The proudly Queensland-based, international acclaimed Tambo Teddies is having a birthday – 30 years of crafting sheepskin teddy bears in Outback Queensland.
In 1992, a brain-storming session during a government workshop to uncover new industries in regional communities spawned the idea of creating teddy bears from sheepskin to help the ailing wool industry and local farmers plus attract tourists to Tambo. Helen Sargood, Charm Ryrie, and Mary Sutherland were the pioneers who got together and decided to form a teddy bear company. After nearly a year of extensive planning, designing, trial and error the first bears were ready for market in early 1993.
Tambo Teddies was the original outback ‘start-up’, well before the days of the internet and googling were commonplace, these three local entrepreneurs gave the yellow pages and the phone a workout sourcing supplies and raw materials. Promotion was similarly challenging; Helen Sargood’s main role in the business was the marketing of the bears and she travelled many miles carting bears to shows and exhibitions, remarking, ‘I wore out at least one car promoting those bears around the countryside’.
Working to establish a business from what was considered a quirky idea, their efforts paid off and Tambo Teddies has literally put Tambo on the map. Tambo Teddies take pride of place in homes all over the world including royal palaces in England and Denmark. From humble beginnings these little teddy bears have become quite famous and made the tiny town of Tambo the ‘outback Teddy capital of Australia’.
Today in 2023, there have been over 68,000 bears crafted, all created from Australian and New Zealand sheepskins. Tammy Johnson and Alison Shaw have been at the helm since 2014 and have implemented new products, ideas and methods including expansion online and into Toowoomba with a Regional Sewing Hub. Growing from a cottage industry into a substantial small business employing sixteen workers whilst keeping true to Teddies’ Australian made origins. Speaking for the pair Tammy commented, ‘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.’
To commemorate this significant milestone a limited-edition bear will be released in February, the Banjo bear. Two hundred special edition Banjos, a small, jointed bear created with the softest camel coloured sheepskins with the logo embroidered on his paw, will be made before Banjo joins the crew as an ‘on-the-shelf’ teddy bear. Other new releases are planned for the beginning of the year including a new bear family, the Stewart Bear, created in the likeness of a very old heirloom bear called ‘John’, and owned by the Stewart family from New Zealand.
A line of Branded Bears, small, medium, and large, will be available on the website very soon together with the largest Tambo Ted, a shaggy Goliath, crafted from long, fluffy sheepskins and the size of a small child.
Besides being cuddly and cute, teddy bears offer unconditional love, reassurance, security, and companionship. Sentiments shared by Tambo Teddies customers which firmly site Tambo Teddy bears as favoured friends and companions.
“You’ve bought so much pleasure to so many people”.
“The lives you have touched throughout this time (thirsty years) would be thousands”.
Tambo Teddies – Childhood friends for life.