“I’ve created All Creatures because I wanted to put Carte Blanche Greetings back on the map as one of the best plush creators/producers in the UK,” states Paul Haines, brother to the company’s founder Steve about the company’s new brand launch which was revealed to the company’s sales team a few days ago.
Significantly, the All Creatures collection of plush animals has no association with the Me to You, Tatty Teddy or My Blue Nose Friends.
The new brand debuts encompassing 18 animal characters, translated into two sizes of plush as well as a plush keyring, available on a specially created FSDU.
Paul’s 30-year pedigree in plush is matched by his credentials on the animal front, as a result of his own menagerie on his Devon farm, which has resident sheep, alpacas and chickens.
As to the range name, Paul says All Creatures “evokes awareness, and feelings, that many of us have for all the animals and creatures that we are still fortunate enough to have all around us in this country in particular.” He cites the huge viewing figures of TV programmes Country File as further proof of this.
Up Close and Personal…Paul Haines
How did you start out in the plush world?
“I started in plush with Bullion Box in 1989. Over the ensuing 10 years I developed a bespoke plush business which gave me the opportunity to produce the first BBC approved Pudsey Bear for Children in Need; various plush animals for charities such as the Dog Trust (then Canine Defence League); Word Wildlife Fund and PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), as well as plush under licence for the Channel 4 TV programme, Pet Rescue. I was also involved in producing own label plush to New Look, Claire’s, Birthdays and Next over those wonderful years.”
How did you come to create the Me to You/Tatty Teddy plush?
“The story began in 1999 when I showed my brother [Steve Haines, CBG’s founder] the first Tatty Teddy plush sample on his boat in Brighton Marina! In year 2000 we shipped 5 million pieces to the UK, which is how I ended up joining forces with CBG, and partly why I still can’t seem to get away today – even at the age of 60! Oh no!”
Tell is more about your real life menagerie…
“It began back in Sussex where I was able to buy my first property with land. We had chickens, alpacas, horses, cats and dogs, and we always loved the ‘country life’. After nearly 10 years in Sussex, we fulfilled a long-standing dream to move to the West Country, and more into an animal farming environment. We now live in a beautiful part of East Devon in a very strong livestock farming community. In addition to the animals we brought with us, we now have some 60 or so sheep on our farm. We do everything ourselves, including buying at auctions, lambing, foot trimming and worming, feeding etc. We sell our lamb meat, either as live stock or meat parcels, to local individuals or to the local market. We will grow our flock to over a 100 sheep next year. Our principle aim is to give our animals a happy and healthy experience while they are in our care, and to try not to become too attached to them while they are with us!”
What is the key ingredient with plush?
“For me plush has to be instantly appealing to the eye and to touch. This is why I have used the best fabrics, the right stuffing materials and a manufacturer that can make the final designs look and feel the same way in production as their initial design.
With All Creatures I have tried to portray each animal character in the way a young animal would look, so I’ve spent a lot of time referring to images of real animals (as well as my own animals here on the farm) to end up with a unique blend of cute and realistic.”
What animal or bird would you like to be want to be? “An eagle I think – far from the madding crowds!”
What is your favourite character in the All Creatures collection? “The sheep – no surprises there!”