STITCHING QUEENS: Sewers, Paula Hearn and Bonnie Hood at the new Toowoomba Hub that opened in February.
STITCHING QUEENS: Sewers, Paula Hearn and Bonnie Hood at the new Toowoomba Hub that opened in February. contributed

Tambo Teddies creating jobs and joy in the community

AFTER taking over Tambo Teddies five years ago, co-owners Alison Shaw and Tammy Johnson are not only creating unique gifts for loved ones, they're providing employment opportunities for newly arrived refugees.

Selected as a business finalist in this year's Multicultural Queensland Awards, Tambo Teddies has been recognised for its partnership with Multicultural Development Australia in giving jobs to refugees from Syria and Eritrea at its regional sewing hub in Toowoomba.

Mrs Shaw and MrsJohnson created the hub in February when they struggled to find enough people in Tambo to sew the bears after the introduction of digital channels made the business grow significantly.

"It's a win-win for both,” Mrs Shaw said. "They're delighted to have a job and it's wonderful how they're embracing being part of Tambo Teddies.

"They've begun following us on social media and buying bears themselves to give as presents.

"It's fantastic that they're so understanding and proud to be part of a business that delivers special gifts to loved ones.”

Created in outback Queensland, Tambo Teddies are tenderly crafted from woollen sheepskin and individually named after a farming property in the Tambo district.

"The business has been around 26 years, so it just shows teddy bears never go out of fashion,” Mrs Shaw said.

"Grandparents are buying it for their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren or even themselves. It's a long-lasting good Aussie product that makes people think of their childhood.”

Multicultural Affairs Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he was excited by the quality of the finalists.

"The theme for Multicultural Queensland Month is 'we all belong' and the work carried out by these finalists has helped create that sense of belonging here in Queensland in many different ways.”

The winners will be announced during Multicultural Queensland Month at a ceremony on August 30 at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane.

"It's very exciting, we're delighted to be selected,” Mrs Shaw said.

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