Houston native Dr. Tameka Maiden, a pharmacist and former teacher, developed the idea for Cubby Love Bears, a line of bilingual teddy bears that teach children colors, numbers, and other primary skills in English and Spanish, while she was trying to teach her daughter Tori about colors. What began as an inventive way to help her daughter learn soon blossomed into a full-blown toy brand that just celebrated its one year anniversary on June 1.
Cubby Love Bears, which run between $29.99 and $39.99, come in several colors. Children can activate the bears by clicking their paws. The bears promote dual language learning.
Recently, Cubby Love Bears welcomed a new cuddly companion to its den: Auzy, a bear that helps nonverbal children communicate basic needs like “I need to potty,"”I’m sleepy," and “Will you play with me?"
Maiden took time to share the story behind her toy brand and talk about what the first year in business has been like.
Q: For those that aren’t familiar with Cubby Love Bears, could you describe what they are?
A: Cubby Love Bears are my furry, bilingual babies. They’re bears that teach kids different concepts such as their alphabet, the days of the week, their numbers. What’s so cool about them is that even if the kid doesn’t know English they can learn Spanish and even if they don’t speak English, they can learn English. So, it’s kind of the two-fold concept of the bears that makes it so cool.
We launched a non-verbal bear which is Auzy bear and Auzy bear helps kids that are nonverbal so we’re super excited about this. This is our new addition to our Cubby Love Bear family.
The brand is just basically bears that help kids communicate, those who are verbal and those who are nonverbal.
Q: How did you develop the idea for Cubby Love Bears?
A: So the idea developed when my daughter was trying to learn her colors and I originally wanted to create a toy that could help kids have a companion and have something that could teach them. So, we were having a difficult time learning colors and I decided to create a stuffed animal bear that when you press the paw, a voice-activated and it would light up and it taught her colors. And at the age of one she knew her colors in English and Spanish.
It was the simple, repetitive method that was used that just let her explore on her own and she was learning to talk at that age so it was stuck in her head and she learned it.
It was amazing to me. Once I saw that it benefitted her I was like, wow, this could actually help other moms. That’s when I started making the bears.
Q: How did the Cubby Love Bears help your daughter developmentally and how can they help other children who use them?
A: They’ve helped her tremendously. She’s in private school and the developmental stimulation of the second language has helped her memory skills.. So, with that, she was able to skip two grade levels at her school. At that age, their brains are developing their capacity so the more you feed into it, the more you retain so she was able to move up two levels at her school because of the foundation I’ve created with the bears. And now, she’s even able to pick up on other words that are not in the bears.
With the other kids, it will help them to create that foundation. It can help a kid learn a second language and it also helps with their cognitive functioning as they develop later in life.
Q: How many bears do you have around your home right now?
A: Oh my gosh, they have literally become a part of our family. They’re in my truck and my closet and my room and her room. We have bears everywhere. But the bears, they’re made with so much love that it brings such joy to our family when they’re around. Just being able to see the creation of it, it’s just a warm feeling. And it’s a teddy bear, you know, who doesn’t love teddy bears? We have tons of bears everywhere.
Q: Did you ever imagine you’d create an education toy line for children?
A: No. Not at all. And we just celebrated our one year anniversary on June 1st. When I originally started [Cubby Love Bears] it was just the color set but within a year, we’ve launched five additional bears so it’s super exciting that we’ve gone and created more bears. I never fathomed that this would happen and that we could create so many other bears that kids all over the world, and that’s literal, would love the bears.
I get emails from parents all the time about how the bears are helping their kids, how much the kids love them, how the nonverbal bear, which is Auzy, has changed their household, how they’re thankful for me creating something that could help families in such a small but impactful way. It’s had a great response.
Q: What is it about Houston you love so much?
A: I think it’s the love, the Southern hospitality that we have with each other. I just couldn’t fathom leaving it, you know. I’ve visited other states and cities and Houston has always felt like home and just a safe haven for bringing a family into this world and venturing off to new adventures and starting my brand.
Q: What do you like to do with your daughter in Houston? What Houston activities do you suggest for other parents?
A: We love just being outside, even though it’s hot. It’s always perfect for just exploring nature and doing water-type activities. We love bike riding and just doing things that are fun and outside that kids mostly love. They hate being inside. I think Houston is great for those types of things, the museums that we have here. The thing that I love about Houston is that it’s such a large city that there’s always something going on for kids.
For more information or to purchase your own bilingual bear, visit Cubby Love Bears online.