|Twenty-five years ago, Suzi James created a bear to comfort a close friend in the hospital. From her desire to sooth her friend's anxiety and bring him hope through his ordeal, she found herself on the path of a new adventure and a new way of thinking.
The creation of that bear proved highly rewarding for Suzi and that one bear grew into a hobby which eventually turned into a profession when her son, Bron, was born in 1992. Her new found passion enabled her to stay home with him and also continue to work.
When her friend for whom she had created her first bear passed away, she found herself drawn towards a spiritualism she didn't know anything about until his passing.
"I found I gained comfort from the belief that he was still with me, even though I could no longer see him in physical form, and my new belief introduced me to a very different way of life."
Curious to explore these new aspects of her spiritualism, she began learning about the use of crystals, hands-on healing and exploration into the ideas of spiritual guides, angels and faeries. After a few years of learning about it, she opened a little shop where she sold her bears alongside spiritual items such as angels, faeries and crystals, among other things.
"Here I was able to sit in the shop and create my bears whilst customers came in and looked around, some stopping to chat a while."
Although Suzi had always had a pull to be close to nature, her new view of life gave her a new appreciation of nature and the elementals.
Not able to resist that pull towards nature any longer, she moved to the New Forest a few years ago and now enjoys early morning walks through the forest each day.
"I am constantly moved by the energy of the trees and all the nature around me; inspiring me to begin or complete a little "bear" soul."
"I can feel the magic of the faeries as they tend to each flower bud and I envision them dancing in the heather and amongst the trees and the thoughts of their antics lighten my being and empower my creations."
Each day, her walks inspire her and give her visions of the future bears she wants to create. When she returns home, she then sketches them onto paper before designing and starting to work on them.
Because of the influence of the forest on her designs, she decided to re-launch her business under the name SuziBear Designs (formerly Kingston Bears).
All the new designs are connected to the healing properties of the forest in some way; protective energy from the Oak tree, prosperity and "dreams coming true" from the blackberries or healing properties from the crystals that some bears carry with them.
"I like to think that these new bears spread the message that nature is truly awesome and with each bear I create, I aim to bring about a realization of just how magical this planet is that we live on and how Mother Earth can helps heal us with her gifts."
Suzi's loving nature also extends to animals and she is currently working with her son, Bron, on a magazine aimed to bring awareness about cruelty towards animals. She is even giving a percentage of her sales of her first SuziBear Designs collection towards the Free the Bear Fund, based in Perth, Western Australia. The organization helps to stop the abuse, neglect and illegal trading of bears.
"I wake every morning knowing the day ahead will be filled with energy from the forest and that I will be creating another little soul with that energy. I hope that by teaching and showing others the sometimes hidden qualities in the world around them, the little souls I create will help our animal kingdom and earth in some way. I am striving to help protect our animals from abuse and suffering and I would like for the animals to be free to roam as I feel they should."
Once a week, Suzi travels from the peace and tranquility of the forest to the hustle and bustle of London, where she has a stall at Covent Garden Arts and Crafts market every Thursday.
"It is a fantastic place to be, extremely friendly and lively and from there, some of my bears have made their way to new homes in many different parts of the world." Suzi loves making new acquaintances and finding loving homes for her bears. "If ever you are near by to Covent Garden, please come and find us and say "hello"...it will be lovely to meet you."