Nadya and Tanya are the creators of the adorable Philomena Kloss bears. Their stuffed bears are not your usual furry teddies. They are standing, they wear human clothes, and each one has his and her own personality. These bears become friends with kids and grown-ups alike. Nadya and Tanya make their stuff bears and other animal friends from their studio in Odessa, Ukraine. Today, they share a few things about their shop and inspiration.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
Our shop is named after Philomena Kloss, who was not very well known in the wider community. But, this woman was a social activist. She was director of the girl’s school in Poland. We were attracted to her image. She certainly had tried to make the world better, without glory and fame.
What do you love most about what you do?
Nadia is good at inventing stories about bears, describing their character, determining the profession for them. Also she is an expert at fashion design of the most difficult clothiers – jackets for bears, coats, dresses with cleavage.
Tanya is the main creator of the bear’s “body”. It is an exciting process of forming the bear’s appearance, creating something big and with volume from a piece or raw material. And, suddenly, you can hug it and hold it by the arm.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
We like everything that is connected with the creation of our toys. Otherwise, we would not be doing it.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Actually, we think, that everything that happens around us and our business is a natural process. It’s easy. It’s our life. Everything happens on its own time when we deserve it, and when we are ready for it. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge was to give up our basic professions. (Nadia is an Architect in her past; Tanya, a philologist) and to devote all our time to working in our workshop. We risked to lose stability and constancy for our favorite occupations.
How did you come up with the idea of creating stuffed tweed bears?
It just so happened that the main “hero” of our history is a bear. At the beginning of our business, we have sewn classic bears. By the time we came to our own image, we wanted that our bear repeats the form of the brown bear’s body, who stand on its hind legs. The result of our invention is funny and serious at the same time, as we would like. Besides bears in the same style, we are doing raccoons, foxes and wolves. We always try to wear our guys looked realistic, and not a doll. In results, people want not only a bear, but also clothes, like a bear has.
What kind of materials do you use to make these adorable stuffed toys?
We prefer working with natural fabrics: essentially tweed, cotton, linen. The main thing is the toy must be comfortable to the touch. Sometimes, to implement some ideas, we must look at something for a long time, choose the desired color and texture. And also, when we are traveling, we look for interesting fabric, buttons and other things that can be useful for our bears.
How do you come up with each bear’s name?
When the bear is ready, we give it a name. It comes to mind by itself, although sometimes we must think a lot. If it is a serious bear, of course, his name will be, for example, James or Stewart. Leo is a romantic character, and Lars is a simple, but refined guy. Some years ago, we had a series of bears with names of Hollywood actors and even Nobel laureates.
I noticed three foxes in the shop, why fox, and will we see other animals in the future?
Bears have friends – foxes, raccoons, wolves. So far, the foxes are most popular after the bears, so we do them more often. Besides, we like their embroidered ears and tails. But raccoons and wolves, sometimes appear too.
Where do you find inspiration?
We live in a city by the sea. We are doing something that brings joy to us and others people. Every week, we send parcels in different countries and get so warm feedback. We feel that wings are growing. This is perhaps the most inspiration.
Your message to customers and friends.
Dear friends, our business is very important for us. This is so indeed. It is not just a job, and not just a hobby. We are so happy that we can do our favorite work every day. We are happy to see how your children outgrow their bears. We are happy, when you and your bear become friends. Thank you for being with us!
Thank you so much, Nadya and Tanya!