Get To Know Local Business

Shop Hartlepool Blog

Welcome to the Shop Hartlepool blog, a great place to find out more about the amazing businesses signed up to Shop Hartlepool.

We want to shout about Hartlepool’s success stories and introduce you to the new kids on the block. You’ll find behind the scenes articles about local businesses alongside regular updates and news from the Shop Hartlepool team. 

We are always looking for great stories, so if you want to to be featured, or know a business who would, get in touch using the button below.   

Memories made with love

Small businesses often blossom from  a beloved hobby. That’s what makes them so unique and full of love. Small business owners, like Joann of Bespoke Bears who makes handmade keepsakes, give a little piece of their hearts with every bespoke item the create. We chatted to her about her small business journey and where she’d love to jet off to and escape the chilly weather!  


What does your business do?

I hand make Memory Bears, keepsake animals, cushions and quilts from clothing. The clothing is usually very sentimental as it may have belonged to a loved one who has passed away, it could be those special first baby outfits , school clothes, military uniform, work uniform, sportswear or simply a well loved blanket, jumper or bedding.

Where did the inspiration come from?

I started sewing as a hobby while I was still serving in the army as a full time soldier about 6 years ago. I was interested in making my own cushions and a few other bits and bibs for my home. I decided to make a bear from my daughter’s school uniform to donate to her school as a prize to raise money for the children. It proved to be popular and I was asked about making another by the head teacher. Then someone else asked me to make a bear from her loved one’s clothing and it just went from there.

Do I have a favourite product?

I can honestly say I don’t have a favourite, every time I make something it becomes my favourite then it’s always trumped by the next item! 

Do you think it is important for local businesses to support each other?

I think it’s important that we support each other’s local businesses, we all have a passion to give our local community that personal shopping experience and for them to see the friendly face and person behind the shop. 

Where would you choose to go on holiday right now?

If I were to go on holiday right now I think I’d choose to go somewhere warm (I’m not a fan of the cold!) so it would have to be Australia. We have family there and we would love to visit. 

What advice would you give to anyone starting a small business?

My advice is to not be frightened and to get advice from lots of different people who are in business if you are unsure about something.  It’s not easy but the rewards outweigh the doubts you have in yourself as to whether you’re doing the right thing or not.

If you’d be interested in commissioning a bespoke keepsake, then please contact Joann directly through her social media pages. You can find them on her Shop Hartlepool page or by clicking one of the links below. Bespoke Bears often have a full diary creating these one of a kind keepsakes, so be sure to get your slot booked in. They have a handy guide to how to order and what you’ll need. 

Don’t forget! They can make bears, dogs or even elephants to name a few. If an animal isn’t what you are looking for, then consider a cushion or a handing heart. There is a whole range to choose from and they turn your sentimental clothing pieces into special keepsakes to treasure.

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