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West End resident Jodi Anderson has been making homemade Christmas gifts for her family for the past three years. Each year she would pick something to create such as a quilt, but in 2017 she decided to take on a special project.
“I wanted to learn to make teddy bears,” Anderson said. “I just think they’re adorable.”
In October of 2017, Anderson began researching patterns that she could sew. She wanted to stick with a vintage theme that would appeal to her style.
“I like old stuff; I like that connection to history,” she said. “I was honestly looking for an authentic Teddy Bear pattern.”
The Teddy Roosevelt story about his connection to the Teddy Bear is what enticed Anderson to make the gift.
“In the 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt was out hunting and refused to shoot a bear,” Anderson said. “A cartoonist poking fun at Roosevelt called it a Teddy Bear. The story is really interesting.”
Anderson sent the gifts off to her family members in California and began receiving requests from friends to make bears for them as well.
After receiving multiple requests, Jodi Anderson created Anderson Bears.
“People wanted to have one,” she said.
In addition to being homemade, what makes Anderson Bears unique is the material. The first bear was made with velvet rather than fur, and Anderson is particular about what fur she uses for her bears.
Anderson is also creating Legacy Bears which are made out of clothing from a loved one. A voice recording can also be placed in the bear to remember a loved one or to show love to someone who lives far away.
“For someone who lives far away who you don’t get to see often, you can send them a bear just to say, ‘Hey, I love you,” Anderson said.
Anderson made several Legacy Bears for her family in honor of her Catholic Italian grandmother who would say a prayer every night. Anderson recorded her grandmother reciting the prayer before she passed away.
“I made the bear with my grandmother’s dress and put the recording in the bear,” Anderson said.
“Most of the family has Grandma’s Bear.”
She also made a bear for someone whose mother had passed away. The bear was made of cloth and wore an outfit made from the mother’s negligee.
Anderson’s collectable bears can also be used for those in home-assisted facilities. After doing research, Anderson found that teddy bears are proven to decrease depression, loneliness, and fear of mortality.
“Teddy bears are transitional objects, like a blanket for a baby,” she said.
What started out as a hobby is becoming so much more to Anderson.
Anderson is currently in the process of taking this new hobby and turning it into a business with Anderson Bears.
“I was just looking to make a Christmas gift. This was not in the plans,” she said.
She currently has a career as a parent educator, working with teens and parents and teaching life skills and money management.
“I would love to be able to do this full-time,” she said. “My vision is to mainly get the Legacy Bears off the ground.”
During spare time, her husband helps her to cut out the thirty pieces that are sewn together to create each individual bear.
“My great-grandmother made quilts, and I remember her putting my great-grandfather to work cutting pieces,” she said.
Anderson hopes that these collectable huggable bears will help family members to feel connected. She also hopes to make Prayer Bears for patients diagnosed with cancer, autism, ADHD, etc.
“I can integrate the ribbon and colors into the clothing,” she said.
Her favorite part of making bears is seeing the reaction on people’s faces when they receive them. Each bear comes with a birth certificate.
Anderson Bears cost anywhere from $55 – $110, depending on how much detail is wanted. Shipping is an additional $8 – $15.
A 10% discount for one bear is provided for those who mention this article.