Mail is the greatest when you’re a kid, isn’t it? It’s even pretty great when you’re an adult (as long as it’s not bills). There are so many cool products and services out there that build on that excitement of getting a treat from your friendly neighborhood postal worker.
Touring Teddies is currently running a Kickstarter campaign through March 6th. The product is a 4-week mail experience that involves a bear traveling through a foreign country (Hugo in France or Bernardo in Italy) and sending correspondence home to your child.
Founder Leah Chamish has an infectious enthusiasm about her bears. “It’s been so many years in the making, and to finally see it. It’s like, Agh! Yay!” She has no background in the toy business but says, “I’ve always been creative. I’m a mural artist; that came into play with the little sketches I created (for Touring Teddies).” And she is a mom of four who really wanted her own kids to have the experience of receiving good old-fashioned mail. Now she wants to share that with other families.
Leah says, “The idea came to me between 2003-2004. My daughter Lexi was five at the time, she was the one who was in love with teddy bears. I have four kids, and they’re all about 2 years apart. We were sitting on the floor then with books all around, and she was into this book about a bear who got separated from his owner. He would send back letters from time to time. It just popped into my head. Kids don’t get letters anymore, and wouldn’t it be cute if I just sent her a letter? She was so into the story. I thought the teddy bear could actually come home to her at the end of his travels.”
The idea stayed with Leah for two years before she put it together for her daughter. “I finally actually sat down and did the research. And actually took the time to write the letters. She was about six-and-a-half or seven when I actually did it, and completed it, and sent it to her. When she finally had the bear sitting in her arms, she was like, ‘Does this mean I don’t get any more mail?'” That’s exactly the reaction Leah was hoping for.
When you purchase a Touring Teddy for your child you start with a suitcase to fill with all of the goodies that will arrive during the month. Each week a package will come with letters detailing the bear’s adventures, souvenirs, photos, even recipes from that country that you and your kids can make at home. The last week of the month the teddy bear arrives home to stay with your child forever, wearing a t-shirt with the colors of the country’s flag.
Sound a lot like Little Passports? Yes, it does. There are obvious similarities. But you know why I’m so excited about Touring Teddies?
Because you can choose the country.
I think Little Passports is very cool. I love the idea of learning about a variety of places. But I also love choice. I love the possibilities here to focus on one place, and I can’t wait to see what new countries Leah will add. She has plans for more but wants input from her Kickstarter backers before deciding where to go next. “It actually takes a lot of research, I put in months looking into all of the little details,” she says. So she wants to make sure her bears visit places that are meaningful to her supporters.
Leah imagines this is a great gift from a grandparent, or even for a child going off to camp (love that idea). If my daughter were a little older, and I knew we were planning a trip to a new country, I would buy her something like this just to lead up to that trip.
She would have a new travel friend to take with her, she would learn and get excited about where we’re going in a more meaningful way, and we could even try to visit some of the stops to take pictures with her and the bear to match the pictures in the Touring Teddies packages. I like the idea as an experience of one place. I love it as a really fun lead-up to an actual trip.
The price is $99 to receive all four packages at once, and $119 for the 4-week plan (this covers all of the shipping). Packages should be ready to ship out to their new families in June. Check out the Touring Teddies Kickstarter here.