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CeleBEARating Inspirational Women Q&A

May 2nd By Ellie Diaz


A New Spin on Traditional “Thank You’s”

Hello crowdfunding fans! Today I’d like to share a story about a passionate woman with one remarkable inspiring idea. PJ McGuire is the founder of NettieBears; a campaign devoted to recognizing and honoring those who have made sacrifices in their family or community. Her goal is to send a unique hand-stitched “NettieBear” to deserving men and women across the country. I had the honor of interviewing PJ to find more about her personal story, campaign, and her plans for the future.

Your project is truly inspiring. What experiences led you to this moment? How did you come up with such a unique heart felt idea?
It’s all about my grandmother, Nettie B. Davenport. She was an unbelievable woman, who did so much for her community. There are thousands of women and men in our country who go above and beyond to improve the lives of others. Despite the evil in the world, there are still good people out there and I want to recognize them. They deserve a sincere thank you. A great example is the amazing stories of selfless acts by the first responders and people of Boston after the horrific bombing.


Nettie sounds like a remarkable woman! I’ve also noticed that each of these bears are hand made and consist of recycled designer fabric. Who actually creates the NettieBears?
I do! It’s probably hard to believe that I sew the bears by hand, but I have the calluses and cuts on my fingers to prove it. When I get larger orders, I have a group of ladies who help me. It’s a great feeling to provide jobs to others and I hope NettieBear grows so much that I can hire additional hand-sewers full time.

Why did you choose to hand stitch each NettieBear, instead of using a sewing machine? My grandmother taught me how to sew, but she never used a sewing machine. So I did not learn to stitch and design with a machine. While it would be so much easier, she believed that when an item is made by hand there is more care, quality and love put into it. Using a sewing machine on NettieBears would strip away some of the unique qualities and birthmarks that come from sewing by hand.

You’re completely right, hand stitched products are more personal and carry their own story. So how do we nominate a woman who has created an impact in the community?
When we reach our crowdfunding goal, we will launch a dedication website on July 16, 2013. If someone wants to dedicate a bear, they simply tell their story. The crowd will identify the top 100 stories by sharing or voting. Essentially, the crowd will fund it and the crowd will determine to whom we should send the bears.

What goal do you intend to reach during your campaign with FunderHut?
To make my dream come true, I need to raise $20,000. That will help me give away 100 bears hugs to deserving women and men. Ideally I’d like to give away 365 bears, one bear a day, but that will require over $70,000 so I’m starting with just 100 bears.

If you were to reach that $20,000 goal, what would it mean for your community? For you? For women around the country?
For me it means that I’ve honored the legacy of my amazing grandmother and allowed others to honor special men and women in their lives. It also spreads positive energy, joy and smiles that are so needed in our communities right now. The success of the campaign should be proof of the concept and the demand potential for retailers who might want to stock bears in their stores. Reaching this goal opens doors to unlimited possibilities for a sustainable company. Successful women-owned and minority-owned small businesses bring new jobs to our communities.

Minority Owned Small Business

If readers can’t contribute money, how else can they help you establish the NettieBear campaign?
Spread the word! Tell your friends, family, coworkers and everyone you know about the NettieBear Motherly Love campaign. Share the link to the campaign on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or any social community. .”

Although men can be nominated, why did you choose to put an emphasis on mothers and women?
A Mother’s love is special, intimate, and unlike anything else. I’m carrying on traditions of a strong woman who made things easier for my father and our entire family. Most women universally embrace the heartfelt gesture of a teddy bear gift regardless of their race, ethnicity, age or economic status. When a person (man or woman) cares, nurtures, sacrifices and protect other people from the bottom of their heart – that’s motherly love. We desperately need more motherly love and less violence and war!

When I look at a NettieBear I think of my mom, my grandma, and all the other fabulous women who have led an inspiring role in my life. I imagine empowering women who never let anyone stop them from achieving greatness. What does a NettieBear represent to you?
Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s exactly the same kind of reflection that I see. I also see that NettieBear represents a combination of familial love and legacy. But even more, NettieBear is my daily example of an ability to triumph over difficult circumstances through the support of friends and family.

p>There’s no denying you have an incredible amount of passion for your mission. So now let’s talk about the business aspect of your project. Did you know anything about crowdfunding before you started your campaign?
I’d heard of crowdfunding but knew very little about it. Lucky for me I have some great friends who helped me get up to speed. I still have a lot to learn though.

What made you decide to choose FunderHut as your crowdfunding platform? FunderHut is based in Chicago and their team has been personally involved. I’m a “people person” and I personally met two of the three co-founders. I liked the fixed vs. variable option which isn’t offered by many other crowdfunding platforms, but I was very impressed by the founders’ interest and commitment to support local communities.

(Grand) Motherly Love  Teddy Bear

How has FunderHut assisted you with the first steps of making your wish become a reality? FunderHut has been AWESOME! They loved NettieBears from the very beginning. Not only do they have a plethora of resources that I used to get my project up and running, but they also provided personalized coaching and tips for successful project management. You don’t get that type of help from other crowdfunding platforms!

Let’s take one second out of our busy lives to think. Imagine one person, whether it a friend, neighbor, family member or perhaps even someone you’ve never met before, whose strive towards the greater good is utterly awe inspiring. When we question the humanity of this world, these are the people that bring us back to simplistic concrete definition of “goodness” and “sacrifice.” Wouldn’t you want to thank them? One bear, one hand-stitched comforting bear, can provide the gratitude of a million “thank you’s.”

PJ has raised money by contacting her friends and family, but now she needs your help! Make the world a little brighter by donating or spreading the world. As PJ’s grandma would say, “There is beauty in everything and everyone, you just have to take the time to look.”

Donate Here: Nettiebear Project!

For more unique gifts and gifts ideas, please click here!


3 thoughts on “CeleBEARating Inspirational Women Q&A

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