Having enjoyed all crafts at one time or another, Helen Gleeson of Bare Cub Designs found herself attending yet another local craft fair near her home in Western Australia.
"I wandered around not expecting too much. I walked from stall to stall noticing the cross stitching, knitting, scrap booking, bears...bears?" She liked bears, but they are not a craft. Are they?
"I walked back and to my amazement, these bears were handmade! I could not walk away. Was I looking at them or were they looking at me?"
Well, that was it! No more cross stitch and no more knitting. Helen bought a magazine and on the next Saturday, she went to a class on bear making at a local shop that is owned and operated by a bear artist named Jennie Boylan.
After creating a few bears identical in size, shape and color as the original bears on display, she tried patterns using different fur. Then creativity struck. Helen started making her own designs and started to sell her bears at the local shop that she had initially taken classes at.
With the help of her brother Phil, she began working on her web site.
"At the time my brother was studying mechatronics engineering and was quite the night owl, so we would stay up many nights working on the banner and words. Then we worked setting up eBay and Etsy stores, my own Bear Cub Designs blog, web rings, guilds and, well, the list goes on."
Living in the Chittering Valley, near Perth in Western Australia, Helen shares her life with her wonderfully supportive husband Ray, her Rottweiler, cat and wild pink and grey Galah bird.
She has a full time job as an Account Executive with Australia's largest Telco companies, where she manages clients with a staggering combined revenue of approximately $7 million. "It's about a 9 hour day, with a 3 hour commute along with some after hours work that is required just to keep up. I sew each night and most of the weekend."
Of course, the bear making is only part of it all. "I also have to find time to keep the web site current, time to write on my blog and manage all the in's and out's of my online stores, as well as conduct workshops."
Helen flies to Melbourne to present Mink bear workshops which are now her specialty."I offer mink patterns, kits and now, an electronic workshop for those who can't make the trip to Australia."