Updated: Feb 13
✦ We all outgrow our kiddie puzzles and building blocks, but there is one toy that stays with us for life - our teddies. And Tambo Teddies are celebrating thirty very special years of crafting unique sheepskin teddy bears in Outback Queensland.
How Tambo Teddies brought a town back to life
In 1992, wool prices were crashing and the community of Tambo in western QLD found themselves in the midst of a drought. It was in the depth of this crisis that the seed of an idea was born. Tambo decided to create teddy bears.
Yes, from wool pelts, sheepskin and stuff them with wool. The humble teddy was what helped to lift the wool industry, create employment for local farmers and even encourage tourists to visit. A new industry was born, and it continued to sustain the economy of the little town of Tambo.
Tambo Teddies are not just a child's special friend. They brought a town back to life all those many years ago.
The pioneers of this movement were Helen Sargood, Charm Ryrie, and Mary Sutherland. They were the ones who formed the teddy bear company and after a year of extensive planning, designing, trial and error, the first bears were ready for the market in early 1993.
The original start-up
These three local entrepreneurs were the original outback 'start-up'. Remember, at that time, there was no Internet or Google, no Facebook or Instagram. They had to do marketing the hard way.
It meant leafing through hefty Yellow Pages (do you remember those?!) and spending countless hours on the phone speaking to people to source for supplies and raw materials. Imagine the pain on the ears and getting that ache in your arms just holding the phone for so many hours.
Helen Sargood was in charge of marketing and she recalled travelling for miles carting those precious bears to shows and exhibitions, wearing out at least one car promoting them around the countryside. Tambo Teddies are very seasoned travellers!
Tambo Teddies go global
Tambo Teddies have gone from being a small town teddy in Australia to living in royal palaces in England and Denmark. The town of Tambo itself has become famous, and is known as the 'outback Teddy capital of Australia'. Tambo Teddies are loved with pride all over the world.
As of now in 2023, over 68,000 Tambo Teddies have been lovingly crafted from Australian and New Zealand sheepskins.
If the very first Tambo Teddy that was stitched together could speak, it would not have imagined his brothers and sisters could have reached this level of fame.
Keeping the Tambo Teddy tradition alive
New blood has taken over the helm and Tammy Johnson and Alison Shaw have been hard at work keeping the Tambo Teddy tradition alive and going since 2014. They have come up with new products, ideas and methods and yes, their marketing has gone modern now and has expanded online. They have also extended into Toowoomba with a Regional Sewing Hub.
"I think most of all I enjoy sharing our beautiful bears with the wider world!" - Alison Shaw
What was once a simple cottage industry has since grown into a substantial small business with 16 workers who continue to create beautiful teddies to become every child's best friend ever. They are still keeping true to the teddies' Australian-made origins. Tambo Teddies are Proudly Australian!
"We believe we have a great core product that customers adore, we continue to build upon this and are working to take our bears further across Australia and overseas, and at the same time helping to promote Tambo and Outback Queensland." - Tammy Johnson
Limited edition Banjo Bear
Celebrating a thirty-year anniversary is no mean feat, and it warrants a true celebration. To commemorate this significant milestone in the history of Tambo Teddies, a limited-edition bear will be released in February. 200 special edition Banjo Bears will be ready to be each child's very own special friend. This small, jointed bear is created with the softest camel-coloured sheepskin with the logo embroidered on his paw. Banjo Bear will join the rest of his brothers and sisters as an 'on-the-shelf' teddy bear later.
There are new releases planned for the beginning of the year, so keep a look out for a new bear family, the Stewart Bear. It is created in the likeness of a very old heirloom bear called 'John' and is owned by the Stewart family from New Zealand.
Coming soon is also a line of Branded Bears (small, medium, large) which will be available on the website very soon. Soon to join the family is also the largest Tambo Ted, a shaggy Goliath of a bear (the size of a small child!), crafted from long, fluffy sheepskins.
“The lives you have touched throughout this time (thirty years) would be thousands”.
Tambo Teddy fun facts
There are two Tambo Teddy families - the Basils and the Tobies! You can recognise them by how they look. Basils are traditional teddy bears and Tobies are chubby and are multi-coloured patchwork bears.
Each bear is individually named after a farming property in the Tambo district.
Each bear has its own unique number and personality.
As they are handcrafted, no two bears are exactly the same.
Tambo Teddies are made in both Tambo and Toowoomba. Meet the different bears here!
Tambo Teddies are childhood friends for life
Confession time. Many adults would secretly love to have a Tambo Teddy, not just for their children but for themselves. A teddy bear is cute and cuddly, but that is not what steals our hearts. There is something incredibly unique and special about a teddy bear's love, a warmth in their hug that you can't find anywhere else. Tambo Teddies offer unconditional love, reassurance, security, and companionship. Anyone who has owned a Tambo Teddy can attest to that. They are their favoured friends and companions. If you've ever hugged a Tambo Teddy, you'll realise how soft, gentle and warm it is, and you'll never want to let it go.
“You’ve bought so much pleasure to so many people”.
We are never too old to believe in magic, and the Inner Children in all of us want to believe that 'when a child loves a teddy for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY love him, then it becomes Real'.
Have you hugged your Tambo Teddy today?
Contact Tambo Teddies:
t/ 0428 546 107
t/ 0428 371 968
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