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Alison Shaw

Tambo, Central Queensland (including Mackay/ Isaac/ Whitsunday)

The town of Tambo has a proud tradition of producing sheepskin teddy bears loved across the globe. A new group of locals have continued the tradition by taking Tambo Teddies into the digital age.

I'm Alison Shaw from Tambo Teddies, and we are in Tambo in outback Queensland.

Tambo Teddies create handcrafted sheepskin teddy bears in the middle of the outback. We'd had drought and crashed wool prices and the government came through all these little western towns that were suffering and held workshops. About a hundred people turned up and threw around ideas, and out of that, 3 women decided to start a business creating sheepskin teddy bears.

Our typical customers really are grandparents and they are looking to purchase a gift for a baby, a grandchild, that's lasting, that has value. They see the value in these products, see that they're not something that's just going to be thrown away.

I've just finished my degree 2 years ago now in marketing in business, so that was certainly very helpful, because when we were looking at buying the business I was doing some of my assignments on Tambo Teddies.

It's fulfilling, very fulfilling, really enjoy it. It's also challenging, there are always challenges, which are just something you address and that's fun too really.

The small town of Tambo, located in the heart of Queensland, was hit hard when wool prices crashed while gripped by drought. The tight-knit community was challenged to create a solution and Tambo Teddies, unique teddy bears made from wool pelts and stuffed with wool, was a possible answer.

Proudly Australian made, Tambo Teddies found themselves in homes all over the world, including royal palaces in London and Copenhagen. Every handmade Tambo Teddy is unique - individually named, numbered and registered online. Tambo became the outback teddy bear capital of Australia. The business relied heavily on passing tourists, growing to the point where they employed 15 locals.

When the first of the original teddy bear pioneers decided it was time to retire from the company, it was feared Tambo had produced its last teddy. But 3 new locals stepped up and, implementing an innovative marketing and digital strategy to bring the business into the global marketplace, tripled turnover in their first year.

The creation of a digital presence has been instrumental in business growth and social media has attracted a whole new generation of customers. In-store customers are seasonal and profits were never steady or reliable. Incorporate an online presence and establishing a group of stockists has enabled the company to have a steady year-round revenue stream.

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