Why and how was Moodybear created?
I don’t know, I honestly don’t. It just kinda happened. Life doesn’t always go the way you want or desire it, and t-shirt making for me was a hobby at the point where I met Glenn (the main designer of all the characters and Justice / PAWS logos). WAY back in 2005 I met a guy running a t-shirt stall. I was sick, mentally ill, and totally unaware I was. In 2007 I got involved with the bear scene, as a punter mainly. Things got progressively harder back in the early days, and in 2008, my health took a turn for the worse. I collapsed in work from a pain in my head. Signed off, unable to work, and getting more and more depressed and insular, I reached out to the bear scene or should I say the Bear Scene reached out to me. By this point I was already working and volunteering running a Beareoke night in the local bear bar – The Outpost. I was getting progressively more and more down and depressed. I hated who I was and what I was feeling. I would literally only be able to go to certain places, wasn't able to leave Manchester unless I knew the route, and anxiety became debilitating. Those around me, noticed and to help got me work. The bar, offered me a weekly Beareoke night, and to keep me busy and occupied a friend got me involved in his company “Bear University.” Together we revamped it, relaunched and pushed forward. I started making the shirts, as well, the quality we were being sent was just terrible 10% of the time. Most of these are still in a box somewhere. So the increase in quality, sales went up. I started going to different events, Bristol Bear Fiesta, Belfast Bear Weekend, to try and push it forward a bit more. In Belfast I met Glenn. This was 2010. We talked briefly about designs he has and I said I would LOVE to give them ago. In 2010 I lost my job and career. You can imagine the impact that has. Something you dream of, then in ruins. I was a mess.
9 months of planning, trialling and sorting saw the launch of the first Moodybear site. A dot org site back then. We started with four designs. Rhinestone Bear, SuperBear, Batbear, and the original Moodybear logo. Back then we didn't have a name. I pushed forward, ever trying to keep myself busy as I was unaware just how ill and depressed I was.
Moodybear began in 2011 – it birthed after the Bear Bash of that year, where people got their first look at SuperBear and Batbear. I met people, my ex Master, who helped get my head straight. I had the rock of a best mate that stood by me. I had people backing me and supporting me. Things needed to change. I was still running it out of my home – barely leaving the flat at times as my depression often took the better of me. I threw myself into Moodybear. It got its name. The original logo Glenn had called Moodybear, and when seeing it, the best mate, coined the face that that was me.. I was Moodybear. My mood swings, my fight, my constant battle with trying to stay with it. So it kinda stuck..
That moment it transformed, from not just being a hobby, but to something I that would get me out of the darkness. I was still working the Beareoke. My support network grew. Still actively involved in the bear scene in Manchester, I begun to get known. Through social media, the name started building. My name. I'm tall, and not an easy chap to miss, so people pegged me as part of this scene. It was a scene that helped get me out of the dark pit.
In 2012 with the help of an old friend, I revamped the Moodybear look. By that point we were pushing 150 designs. The Chunky logo came into effect, a bigger bolder Moodybear, to push me forward. To get me out, and make me get better. My ex Master once told me, (sat on the toilet as you do) that if I want this to succeed, expect to have no life, or social scene for three years. One of the best bits of advice I ever had. That in the back of my head, I no longer worried about not getting to be social.. I worked harder and harder to make Moodybear happen. SCRUFF gave me a a chance and supported me by giving me the Official UK license for my design of their merchandise. RoB Manchester got e printing their apparel. People were backing and supporting me. 2012 saw the closure of the outpost and what we thought would be the end of Beareoke. My only major source of income. Once again the community came to my aid, I had given them a night of fun and laughs, the final night in the outpost, saw people from ALL over the country appear who had enjoyed the event. My god did I cry.. The community stepped in again, we found another venue.. The REM bar, and to this day we are there every Sunday.
In 2013, a whole new site launched in the January. I moved to the studio. It was a bold move, and a BIG risk. But something I had to do. It was getting too big to run from home. People rallied round to help me move.. Moodybear wasn't just about me any more. It had become something more. Every event I had helpers and volunteers, people pushing themselves to help me succeed. I was humbled and amazed.. (and pretty teary)
That year in the November, I had a huge theft of stock. It broke me. I was in pieces as I had no idea how I could recover. The support I got from the community overwhelmed me. It struck me how far I had come. But I still wasn't out the dark times yet. Numerous depressive relapses, but I still fought, and with help of friends and family around. I helped other bear companies get a boost when I could, offering support, advice. Just as was given to me. I saw it as right to give back.
2015 – I booked and took my first holiday in over 10 years. Not only was this a long haul, but it was a test and proof that my anxiety was losing its battle.
Depression never fully goes away. Especially when you have other chronic conditions that often hinder your abilities. But despite the pain and the fight, I moved forward. I was determined now not only to get better, but also to work for the community that had pushed me. Working with them, finding out what they want, they need, they like. 2016 – We've done a lot. 35 Pups all in PAWS tops in Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. Biggest Pride Stall I have ever done, expanding the ranges to new designs and looks. We’re looking for new premises. Not through choice I might add, so at the moment that is playing a lot on my mind. I've had a lot of “business” issues where I've had to learn the hard way not everyone has the same views and standpoints as I do regarding the Bear Scene. We've expanded into underwear and jocks, and pushing a new BDSM range, to appeal to a wider market. All this is a response to what people want and asked for. We've over 600 designs and styles, and MORE to come.
Moodybear is not just something for me any more. It’s a symbol for those Moodybear’s out there, that there is hope. You can beat the battles, you can fight the fights. And when you are struggling, all you gotta do it glance behind and you’ll see the army you have amassed of people there ready to support you.
So why did I start Moodybear? I didn't.. Moodybear started me on the path to getting better.