Margarete Steiff

The woman behind the famous teddy bear

Margarete SteiffMargarete Steiff

Have you heard of Steiff teddy bears? Or ever wondered where the name Steiff written on the label of your teddy bear comes from?

Steiff teddySteiff teddy

Margarete Steiff, born in the town of Giengen in southern Germany, contracted polio when she was 18 months old. The illness left her feet paralysed which meant that she was bound to a wheel chair.

Margarete loved school and particularly enjoyed needlework classes. She also learned how to play the zither, a string instrument. Soon she became such a good player she started teaching others.

Margarete bought her first sewing machine from the money she earned from her zither lessons. Making clothes and selling them earned her more money, which she was able to use to open her own store selling clothes.

One day, Margarete came across a pattern for a toy elephant and started making little felt elephants to give away as presents. They were so popular with the children that she made more toy animals and sold them.

A soft toy bear soon became part of Margarete’s repertoire: the Steiff teddy bear was born and became famous across the world!

Despite her disability, Margarete was able to use her needlework, business and creative skills to set up her own company. Her determination and perseverance made her and her company known and respected in Germany and beyond.

Words Ahoy! · Wörter Ahoi!

Deutsch English
die Nadelarbeit needlework
die Nähmaschine sewing machine
die Kinderlähmung polio
das Spielzeug toy
der Rollstuhl wheel chair