A blog from Sarah Holmes, managing director of Merrythought.
I can’t quite believe we’re celebrating nine decades of the magic of Merrythought in September. It’s such a huge achievement for us as a business, and all those who have been a part of Merrythought’s life since the doors first opened 1930.
To mark this milestone we’re launching our #MyMerrythought campaign and asking our wonderful Merrythought fans from around the world to share their photographs and memories or stories about their own Merrythought teddy bears and experiences.
To kick start the campaign, I thought it was only appropriate to share my own special Merrythought memories.
Merrythought has been a huge part of my life since I was born.
The company and brand was created by my great-grandfather, Gordon Holmes, a true entrepreneur who quickly developed Merrythought into being a major player in the toy industry within just a few years. Surviving the challenges of World War 2, he passed his expertise on to my grandfather, Trayton Holmes, who joined in 1949.
My father, Oliver Holmes, really took the brand to new heights, establishing a worldwide collector following and really growing the export side of the business.
My two sisters and I always loved visiting the factory as children. I remember how we used to jump around in the stuffing and cause it to fly everywhere, much to the frustration of my father!
We were also ‘guinea pigs’ for new designs – my father would bring home a new character for us to test out, and if we didn’t engage with it, or it didn’t stand up to being pulled around a lot, it didn’t make the new collection!
A family business
Growing up, I always hoped there would be an opportunity for me to be involved with Merrythought in some capacity, but taking on the role of managing director happened a little earlier than expected.
I’d only been working for the company for a year when my father passed away, and the decision to stay and step up was made for me.
We’ve recently welcomed the fifth-generation into the world of Merrythought, through my son Rollo - here he is with his own Merrythought Edward teddy bear.
If you’ve explored our website you’ll know all about our rich heritage and fantastic history.
From the first collection designed by Florence Attwood, a remarkable pattern maker who overcame many challenges associated with being deaf and unable to speak, to our workforce using their skills to help the war effort during World War 2. You may have spotted that our teddy bears have been given to several members of the British royal family, and we even created the official teddy bear for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
You can read more about the last 90 years here.
We’ve also worked more recently with iconic British brands such Burberry, Fortnum & Mason and British Airways, and supplied exclusive teddy bears to the official Royal Enterprises.
I’m immensely proud of all that Merrythought has achieved, and especially that we continue to hand-make each teddy bear from the same original factory here in the world heritage site of Ironbridge, Shropshire;
When I find a few spare moments, I particularly enjoy reading the many letters I receive from the Merrythought community.
These are often about teddy bears that have been passed down for generations and are still being enjoyed fifty, seventy or even eighty-plus years on, while others talk about how much joy and hope someone’s Merrythought bear has given them through life, or how a family has kept a tradition of giving one of our teddy bears to each new baby.
It is because of these heart-warming stories that we thought we’d bring the Merrythought community together for our 90th birthday, and ask our followers to share with us any photos, stories and memories of their teddy bears.
See the wonderful photographs we received in our future blog.