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Meet Paula Carter of All BearMeet our August/September Artist: Paula Carter of All Bear. Each month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
When did you start making bears and what inspired you to design your own?
My interest in bear art evolved from a passion for vintage English teddy bears, particularly the Chiltern Hugmee. Back in the early 90's, I came across Pauline Cockrill's 'The Ultimate Teddy Bear' book and after reading the listings at the back of the book, I began to realise there was a whole world of teddy bears to find out about! Shortly after that, I visited my very first bear show in London and was blown away by the amazing array of teddy bears being offered for sale and needless to say, it wasn't long after that I was tempted into having a go myself!
Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
I have a reputation for making big bears. My preference is to use traditional bear crafting skills to create classic teddy bears, with a subtle nod to contemporary design.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I have lived in the County of Kent in the United Kingdom for most of the past thirty five years, but originally I hail from Hampshire, near the sea!
What inspires you?
I look for inspiration absolutely everywhere. Nature, colour, literature, music, humour ... you name it, I try to take inspiration from it!
What is your favorite part of bear making?
Like many other bear artists, I take particular pleasure in creating the bear's head and seeing his personality evolve. I also relish the business of bears, running a sole tradership means being a 'Jack of all Trades' and I find it extremely satisfying to know that I am responsible not only for creating my product from raw materials, but also for marketing it and ensuring my business makes a profit!
How did you choose your business name?
I wanted a name which encompassed both my style of bear making and my commitment towards continuing our proud British bear crafting heritage, I wanted something to sum it all up ... hence, 'All Bear'. Simple but effective!
Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
One of my favourite pastimes is to take a walk in the fresh air and go exploring, I really enjoy doing that. I also love to read, knit, garden and listen to music.
Do you have any pets and/or children?
At 23 and 25, I don't think my two offspring can be classed as children any more! I have a son and a daughter, both of whom live with me and our three cats.
What are you most proud of?
Aside from my children, I think I would say I am most proud of keeping my teddy bear business going through good times and bad! I have been self-employed for a fair number of years and that has taken commitment, determination, inspiration (and plenty of perspiration!) and sheer hard work. I have had to learn many skills (alongside developing my bear making abilties) to keep my little bear business ticking over and I am proud of what I have achieved in terms of both business and reputation. A particular highlight for me this year has been to receive my first 'TOBY Industry's Choice Award'.
Where do you sell your bears?
My bears are available primarily through my website and from the two major London shows I attend, one in February and the other in September. From time to time I am invited to create special shop exclusive bears for the odd shop here and there, but mainly I run a web-based business from www.allbear.co.uk selling direct to collectors.
All Bear Blog
All Bear on Teddy-Bears.org