British student Mary MacInnes founded her own small business in March of 2014, as part of a local challenge for youth entrepreneurship. Using a start-up fund of only £10 (about $13) and her expert sewing talents, MacInnes began making teddy bears with a special secret to them. These stuffed animals were not just cute faces—MacInnes made them from the clothing of people's loved ones to help them through bereavement.
Although the business challenge was only for one month, MacInnes decided to carry on her project, and 10 months later, she was voted Young Entrepreneur of 2014 at just 16 years old. Now, MacInnes has been making her “memory bears” for almost six years. “It sounds cliché,” she explains to My Modern Met, “but it really is a privilege to be asked to create something from people's personal possessions. The pressure to ensure the safekeeping of cremation ash and jewelry (which can be inserted into bears) is a huge responsibility. It takes 5-6 hours to design, plan, cut, sew, and complete each bear.” MacInnes' bears are all inspired by the objects her customers bring in, making each one completely unique. Some of her bears can also sit and stand.
“I really enjoy meeting my customers when they collect their bears—80% burst into tears,” MacInnes continues. “I think that's because garments arrive as sad reminders of the past, then, it's almost as if new life is breathed into them, and they become something that's much more acceptable to cuddle, talk to, and the feedback is they definitely help the grieving process.”
Currently, MacInnes attends Herriot Watt University as a fashion tech student, while juggling her business on the side. Scroll down to see her heartwarming work, and visit her Facebook page to learn more about her business. And if you're interested in commissioning your own memory bear, they start at £50 (about $65).
British student Mary MacInnes keeps very busy by balancing university and her own small business.
Using the clothing and belongings of people's loved ones, MacInnes makes sweet memory teddy bears.
These memory bears have touched countless lives as comforting helpers during the grieving process.
Mary Mac: Facebook