Bespoke Bears & Co Makes Keepsakes Using Loved Ones’ Clothes

  • 0
  • March 31, 2024

Bespoke Bears & Co. specializes in crafting the most endearing keepsakes. What distinguishes them is their use of sentimental garments in the creation process.

As I scrolled through their Facebook account and read the stories behind each 18-inch memory bear, I found myself going aww too many times. I saw a few made with baby clothes, as remembrances of children’s younger days. But majority were touching tributes to those who have passed away. Aside from the usual tops and bottoms, other options for materials are scarves, shawls, light jackets and sweaters, neckties, blankets, and socks. Additional embroidery can be requested, I spotted a few bears with dates and names stitched on their paws. The creativity and ingenuity poured into each commissioned bear are impressive, every piece is clearly a labor of love.

This bear was crafted for a father whose daughter is now a teenager. The materials used are from his daughter’s clothing when she was much younger. The Supergirl shirt, in particular, was worn by her during her 1st birthday celebration.

These bears were shared by siblings. Crafted from a shirt and jeans that belonged to their father, who passed away from Covid. And adorned with floral details from a blouse of their mother, whom they lost 20 years earlier.

“It really takes a lot of time and effort to make one bear. From choosing what clothes to use and arranging how to send to meticulously designing the bear itself and deciding which print goes where, then crafting it. We have to work closely with our clients every step of the way to ensure that their vision is brought to life with every detail,” relates proprietor Bethsy Rodriguez.

I imagine the process to be very emotional for the clients, I’m sure Bethsy has witnessed a lot of tears. “Always!” she exclaims. But she empathizes completely because she went through a similar experience when she worked on her initial masterpiece. It all began last year as she pondered ways to honor the 30th anniversary of the passing of her father, Atty. Salvador San Juan. “When I held my dad’s barong, when I made it into a bear, I cried. There was a flood of memories that it evoked. I remember seeing him wearing the barong when I was still in school,” she recalls. For her second creation, she painstakingly assembled her dad’s neckties into a bear.

These are the bears that Bethsy Rodriguez crafted in honor of her late father, Atty. Salvador San Juan. The one on the left was made with his barong Tagalog. The one on the right was from his neckties.

The bears have opened a new channel of connection. “I find myself talking to my dad when I see the bears,” she confides. Her personal journey became the driving force behind entering the business, she wanted others to feel that intimate link as well.

The response from clients has been incredibly gratifying. “Our bears have become cherished keepsakes, they are tangible reminders of loved ones. Memories and emotions are attached to them. Seeing the comfort, gratitude, and tears of joy from those who receive the bears, having a positive impact on someone’s life, it’s so fulfilling,” she reflects.

As a retiree with a three-decade career in the banking industry under her belt, she never saw herself running such a business, especially not at this stage of her life. She inherited her mother Florinda Advincula-San Juan’s artistic flair (both ladies belong to the UP Sigma Delta Phi sorority – Society of Dramatics and Fine Arts) and has always been drawn to creative pursuits like watercolor painting and cake decorating. However, starting this second career was unplanned.

These bears were designed to remember a brother who was known for his distinctive attire of white shirts and colorful socks.

A daughter requested that her late mother’s clothes be transformed into bears, which were then given to the grandchildren

Propelled by her passion for preserving memories and fostering connections, she has set aside her post-retirement aspirations of a leisurely lifestyle for entrepreneurship. “My sons are the ones urging me to do this. They tell me, ‘Sometimes you feel aches and pains because you’re not busy. You have to move, you have to stand up, you have to do something.’”

But the 56-year-old receives more than just rah-rah from her family. Her husband, Rannie, who hails from a family in the textile industry, takes charge of sourcing the raw materials for the bears. It’s worth mentioning that they use hypoallergenic polyfiber as stuffing for their creations. Her 27-year-old son, Rocky, oversees the financial and marketing aspects while her 22-year-old son, Ram, handles social media management duties. “I didn’t even know Instagram before this, I was more familiar with Facebook” she laughs. The boys have gone the extra mile by creating forms, tables, and a tracking system to help her stay organized and be efficient.

It’s really sweet how they also keep an eye on her progress and remind her of deadlines. Their commitment is to deliver seven to 10 working days after approval of design. “My sons are the ones who are aggressive, they’re so excited,” she says. “They love hearing the stories. The process has become deeply personal and meaningful. Listening to clients, understanding their grief, trying to capture their loved ones in our creations, it’s something that inspires and motivates us.”

Bethsy Rodriguez with husband Rannie and sons Ram and Rocky

Crafting bears has added another beautiful layer to Bethsy’s life, something she squeezes in between playing wife and mom, and tending to her hydroponics garden. Though the demands of production can occasionally be stressful, the sense of fulfillment she gains from finishing a bear far outweighs any challenges. “It gives me so much joy, I get so excited for them to see, for them to hold the bear. It’s their bear!” she enthuses.

This memory bear was made with the clothes of a beloved baby girl who was gone too soon. The bear was gifted to her brother who was born after she had passed away.

For more information on how to order memory bears, you may reach Bespoke Bears & Co. on Instagram and Facebook.

New from Bespoke Bears & Co.





All images are from Bespoke Bears & Co. 


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.