Profile: Loteni Bears
 
 

Lindy Mullard is the driving force behind Loteni Bears. Although she still remembers the bears that she was given when she was a child and that had originally been owned by her father and her aunt, Lindy first really became interested in teddy bears in the late 1980s following a trip to Lincoln. It was there that she visited several teddy bear shops. Little did she know at the time just how much this trip was going to change her life!


  Lindy Mullard With Some Of Her Loteni Bears
 

Following the all important visit to Lincoln, Lindy started to collect bears. She then decided to make them - not only because she had grown to love them so much, but also following a "suggestion" from her husband, Derrick, as he believed that she would stop buying teddies if she was making them instead! This idea somewhat backfired however - all it means now is that she has a little spare cash to buy even more!

Lindy's initial "attempts" were made from fur fabric and she still has "Chocolate Chip", the very first bear she made. Indeed, she recounts a story about the time that, one day, she proudly spent every available opportunity displaying "Chocolate Chip" to all her long suffering work colleagues, but that when she tried to make him more comfortable on the car passenger seat on the way home, his head came off! Lindy says she was so glad that it had happened in private and not earlier on at work.

Following the "Chocolate Chip" episode, Lindy continued with her bear making and, after about 4 more "experiments", she felt she was ready to progress further. So, in 1991, she enrolled onto the first ever Teddy Bear making workshop to be held in the UK. This was attended by many other budding bear makers, some of whom are now amongst the best known names in the bear world today. Lindy felt that, not only was the weekend great fun, but also very helpful and informative. In fact, for sentimental reasons, her favourite bear is the first one she made out of mohair following the course.

 

Barford, Beetley and Booton
 

Following the success of the workshop and a further "design weekend" that same year, Lindy decided to set up her own company, designing and making bears. It seemed that the name she chose for the business - "Loteni Bears" - was pre destined. "Loteni" is the name of Lindy and Derrick's favourite place, a beautiful tranquil area in the foothills of the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa, which was where they used to escape whenever they could whilst they were living in Durban. Since their return to the UK they have named their two homes (the first near Aberdeen and now in Norfolk), after this special place and so it seemed impossible to call bears that were born at their "Norfolk Loteni" anything else!

Lindy prefers the look of traditional bears and this is reflected in her designs. She says that she is still excited by holding a completed bear knowing that it started life as just an idea in her head and a flat piece of material on her dining room table.

The bears are made mainly by Lindy, although she has help from Derrick with the jointing of the larger bears (the largest is 18"). For the majority of the bears, Lindy machines the arms, legs, head and tummy seams, handsewing everything else, although when she makes a bear that is smaller than 4", it is made entirely by hand.

On average it takes Lindy 9 hours to complete a bear, at which point Derrick carries out a final, objective, quality control check. It is at this stage that they decide what to call the bear (all names being taken from Norfolk villages).

 

Blickling, Puddledock, Brundall, Pentney and Binham
 

Loteni Bears can be identified by a label on their back, a brass button on their scarf and a tie on label. The label incorporates the Loteni Bears logo, which is made up of a bear drawn by Derrick, as well as hearts which Lindy wanted to include to reflect, not only the love she has for bears, but also that which they give to people.

Loteni Bears are made either as "one offs" or as "limited edition" runs of between 15-20 bears, depending on how popular Lindy feels each design could be.

The main stockists for her bears are Teddy Bears of Witney and Bear Bottoms in Durham, both shops being supplied fairly regularly throughout the year. Indeed some of Lindy's designs are exclusives for each shop. Her bears have also been sent to overseas customers, as far afield as Australia, Singapore, Switzerland and South Africa.

 

Auntie Mautby, Watton, Toftwood and Miss Hethersett
 

Lindy has been so pleased with her work that the only regret that she has is that she didn't start making bears even sooner!


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