Charlie Bears: the story so far...

10 March 2009
imports_CCGB_reggietheraccoon_77037.gif Reggie the Raccoon
William Morris of Charlie Bears writes about about recent events, future plans and the latest Charlie Bears plush collection. ...
Charlie Bears: the story so far... Images

Last Christmas Eve William Morris of Charlie Bears found the time to sit down and pen a few lines about recent events, future plans and, of course, the latest Charlie Bears plush collection.

WELL, here I am on Christmas Eve. I’m on my own because all the little elves have gone home to wrap presents as the last bears went out of the door yesterday. This has pretty much been the story of this year, with massive growth of the business and lots of visits across the country to signing events.

We have just worked out that over 150,000 bears have now been despatched during 2008 to stockists in countries all over the world, including America, Taiwan, Japan, Sweden, France and Germany, not forgetting our jewel in the crown after the UK – Australia.

Australia will be a big growth market next year; after a very successful showing of the products at the Melbourne Home and Gift show in August 2008, we now have over 40 stockists and are in the process of talking with many more.

Charlie and I are planning a visit to the trade show this year in August and also a couple of events at some shops in Australia. All the stockists in Australia are experiencing the same results as the UK, with bears virtually flying off the shelves.

The UK now boasts in excess of 200 stockists, including pretty much all of the best known teddy bear shops as well as some very large chains, including Peter Jones (Glass and China, Yorkshire), Collectables (North East), Connaught House (Midlands) and, of course, Harrods and Hamleys. New stockists are being added all
the time, so please check out the website (link will open in new window) for your nearest outlet.

2008 was the most wonderful year: very encouraging, very exhausting but also very rewarding. We completed over 40 signing events and met some wonderful people along the way, sharing our stories of new collections and QVC (the shopping channel) appearances.

We have had a great opportunity to listen to name suggestions and design ideas and even possible new ranges. In our first year we always said that in year four we would take a break from doing signing events as they take up so much time and energy, and re-evaluate where we are with the business.

So, here we are – we have decided that 2009 will be all about new product development and the growth of other worldwide markets, and we intend to be back out on the road during 2010 with some wonderful new artists, some wonderful new designs… and possibly even a new product!

You can still catch us on QVC with more and more appearances planned. We already have shows booked for April (two hours), July (two hours) and September (three to four hours).

New collection

We are so excited about the new collection being launched at the NEC trade show during February, with new artists such as Marjan Jorritsma (Tonni Bears) and the wonderful Christine Pike, some cracking new designs from Lisa Rosenbaum and Heather Lyell, and not forgetting our very own Isabelle Lee.

Both Charlotte and I are still waiting for the day when we cannot better a collection but once again we seem to have got the best from the artists and brought about a collection that is both varied and thrilling.

Reggie the Raccoon has to be one of my favourites. Designed by Lisa Rosenbaum, he was due last year but never made it due to him being a little camera shy. Standing at 43.18cm (17in) he really is an absolute stunner – he will be on the shelves at an amazing price of just under £40 and worth every penny.

So much attention to detail has gone in to the production of this little chap that he should be priced at over £100 but as you know we always stick to our guns.

Kojak bearContinuing on the theme of my other passion, wildlife, another favourite of mine is Kojak the Kodiak bear (pictured left). I absolutely adore this bear! Standing at 50.8cm (20in), with his crazy hair-do and big belly I think the reason I like him so much is that he resembles me! In a rich cocoa brown with cream face, this bear will really melt your heart and hug you back.

Speaking to Charlie this morning I really had to prise out a favourite from her as she is playing her cards very close to her chest. She has always adored the bunnies that we bring out at this time of year and 2009 is no exception as we bring you Hannah, a new design from Marjan Jorritsma of Holland.

Limited to only 600 pieces worldwide, this 35.56cm (14in) imitation mohair bunny with carrot will not be around for long. Another very exciting development and a firm favourite with Charlie is Bo Bo the Elephant, again by Marjan.

We wanted to do something completely different and this really captured her attention for a long time after the designs came in. Bo Bo stands at 31.75cm (12½in) and is made from the most wonderfully soft grey plush.

Of course no Charlie Bears collection would be complete without a mass of perfect pandas and this year we have so many wonderful designs, again playing with the colours.

Ellis bear imageAnother favourite with Charlie is Ellis; designed by Isabelle Lee, he stands at 40cm (16in) and really is a very proud, absolutely stunning panda in tan and white (pictured right).

We both know it is very hard to choose favourites, but one bear that all four of us at Charlie Bears went dotty over was Alfie. Another Isabelle Lee design, he really is the most delicious bear that Charlie Bears has ever produced. Isabelle has paid so much attention to detail, airbrushing such a wonderful expression that says both ‘Who, me?’ and ‘Please take me home to look after’. Alfie stands at 43.18cm (17in) and has fixed jointing, which gives him that incredibly proud look.

The babies in the bunch this year are Niamh and Alice, both standing at 26.67cm (10½in) and both designed by Isabelle Lee. These beautiful characters are both kitten weight and looking to be loved.

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Final thought

Charlie Bears has produced over 50 new designs for the Spring 2009 collection, which will be available in the shops from the middle of February, and will also produce a number of exclusive items for major shops and QVC – details of which will be found on the news section of the Charlie Bears website.

Also, don’t forget the new Isabelle Mohair Collection; available in the shops from April, it is bigger and better than ever with over 40 new designs.