For Silke Borrmann of "The Mountaineers," her company name was an idea of her sister Antje. "It refers to the area where I have lived my whole life; the Harz Mountains which are a low mountain range in Germany."
Early on, Silke's found that she liked to make things by hand. She learned to knit, crochet, embroider and draw. She also attended and was originally trained in tailoring/dressmaking before moving on to a technical design school. "It's odd now that I work in an office!"
Which unfortunately does not leave her much time for her favorite hobby; bear making.
Years ago, while visiting a fair in Germany, she came upon the inspiration for her new passion, teddy bears.
"From this point on, I wanted to make teddies!" As luck would have it, a local class was being offered in bear making and Silke signed up immediately.
Her first bear was one that was designed for children and only had one joint at the neck, with the legs and arms being only string-jointed.
"At first, I sewed bears using standard patterns. It did not last long because I wanted to design my own bears."
With a friend, they joined a pattern making course in Hanover. She attended an adult education class which taught her to use mohair and how to make a bear with five joints.
The course was so much fun that she found herself registering for it every six months!
At this point in time, she started to design her own patterns.
Ten years later, Silke's passion for bears has only continued to grow.
"Since I've been sewing only bears and animals from my own patterns, I develop about 3 or 4 patterns creating about 10 to 15 bears each year."
Her secretarial job keeps her busy, but she is always working to improve and to learn new techniques in her designs.
Currently, Silke has been designing her bears and animals to look more like those found in nature.
Using mainly alpaca and leather, her creations feature six joints, wired arms and legs with noses and claws that are hand modeled.
She sells her bears over the Internet and tries to participate at least once a year at a fair in Germany.
When ever she can Silke continues to attend workshops to expand her knowledge. Her sister remains her sharpest critic, giving all Silke's creatures their final check.
Silke has received awards and nominations worldwide and also creates "crafting packets" for those wanting to create their own "MOUNTIs." (Silke's pet name for her Mountaineer creations).