The loss of a loved one is always a harrowing ordeal to cope with. More than their absence, the lingering presence of their memories will always break your heart and make you wish they were there with you.
Most of us surely have a memento of a loved one we keep with us all the time. It can be anything from a worn-out keychain to a perfume-stained shirt.
Inspired by this touching sentiment, Mary MacInnes created Memory Bears.
The 21 year-old designer takes precious clothing of people who had passed away and turns them into plush teddy bears as keepsakes for her clients. The Memory Bears can be included with jewelry and even ashes!
Special requests can be made to add pockets to the back of the bears, to keep letters and other belongings.
MacInnes did not always wanted to make Memory Bears. She started her sewing career in bridal industry while studying fashion technology at Heriot Watt University. Her passion won her the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award when she was just 16.
She made her first memory bear five years ago as a favor for her friend. Soon, she started receiving requests to make more of them, which she declined. She was determined to pursue her studies and a career in bridal.
“I gave in to requests for bears and once I uploaded photos to my page it just exploded – so at the moment I’m fully committed to making them,” she shared with Metro. Each bear takes about 5 to 6 hours to come into fruition, design, planning, cutting and sewing included. The bears are created in either one of her two studios in her hometown.
Priced at $64, the bears are not made into toys. They are more of a gift or personal possession for her clients to keep the memories of their loved ones alive. Though MacInnes is fully invested in what she does and enjoys every bit of it, she admits that it can be emotionally draining at times.
“Recently I had a 37-year-old man pleading with me to make his two daughters aged 10 & 12 bears before Christmas. He insisted on paying in full and gave me £10 extra asking me to post them to his girls. It turned out he has terminal cancer and won’t see Christmas. I cried the whole time I cut out, sewed and stuffed those two little bears,” her statement expressed.
Despite the trying times, she says that she’s privileged to be given an opportunity as such. It’s not easy for people to share something so personal with a stranger hence she’s filled with gratitude for being allowed a glimpse into her clients’ lives.
“I love seeing their faces take on character and I’m absolutely loving life. I really enjoy meeting my customers when they collect bears – 80% burst into tears. 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. They become something that’s much more acceptable to cuddle and talk to, and the feedback is they definitely can help the grieving process,” she prided.
MacInnes mainly operates her business on her Facebook page, Mary Mac. Due to popular demand, her waiting list is filled up until Christmas as of now.