Perfect Ten: A Decade of Teddy Bear Magic with Tambo Teddies!

Perfect Ten: A Decade of Teddy Bear Magic with Tambo Teddies!

In 2023, we celebrated thirty years of Tambo Teddies. Now, in 2024, we mark another significant milestone: ten years since we, Alison and Tammy, assumed ownership of this beloved local icon.

So much has been packed into this last decade!

Together with friend Kiralee Fox, we decided to purchase this local icon local icon after it lingered on the market for several months. The former owner, Mary Sutherland, expressed her desire to retire during an ABC interview, emphasizing her preference to pass the business to a local or else she would close its doors.

It’s remarkable how a single statement can linger in people’s minds; even years later, we would have visitors coming into the store, expressing surprise as they had thought Teddies had closed down. However, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth – the business is flourishing.

Our first couple of years were filled with laughter – we had no idea what was actually involved in making teddy bears! We never intended to work in the business, rather we considered we would grow it by working on it. At the time Tammy and Kiralee were both teaching and Alison was working for the Council, for the first couple of months we headed into the teddy shop after work to cut out teddy bears ready for sewing the next day.

Our journey started with a bang, when the Queensland Government purchased a Mr Stockman as the gift for Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince George during their visited in 2014, just six weeks after we had assumed ownership. Sharing this news on our newly established social media platforms ignited interest in our beautiful products, driving demand to new levels.

By the end of the financial year, we had turned the business around and tripled the revenue. and expanding our team to keep pace with increasing demands. Despite our efforts to scale up production, the challenge of meeting soaring sales persisted. We recognized that without ample teddy bears to meet demand, our growth potential would be stunted.

Our momentum surged further in 2015 when we clinched victory in the inaugural Regional Australia Institute and Google’s Regional Online Heroes competition, garnering additional national attention and fuelling the fervour for our beloved bears.

Amidst our successes, challenges persisted, particularly in securing wholesale markets for our hand-crafted bears due to their higher price point. Throughout 2016, we persevered, adjusting our marketing strategies while grappling with supply chain and manufacturing obstacles.

Amidst these trials, Kiralee made the difficult decision to depart from the business. Recognizing the demands of her evolving life and shifting priorities, she found she could no longer dedicate the necessary time to Teddies. Her departure marked a significant transition for us, yet it also heralded a period of re-evaluation.

Alison and Tammy remained committed to expanding the business. To bolster our team of sewers, we organized “come and try” days, actively seeking skilled individuals to join our endeavour. Additionally, recognizing the importance of direct sourcing, we journeyed to China to personally select our skins, stuffing, and packaging materials.

However, it was still apparent, when during the tourist season, we had more bears arriving on the bus from our sewer in Toowoomba than on our shelves, we still had a supply issue.

In 2019, recognizing the need for expansion, we took a significant step forward by leasing a small commercial building in Toowoomba and establishing our Regional Sewing Hub. Through a partnership with Multicultural Australia, we found dedicated workers, including migrants from Syria, whom we are immensely proud to have as part of our team to this day.

As the success of the Hub continued to soar, it became increasingly evident by the beginning of 2020 that we had outgrown our modest premises. Investing with our husbands, we bought our warehouse on Water St where we manufacture and retail Tambo Teddies.

Over the past four years, our business has experienced remarkable growth and evolution. We’ve embarked on a journey of innovation, introducing new products, and tirelessly seeking out fresh markets and opportunities.

We’ve remained committed to our vision of spreading joy through our beloved Tambo Teddies, while also adapting to meet the changing needs and preferences of our customers.

As we look ahead to the future, we remain inspired by the endless possibilities that lie ahead. With passion and determination, we will continue to build upon our achievements and strive for excellence in everything we do. Together, we’re writing the next chapter of the Tambo Teddies story, and we couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead.