Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ever Wonder Exactly Why It Takes So Long to Get A Charlie Bear?

I came across a very interesting online article the other day that perfectly explains why Charlie Bears are a bit slow to arrive at US retailers.  Incidentally, reasonable delivery times has unfortunately always been an issue with Charlie Bears as can be seen in this article.  But as I always like to say when it comes to magnificent Charlie Bears "Good things come to those who wait!"

This was taken from The Telegraph entitled "Look no further for the bear necessities", and was written by Anna White. Many thanks, Anna, for this inciteful article.

 "Husband and wife couple William and Charlotte Morris won over the collectables market with their handmade teddy bear, but its popularity almost proved their downfall as a surge in demand led to a year-long backlog of orders.
The Yorkshire pair spotted a niche for good quality, yet affordable collectors’ toys, secured a Small Firms Loan Guarantee from the Government to start Charlie Bears in 2005. “There was a significant gap in the market,” said Mr Morris, 39. “There were low quality products at the bottom end of the price range that people simply didn’t fall in love with or very expensive collectables.”
The Morris’s, who met when William walked into Charlotte’s teddy bear shop in Leeds looking for a present for his mother, relocated to Cornwall and after much searching found a manufacturer in Thailand that was willing to take on this new category.
“We had a few false starts,” said Mr Morris. “There just wasn’t a manufacturer out there capable of producing quality for the right price. All the attention to detail adds to the cost but if you approach suppliers in China you’ll get the opposite - low price, mass production.”
The small plant in Thailand already made high end Mohair Bears, supplying Walmart and other major brands. The pair approached the Korean owner with the idea to use a cheaper material called plush to handmade a detailed prototype. 
 The English couple designed 12 characters and placed a minimum order of 600 of each without any commitment of forward sales. “If it all went wrong all we had was 2,000 teddy bears to keep us warm,” said Mr Morris, who had sold their home, car and speed boat to launch the business.
Charlie Bears’ meteoric rise to fame began at the Birmingham Spring Fair, where they took £20,000 worth of orders from small independent retailers in one day. “For giftware start-ups it is the place to be,” he said. By the end of their first year they generating revenues of £138,000.
And it wasn’t long before the shopping channel QVC signed them up. “QVC fell for the love story behind the brand and our first show was a complete sellout,” Mr Morris said.
The strategy was to build a following of the next generation of collectors. The full series of Charlie Bears, retailing for around £400, was already commanding prices of around £3,000 on secondary marketplaces such as eBay.
While the consumer squeeze gripped the retail industry, Charlie Bears doubled its turnover from £1.1m in 2008 to £2.1m in 2009. “The recession was our biggest turning point,” said Mr Morris. “The bad news story meant people were more savvy with their money and we had created a product that looked more expensive than it was. With mortgage rates going down people were affording themselves the odd treat.”
The intensity of demand was starting to build, but the Morris’s still ran the entire business themselves, from cleaning the “bear-house” to presenting on QVC. They were so focused on dealing with orders that they did not foresee the looming production crisis.
A combination of problems hit the company simultaneously. After every QVC show Charlie Bears’ 120 stockists would be inundated with enquiries and suddenly at trade shows they were shunning the advances of QVC in Germany and the like.
Training up skilled workers to manufacture the bear could take up to two years and the Thai factory did not have the capacity to grow with the company. As a result customer waiting times slid from 30 weeks to 62.
“Our warehouse became a transit shed and we were so busy trying to get the product out of the door that we were not trying to solve the longer term problem,” he said. “And then the complaints came.”
So the pair turned to Growth Accelerator - a UK based service which provides small and medium sized businesses with a coach to help create a long term business plan. With experience of setting up manufacturing operations in Mexico and Puerto Rica, Paul Duffy identified the need for a team of staff, a senior management team that was properly incentivised, and led them in an urgent search to find more manufacturers. “Adding more offshore suppliers was never going to have an immediate impact so we also sat down to help the current manufacturer continue to work with Charlie Bears,” said Mr Duffy.
The solution to their long term supplier issue lay in the villages of Sri Lanka, where they found four production partners and initiated training programmes from the outset, using young female hairdressers and art students to shave the bears’ faces and complete the intricate face work.
“In many cases these girls [from the ages of 18 to mid-20s] were the first female family member to work outside the home or village,” said Mr Morris. “We also worked with Government to put a facility in Kandy to provide employment for people living in the outlying villages.”
The Charlie Bears team communicated with customers throughout its turnaround, “we used social media imploring people to bear with us - excuse the pun” said Mr Morris.
The business is now generating revenues of £8.5m with 500 stockists, it supplies 37 different countries and has its beady eye on Japan and the Middle East with their appetite for western heritage brands.
“We have never sold out to volume,” said Mr Morris, “We could have turned to the likes of China to mass produce teddy bears and get us out of a hole but we stuck by our original brand values of quality over volume, and it’s paying off.” "

Quote of the Day -  "Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination." - William Longwood

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ever Wonder What Mohair Really Is And Where It Comes From?

I did a bit of research way back in the beginning of 2005 about your collectible teddy bear's mohair and I still continue to get questions regarding what mohair is.  So I thought that it would be worthwhile to track down this article, and hopefully it might be of interest to you? (I've updated it slightly as some of the products that were carried at Beacon's Glow Collectibles way back in 2005 are no longer in existence.)

"Did you know that your teddy bear’s mohair coat comes from the luxuriant fleece of the Angora mohair goat? Did you also know that their fleece is shorn from their coat similar to that of sheep?

Angora goats took their name from the ancient Turkish city of Ankara, which was very close to where they originated. The Turks thought so highly of these special goats that none left the country until the sixteenth century. The first exports landed in Spain and France, but Angoras didn't reach American shores until 1849. The most valuable characteristic of the Angora, as compared to other goats is the value of the mohair that is clipped. The average goat in the U.S. shears approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing and are usually sheared twice a year – once in the spring and once again in the early fall.

The United States has developed into one of the two largest producing nations of mohair in the world with an annual production in excess of 2.4 million pounds. This was all due to the initial importation of a small flock of seven does and two bucks in 1849.The other two principal sources of mohair are South Africa and Turkey. Texas, with a herd of 220,000 goats is the primary mohair region of the United States. The main region is on Edwards Plateau in Southwest Texas, where the mild dry climate and hilly, brushy terrain are particularly well suited for raising Angora goats due to their dry mountain origin. It is a well-known fact that Angora goats produce the best mohair in hot areas with low rainfall, which explains why Texas is well-suited for raising Angora goats.

Mohair fleece has always been the superior fabric for making teddy bears. There are many reasons for this:1) mohair has an incredible luster to it, and dyed mohair resists fading caused by time and the elements and is very hard wearing; 2) mohair is almost non-flammable; 3) mohair is considered the most durable animal fiber; 4) the natural fibers from mohair have the ability to absorb and release atmospheric moisture; 5) mohair is characteristically resistant to soiling; and 6) mohair possesses great tensile strength.Diameter to diameter it is stronger than steel!

That is why Beacon’s Glow Collectibles has chosen to become retailers of several well-known collectible teddy bear manufacturers that specialize in the creation and production of mohair bears. Charlie Bears, Steiff, Clemens Bears, and Kaycee Bears each carry this distinction.

For centuries, mohair has symbolized style and grace worldwide, and it is no wonder that nothing takes the place of mohair when quality is paramount.Collectible teddy bears made of mohair certainly earn their place as true heirloom items to be treasured by every generation."

Quote of the Day - "When you talk, you are repeating what you already know.  But if you listen, you may learn something new." - Twitter

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lots of Charlie Bears to Arrive Today!

We are pleased to announce that FedEx will be delivering a large shipment of Charlie Bears today.  As always, it truly feels like Christmas each time a bear delivery arrives to be unpacked.

Beacon's Glow Collectibles is getting a refill on several older Charlie Bears to offer customers in plenty of time to order for the holidays.

One of the most popular trios that Charlie Bears offered in the past was the lion set of Linus (lion), Savannah (baby lion), and Lyra (lioness).  We are so excited to be getting in more of these adorable lions.

It was so enjoyable getting to watch Will and Charlie on QVC for their first US appearance on September 26th.  Such an adorable couple and it is obvious that they are both very passionate about Charlie Bears. 

Since there has not been a plush teddy bear company here in the US for many years, we predict that Charlie Bears will take the US market by storm (as they have done in several other countries).

Please stay tuned as we continue to receive in more plush and mohair Charlie Bears!

Quote of the Day - "Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination." - William Longgood

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Charlie Bears Halloween Enchantment Collection on Its Way!

We are pleased to announce that we have gotten word that the five very special Charlie Bears teddies and characters are on their way to us from the Florida Bearhouse.

This is one of four special mini series from the 2017 Charlie Bears Collection.  Charlie and Alison Mills created and exclusively designed each of these characters.

In this collection there is a first for Charlie Bears - a pumpkin with jointed arms and legs and he is named Trick.

There is also a half pumpkin called Treat.  He can be used as a Halloween treat bowl or one of the other characters can sit atop him for a really cute look.

Wanda is an adorable Halloween owl and Brat is a teddy bear dressed in a rat Halloween costume.  He is made from a gorgeous deep purple plush.

And no special Halloween collection can be complete without a black cat.  Stella is up to the job and she is made from a long pile black plush.

If you have not already contacted us to be put on our pre-order list, please do as we expect these will sell out very quickly.

Happy Halloween!

Quote of the Day - FEAR has two meanings - Forget Everything and Run OR Face Everything and Rise.  The choice is yours. - Anonymous