Inspired by her sister, Jane Davies, who is a miniature doll artist, Deb Canham began making bears in the late 1980's.
"I worked at my kitchen table making small, limited edition miniature velvet bears and gollies."
She began selling them at doll house shows and later, bear shows in the UK. "I was lucky enough to travel all around Europe, Japan and the United States, where I taught miniature bear making as well."
In the early 1990's, she began designing for Jamie Wu and the "Little Gem" company and also designing some larger bears for "Teddy Hermann Original."
Deb's transition from artist to manufacturer was a very deliberate decision. "I actually hated making the same bears more than once and really, my greater interest was in marketing miniature bears for the masses."
"I believed that if we could only get more miniature bears into the stores at an affordable price, we would grow the miniature bear industry. As much as we divide this industry into artist and manufacturers, they are both inextricably linked. For artists to do well, they have to depend on the manufacturers to pull in new collectors. Very few collectors begin with artist bears."
In 1996, Deb moved her family from a tiny village just outside of Plymouth, Devon, England to Sarasota, Florida.
"A crazy move in many respects," she recalled. "But whilst I feared failure, I actually could not live with myself if I had not given it a go."
With her aim to set up her own miniature business and present it as a true collectible, Deb created a line made from German mohair, fully jointed, with a presentation box, tag with the name, and limited edition number.
Deb created a 'Collectors Club' and Convention in order to promote bear collecting; it's aim to have fun.
Drawing on real life experiences to inspire her work, Deb creates pieces with that in mind. "I think it is really interesting for collectors if they know what the inspiration point is for a piece I have designed. I have lots of stories with lots of my pieces and I think it does matter that collectors know what is going on in my daily life."