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Dragons Embrace Cuddly Loughborough Business

As far as business ideas go, Jo Proud’s is pretty straightforward; teddy bears that represent different moods and emotions. It’s a sweet idea, but one which is oh so simple…

However, sometimes it’s those simple ideas which work the best as the Leicestershire mum found out when she visited ‘Dragon’s Den’ earlier this year, with her cuddly creations in hand.

Picture: BBC

After pitching her ‘Mood Bears,’ Jo became the first contestant to win the backing of all five business experts on the BBC show, melting the hearts of Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Sara Davies, Steven Bartlett and Touker Suleyman.

She accepted a £20,000 investment in return for a combined 25 per cent of the company, which she runs in Loughborough alongside her husband Nathan.

Jo founded Mood Bears when she was struggling with her own mental health, having recently been through a difficult period.

“I never did this to make a business out of it, I just did it as a way to make myself feel better initially and it just kind of spiralled from there,” she told Pukaar.

“I originally created the bears from doodles that I was doing when struggling with my own mental health. I decided to have one made up and when it arrived, I knew that I had created something that could support others.

“Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and now we’re barely able to keep up with orders!”

Since ‘Mood Bears’ were set up in 2019, thousands have been sold across the UK. Hundreds more have been donated to children’s hospitals and community groups.

Each teddy bear represents a different mood, in line with the moods and emotions we all experience. The bears come with an uplifting message and poem designed to offer comfort to their owners.

Thanks to the Dragon’s investment, Jo will now be able to expand her business and bring a mental health boost to more people around the world.

Speaking about her experience on the show, she said: “It’s not an easy thing getting in that lift, but you pluck up the courage and you do it. I can’t remember a lot – I think the adrenaline must have been so high, but I’m glad I did because I got a fantastic outcome and hopefully the bears will spread far and wide.

“I’m very emotionally attached to the business, and I do believe in it so strongly,” she added.

“I think that came across very well and think that’s why all the dragons wanted to be involved in it too.”

The future of ‘Mood Bears’ looks bright – especially with five Dragons on board to help boost the brand.

“This is definitely an investment made with the heart as much as the head but sales are going strong and we are already discussing the many ways we can expand the range,” said Deborah Meaden.

“Jo’s pitch was passionate and it is clear this is a business with purpose.”

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