Bear Cottage was created in the early 2000s by Rhys Bugden and his mother Pam Greenhalgh. They started by making teddy bears, transforming synthetic fabrics into cuddly children’s toys. Rhys’ grandmother was a toymaker who passed down her meticulous crafting skills to the next generations.
Over time, Rhys and Pam’s creations evolved and they experimented with new fabrics. Their craft is now focused on designing and fashioning bespoke clothing accessories and homely decor out of luxurious fur.
The mother-son duo make deluxe possum fur blankets, cushions and clothing, including hats, scarves and slippers. They made the switch to possum fur in the name of conservation. The predators are destroying New Zealand’s pure forests and native wildlife. Instead of possum fur going to waste when the pests are hunted, Rhys and Pam have made the most of the fine, super-soft fibres.
Bear Cottage’s owners lovingly hand-make each possum fur piece in their home workshop, based in sunny Whakatane on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
While their artistry has moved on from bears, the Bear Cottage name is reminiscent of where it all started. Bear Cottage now sells some of the most popular teddy bears in the world, stocking a range of Gund bears and Paddington bears. Selling only the best, the online store also stocks high-end merino wool clothing, made in New Zealand by McDonald Textiles with the finest fibres.
In 2019 just before Christmas my wife died next to me in a car accident. We were hit head on near Rotorua, New Zealand when another car crossed the center line. She suffered massive chest and neck injuries which was too much for her to survive. I had mostly stomach injuries and almost died twice and was in various hospitals for 3 weeks and had to go back to hospital after 1 year for another stomach surgery. Almost 4 years later I still get stomach pain but has slowly got better with exercise and healthy eating. My wife was from Taiwan and living in New Zealand for 2 years when the accident happened. She was a nurse and received a phd in nursing shortly before coming to New Zealand. After a long immigration process and nurse training to work in New Zealand she got a job here in Whakatane hospital but only got to work 4 months and she was one of the main nurses to help the people involved in the White Island eruption. Most things she saw she didn’t want to share with me. She was the only partner I have ever had and I loved her very much and miss her like crazy. It’s hard to move on but move on I must and will continue in business even though there are many days I want to give up. In early 2023 my neighbour who I often talked to about my struggles and who shared with me his marriage difficulties took his own life. I refuse to go out that way. I also play classical guitar and improving all the time as I enjoy that and I never get any stomach pain when doing that. Thank you for supporting my business. I really do appreciate every sale and it helps me to keep going as these days stress and depression really get to me even though I do get help. Little things that did not bother me in the past now get to me much more and the world can seem a very dark place. My story was covered in the media and can be found by checking these links.
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