings, it’s unwinding from the day where we get the chance to dress up in evening attire and my husband and I go out for a cosy dinner somewhere in town, depending on what we feel like having. This is always followed by a long walk home taking in the crisp night air, the great energy, beautiful architecture and sounds of the city.
The weekends are a change of pace where we like to get away from it all. There is a hidden place in Surrey owned by an Italian family that we enjoy escaping to, with lush landscapes and rolling hills for leisurely strolls and stunning rooms. We enjoy indulging in strawberries and cream for breakfast washed down with a fragrant Earl Grey and afternoons are even worse and more decadent with tea and the most heavenly clotted cream in front of the fireplace.
Your favourite place for a date night in Abu Dhabi?
We both enjoy looking for obscure places where we can just sit back as a couple, unwind and reflect on our day. There is a little sushi bar we love to frequent when we want a getaway. Catch is another favourite, the energy by the sea is soothing and sometimes we will schedule an afternoon lunch date to take in the vibrant colour of the water sparkling outside against the nautically designed interior.
Villa Toscana has deliciously decadent Italian cuisine, in the cosiest setting. Perfect for an evening out.
For more details contact:
Friday’s 4pm -10pm
Telephone: +971 26267270
Level 1, Futouh Al Khair Family Mall
Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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Sunday, February 07, 2016