handmade toys - part two - aka big plans or The Polka Dot Club

and I continue...
I mentioned in my last post I'd been wanting to begin the transition towards making toys for children.  So, over the last few years I've been quietly working on this side project - the POLKA DOT CLUB. I've alluded to it more than once, as it's been moving along in fits and starts but it's been a very challenging road. The biggest snafu came when toy legislation changed in 2007 making it nearly impossible as an artist to make toys and abide by the laws put in place and overseen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Nearly all my work was put on hold waiting to see if Washington was going to see the error of their ways- it could have been a very long wait. Lucky for me, I was introduced to Dan Marshall, the local shop owner of Peapods who became an activist. Dan, started the Handmade Toy Alliancean alliance of toy stores, toy makers and children's product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve unique handmade and small batch toys, clothes, and all manner of children's goods in the USA. We've met and talked a few times and he gave me insight into the laws, the hopeful changes, and ways to keep working. Over the course of about 5 years Dan, working with others, successfully lobbied congress to make allowances for small businesses making goods for children. I own a debt to him, for his help on both big and small matters but most of all for giving me hope that what I've always wanted to do wouldn't be "illegal" for long...

So here I am now, two children and six years later, ready to begin this new endeavor out in the open. Here's the lowdown- handmade teddy bears, made with all the materials and time honored techniques I've honed over the last 25 + years as a second generation teddy bear maker. These are bears that pay homage to the past but are wholly modern playthings for today. Heirlooms for-now and for-ever. I like that. I believe in that. So I'm starting out with 5 different bears, all a little different, all special in their own right. Everything is made right here in Minneapolis and will continue to be. I'm still sewing, I'm still adding all the one of a kind touches that make each piece special. For one, beautiful neck ties, each unique, from fabric my sister Kindra designed just for the PDC. And ahhhh, the design. My sister is a genius and I owe her so much. She's been working day and night to help me get everything ready, I can't wait to show off all the playful, sophisticated, and all out fun stuff she's created. There is so much in the works and I don't have much online just yet... but more is coming. For now, I have a minimal website- www.POLKADOTCLUB.com and I'm on pinterest and instagram ).

This weekend I head to New York for a trunk show with Misha and Puffand MANIMAL to meet with stores and finally bring this long hidden project out into the open... hello POLKA DOT CLUB.

If you have a store where handmade mohair teddy bears would be a good fit, or know someone who does, please email me- jen(at)polkadotclub.com. I'll be in New York for 3 days meeting with stores and then back home to work on the website and the webshop which will open soon- hopefully within the next month. Phew. That's a lot to tackle in a short time.

 ***All the photos are by Modern Kids Co. and are beyond my expectations.Thanks Sarah! ***


  1. And these bears of yours are the best! The pair that my girls received two Christmasses ago, is still being loved, carried around and they sleep along side them in their beds.

    And I for one, just love the feel of them. True heirlooms as you rightfully say! So proud to have them at our house....

  2. I am so happy for you! I will get in line for one of your beautiful, heirloom toy bears. Polka dot club sounds wonderful. Best wishes on your new adventure!

  3. I am so happy to read this wonderful news Jennifer!! I so admire your hard work and perseverance, even when it seemed that your dream wasn't possible.
    Your designs are all adorable and these photos are amazing!! Wishing you well with this wonderful new venture. Hugs ♥ Vicky ♥

  4. This is very exciting, Jen! I've heard about this for years and now have been out of touch. I'm thrilled to hear that it's coming to fruition. We have so much to catch up on.

  5. How wonderful!! I'm so happy you persevered!
    Enjoy the journey . . . it will be wonderful!!

    Lori Ann