Monica of TG Bears is a true artist. I met her when I started one of my Facebook groups and I think we have been friends since. I have been wanting to get my hands on one of her artisan bears and I was lucky enough to have won a contest for her famous Theodore Bear to come to my state of Pennsylvania.
When my bear arrived at my home, I was like a kid at Christmas getting their first teddy bear. Yes, a 50 year old kid. I took my precious gift out of the package and was literally speechless. Theodore was the most softest bear that this old gal has ever touched. I was totally in awe at not only the softness factor, but of the quality of my precious new friend. We would never ever find anything like this in a store. You can tell that Monica puts not only her time in making these bears, but also a lot of love. Oh did I mention that my teenage son would constantly touch it as he went by. I had to keep asking him if his hands were clean. Well, let’s hear what Monica has to say…..
Tell us about your bears. Well where do I start? Each one of my bears is handmade by me and is made from scratch. They are 16 inches tall and have jointed arms and legs so they are posable. Their eyes, nose and joints are safety items, thus making them child-safe. They are completely metal free and many of them have accompanied their buddy to scary medical procedures including scans and MRIs. The fur is the softest you will ever feel on a bear – just read the reviews on my website in you don’t believe me! While I have a collection of bears on my website that can be ordered directly off the website, I do also make custom bears. I have made a number of interesting bears for graduations, special life events, look a likes, etc Only the imagination is the limit of what we can do with a teddy bear to make it that one-of-a-kind special.
How did you get started making your artisan bears? Tell us about the birth of TG Bears? I have always loved teddy bears in any shape, fashion or form. But TG Bears came into existence in early 2011 after my husband was diagnosed with cancer at the end of 2010 and had to undergo treatment. I had only been legally allowed to work in the US for a little over 2 months when he became ill. He was our bread-winner and so I desperately tried to get myself employed, but to no avail. Thus I made my own job and TG Bears was born. Fortunately one of my two college qualifications is Software Development and so I was able to create my own website. I pinched a little money from our grocery budget to buy the first yard of fabric and some stuffing. Theodore Bear then made an appearance on the website. In those early days I needed to sell a bear to buy the fabric to make it. TG Bears has grown in leaps and bounds since then and I have the privilege of saying that there is a TG Bear on all 6 of the inhabited continents. In pursuit of paying the kindnesses we received in a very dark period of our lives forward, I involved myself in various programs to help give children a special bear to accompany them on their difficult battles when fighting chronic illnesses and am honored to work with many wonderful organizations across the nation and around the world.
You collaborate with a lot of great charities. Can you tell us about an experience with your business that touched you on a personal level? I could never highlight only one of the many experiences I have had that have touched me on a personal level. I receive a lot of photos of children with their bears. Each one touches me for its own reasons. When I receive reviews on the bears on my website, many of them touch me also. Recently I heard from a customer of mine that purchased one of my limited edition Epilepsy bears that I design for the month of November. She let me know that she had set her alarm to be able to purchase one at midnight when the sale started. Another story was someone who was finally able to purchase an IHope Kathi Bear, after having wanted one since 2012. I am humbled that people would put so much effort into obtaining one of my bears.
Do you have any specific goals for your business in the next year? Two years? Five years? I have a list of conditions that people have asked me to create bears for, that is my immediate goal to be able to design these bears. Longer term goals would be that TG Bears becomes a household name in the world of bears much the same as Steiff Bears.
If you were to design the perfect team of 4 people to help you run this company, what characteristics would those four people have? Firstly all 4 people would need to have the same passion about making bears, not only for customers, but for friends. Many of my customers become friends and because of the many awareness bears that I make, I mostly have closer contact with them even long after they have purchased a bear from me. The team would need to understand this and cultivate this feeling of security and confidence. We never can underestimate the value of a furry friend to someone of any age. The next vital characteristic would be the importance of customer service and helping people to verbalize the special design they have in their head. All of us on this team would need to get on well and have the benefit of the business as our focus.
What motivates you the most when it comes to designing a new bear? Color! Color has always been a motivating factor for me. I love bright, strong colors and including them into bears is so motivating.
What is your most popular bear? The patriarch of the TG Bears family – Theodore Bear. But I have to say that Cure AHC Matthew Bear is close at his heels.
Where can we find TG Bears?
I want to thank Monica for taking the time out of her busy schedule to allow me to interview her. She is making a difference in so many lives that I cannot begin to show you. I admire her so much for being able to put smiles on the faces of so many children. Their new furry friends make them feel less afraid at a very scary time in their lives. She is a true hero in my book.
Monica would love to have everyone be able to cuddle up with a TG Bear that she is offering a special discount only to those who read this blog. She is offering a 15% discount off your total order. WOOHOO I told you she was special! Just go to her website and enter coupon code DANDI2015 at checkout. Offer expires September 30, 2015. Put a smile on the face of someone you love 🙂