Dressing-up is one of the joys of childhood and there’s a shop in Sheen which sells beautiful clothes guaranteed to break any proud mum or dad’s heart.
There are Sugar Plum Fairies, Angels with wings, Tudor lady costumes, Crusader Knights – complete with swords and shields – and more ballet tutus than you could shake a stick at. Infant & Child on the Upper Richmond Road caters for the magical world of the young, combined with sensible items needed by young parents.
“The shop is the brainchild of Michelle Bayes who decided on a career-change after starting her own family. “My background is science,” she explains. “When I worked in Science, one study was looking at the evolution of female behaviour in baboons, based in Amboseli National Park. But, like lots of mums, I had to make changes when my children arrived.”
She decided that a shop reflecting her own experience in rearing and entertaining children might just work – and it certainly has, keeping her very busy for the past eight years.
“When I started the shop I catered for babies and children up to six years, but now my daughter, who is the eldest, is 10, we have extended our range to cater for kids up to 10,” she added. “The way we are going, it looks like we may have to change the name of the shop to Infant & Teenager in a couple of years!”The premises are much more than a dressing-up emporium. There are racks of attractive every day wear for girls and boys, hundreds of toys of every description, and shelves of practical items like blankets, feeding bowls, plastic plates, and cutlery for children.
“Many of our customers have grown up with the shop and they are very loyal,” said Michelle.
“I try very hard to stock good quality items which are not too expensive. It’s a real challenge as I’m very keen on British and European brands which are environmentally-friendly with low air miles. I also have to make buying decisions a year in advance and it can be difficult to know what is going to be in demand.”
Typical of her approach and a great favourite with customers is the Noa Noa range of girls clothes which come from Denmark and are of excellent quality. The shop sells more girls clothes than boys, but Michelle plans to stock more items for boys next year.
Infant & Child will soon be the only independent children’s clothes shop in the Richmond area as the only other one, which is in Barnes, is closing in the New Year.
Meanwhile, if you need a soft toy for a new baby, go and see Michelle. She stocks hundreds of them, including Nursing Nina, a soft toy which has become a hit for Christmas. It’s a model of a cat nursing its baby kittens which are cunningly attached to mum using hidden magnets. Ideal for very small children and priced at £21.95. There’s also a nursing dog and a nursing sheep.
“The Nursing Nina is very popular. We sold six of them to one lady the other day who was going to hand them round her family,” said Michelle.
Teddy bears also remain popular – even among adults. “There is a woman in Sheen who collects them and whenever we put a new one in the window she comes in and buys it. She must have hundreds in her collection,” she added.
A more unusual present for a boy is a pirate’s hot water bottle decorated in black with a skull and crossbones for £12.95, while no Sugar Plum Fairy would be complete without a flashing light magic wand with sound at £9.95.
Infant & Child is perfect for gifts and gorgeous clothes and accessories for young ladies and gents!
Infant & Child, 343 Upper Richmond Road West, SW14 8QN
Words by Mark Dowdney – Pictures by Bob Lisney – Project Coordinator Richard Osbourne