Out-of-work anthropologist Vickie Hartland has found her groove recycling old jeans to create bears that bring comfort to people around the globe.
“Making Comfort Bears is my accidental business,” Vickie said when I met her recently at the Cairns Esplanade Markets.
“When found myself out of work, I made a bear for my grandson and put a picture on Facebook then suddenly got orders from all over the world.”
“People grieving the loss of loved ones have got something they can cuddle.
“When my brother died, his youngest son started sleep walking and we’d find him curled up in a wardrobe or under his dad’s clothes until he got a Comfort Bear.
“For years after my sister lost her husband, she still had his pillow and uniform in a zip lock bag so she could still smell him.
“Another lady whose dad had passed away 10 years earlier still had all of his clothes until she got one of my bears and was able to let go.
Vickie said the Comfort Bears were also ideal for children with autism because they liked a sense of everything the same every day.
“While a child sleeps, you can pop the bear in the washing machine and dryer, then take it back into them and the child never knows it’s gone.”
Vickie’s handmade bears are created from up-cycled denim jeans.
“It’s ridiculous how many jeans end up as landfill. We don’t wear jeans all year round and every season people get new jeans and the old ones end up either in op shops or as landfill.
“My first trade was an upholsterer. I haven’t done it for many years but I’ve gone back to my original skill set.”
You can meet Vickie at the Cairns Esplanade Markets every Saturday, 8am to 4pm by the Lagoon.