Little stuffed bear from Quebec makes friends by helping to soothe infant pain
If you have a child younger than eight years old in Quebec, chances are you have come across the soothing powers of the Béké-Bobo therapeutic teddy bear. Known as Kissy BooBoo to English speakers, the little bear stuffed with cereal grain helps reduce pain and inflammation.
Engineer Maggy-Nadyne Lamarche invented the little bear for her own daughter Camillie when she was 15 months old.
“We found out she would need major surgery if she was to survive. She was operated on but developed chronic pain,” she says.
Lamarche was consumed with researching ways to relieve her daughter’s pain by reducing inflammation of the child’s intestines. It was a time-consuming and emotional project, but after three months she found a solution; a blend of natural dry cereals inserted into fabric cut in the shape of a bear. After warming in a microwave, the humidity discharged by the teddy bear helps soothe inflammation.
“She was 18 months old when I developed the cereal mix and saw her first real smile,” Lamarche says.
The innovative teddy bear has since become a common sight in the homes of small children in Quebec and across Canada. Now, Béké-Bobo has set off on a mission to bring comfort to children across the seas in Europe. Lamarche is confident the little bear will find its way.
“Because it is efficient, it has an excellent reputation and Europeans have confidence in Canadian products such as medical devices,” she says.
Lamarche says government programs like CanExport and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service have helped her find her way to becoming an exporter.
“I used CanExport for the marketing steps in France and the trade commissioners to identify potential distributors. Without the CanExport program, my export project would not have worked. I would have run out of money even before the bear’s accreditation with the CE medical device mark,” she says.
Lamarche sees big potential for the soothing bear in Europe.
“France alone represents the possibility of multiplying my turnover by 10 in a short time since they have 888,000 births per year compared to 80,000 in Quebec. In Quebec, we have been selling an average of 22,000 bears a year for 10 years.”
Lamarche says she has overcome many obstacles along the way, but is confident of further success in new markets.
“France is a gateway to Europe. Despite a misstep in 2017 with the signing of a contract with a distributor who has since gone bankrupt, we were able to sign with another in April 2018 and finally started sales in France on a larger scale.”
And what of little Camillie?
“Against all predictions, she is now 21 years old and is studying fashion design in university in order to maybe take over from mom one day.”
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