Teddy bear creator has taken ‘incredible journey’
Most of us, at one time or another, have owned a Teddy bear. We’ve hugged them, poked at their eyes or used them as decoration, either on a bed or on a shelf. We love their kind faces, their soft fur and upturned mouths. But have we ever thought about who designs and makes these cuddly creatures?
Meet Gloria Rosenbaum, the artistic creativity behind Rosenbear Productions.
Rosenbaum, who calls herself complicated and eclectic, made her first Teddy bear in response to the incredible pain brought about by numerous operations. She wanted something to cuddle against her abdomen to bring comfort. She created Huggy Fuzzy, the first curly-haired bear.
“At first people didn’t know what to make of him because he was different,” said Rosenbaum from her Ranchos home. “But his charming personality won them over. He was a huge success at the Los Angeles Wholesale Market. We wrote over $35,000 in orders. And when Xavier Roberts, who started Cabbage Patch dolls, showed an interest, I knew we had something hot.”
Huggy Fuzzy became the anchor point of Rosenbear Productions. Before Rosenbaum knew it, she was a hot commodity, and the demand for her bears and dolls continued to grow. At one time she employed over 28 people from her base in Bridgeport, Calif., and then Gardnerville.
n Bear insanity. “It was bear insanity,” said Rosenbaum. “Anything that was a bear was a success. The market takes dips, but never goes away. My husband, at the time, was the business mind of Rosenbaum Designs, and I was the artistic inspiration. We made a great team.”
As the reputation of Rosenbear Productions grew, so did the demands on Rosenbaum’s time. Disney contacted her and invited her to design the first porcelain dolls based on Disney characters.
“I made the likeness of the characters from their movies,” said Rosenbaum. “My dolls were sold in all of the Disney stores and at the theme parks.”
Macy’s in New York City devoted a window to Rosenbear Designs during the Christmas season. She designed Teddy bears for McCalls Patterns. She made bears for Marie Osmond. And she still designs bears for Annette Funicello’s Teddy Bear line, marketed through QVC.
Rosenbaum attributes part of her success to the genes running through her family. “My aunt and uncle are world renowned artists,” said Rosenbaum. “I had difficulty in school, I am dyslexic, but I always excelled in art.”
The success became heady, and Rosenbaum paid the price as another gene reared its ugly head.
n Price of success. “The pressure of the business was so bad,” said Rosenbaum. “Somebody wanted something from me all the time.”
Rosenbaum turned to alcohol and drugs.
When contracts weren’t met, the business faltered. Rosenbaum lost everything, the business, her home, cars and furniture and her husband – everything except her creative talent.
“Even that disappeared for awhile,” said Rosenbaum. “It wasn’t until I decided to do something about my addictions that it came back to me.”
Rosenbaum will celebrate eight years of sobriety on Dec. 23, 1998. Yet she was reluctant to share her sobriety with her friends and business associates for the first year or two.
“How do you suddenly announce that you are sober?” said Rosenbaum. “I hurt a lot of people and disappointed even more. They needed to see that I was sober, not just hear it from me.”
“It’s been an incredible journey. I was sitting at home and my sponsor told me I needed to get a life. She made me apply for a job at Carson Detox Center. At first I wondered what I was getting into, but I took the job and it really grounded me. Through the center and the program (Alcoholics Anonymous) I’ve made friends like I’ve never known before.”
While at Carson Detox, Rosenbaum became an intern substance abuse counselor and marketing director before leaving in June. She hopes to continue working in the field, perhaps as a drug and alcohol lobbyist.
“I have a story to tell,” said Rosenbaum. “And I want it to make a difference. I’ve seen what works, and what doesn’t work, and quiet honestly, the drug courts aren’t working.”
Rosenbaum’s goal is to form a mix of counseling and bears in her life. She has a big project in the works that she isn’t at liberty to discuss. And there is a possibility of being “rehooked with Disney.” In the meantime she is still designing for Annette Funicello and Marie Osmond and making and sculpting one-of-a-kind dolls and Teddy bears for special order. She also teaches sculpting, both individual and group sessions.
n Gift from God. “My sponsor once told me that what I have is a gift from God – I’m only the tool. She told me to get out of the ego trip,” said Rosenbaum. “This time I want to make sure that I go slowly and cautiously. I refuse to make the same mistakes I made last time.”
As well as rebuilding her business and actively pursuing her goal as a lobbyist, Rosenbaum hopes for a Teddy bear and roses future.
“I want to meet somebody and have a happy life,” said Rosenbaum. “I want that white picket fence, meet my soul mate and do it all over again sober. My sobriety is a gift to me. I am very, very blessed. I just know I am going to flourish.”
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