About Us

What is Moodybear?

Moodybear is the brand that I've created over the last decade or so. It's a clothing range that caters for a niche audience, specifically but not exclusively plus-size gay men. Moodybear has become an established and internationally recognised symbol for quality clothing and accessories that allow customers to recognise each other without necessarily exposing them to hostility or negativity.

Why and how was Moodybear created?

I don’t know, I honestly don’t. It just happened. Life doesn’t always go the way you want or desire it, and t-shirt making for me was a hobby at the point where I met Glenn (the main designer of all the characters and Justice / PAWS logos).

A bit of history:

WAY back in 2005 I met a guy running a t-shirt stall. I was sick, mentally ill, and totally unaware I was. In 2007 I got involved with the bear scene, as a punter mainly. Things got progressively harder back in the early days, and in 2008, my health took a turn for the worse. I collapsed in work from a pain in my head. Signed off, unable to work, and getting more depressed and insular. I reached out to the bear scene or should I say the Bear Scene reached out to me. By this point I was already working and volunteering running a karaoke night in the local bar – The Outpost. I was getting progressively more and more down and depressed. I would literally only be able to go to certain places, wasn't able to leave Manchester unless I knew the route, and anxiety became debilitating. The people around me noticed and were able to help me to find work. The bar offered me a weekly karaoke night, which became Beareoke, while a friend brought me in to help out with his company, the Bear University. Together we revamped it, relaunched and pushed forward. We noticed that the quality of the shirts we'd been able to source up to then was quite poor (most of them are still in a box somewhere), so we found better quality shirts. The increase in quality saw sales go up. This all gave my confidence a huge boost and I started to work outside of Manchester - Bristol Bear Fiesta, Belfast Bear Weekend, to try and push it forward a bit more. In 2010, two major things occurred. Firstly, I met Glenn in Belfast and we began to discuss designs. He had some really strong ideas and I knew I wanted to work with him. And this might have remained a hobby later that same year, when I lost my job. I now realise that what I experienced was homophobia, but back then, all I knew was my main career - something I'd dreamed of my whole life - was in ruins and I was a mess. You can imagine the impact that had. And that was when I realised I needed to turn the hobby into a full-time job.

So nine months of planning, trialling and sorting saw the launch of the first Moodybear site. A dot org site back then. We started with four designs. Rhinestone Bear, SuperBear, Batbear, and the original Moodybear logo. We didn't have a name. I pushed forward, ever trying to keep myself busy as I was unaware just how ill I was.

Moodybear began in 2011 – it birthed after the Bear Bash of that year, where people got their first look at SuperBear and Batbear. I met people, my ex, who helped get my head straight. I had the rock of a best friend who stood by me. I had people backing me and supporting me. Things needed to change. I was still running it out of my home – barely leaving the flat at times as my depression often took the better of me. I threw myself into Moodybear. It got its name. The original logo Glenn had called Moodybear, and my best friend just spelled it out for me: "Moodybear - that's you!" I was Moodybear. My mood swings, my fight, my constant battle with trying to stay with it. So it stuck. (www.themoodybear.com)

That moment it transformed, from not just being a hobby, not even just a job,  but to something I that would get me out of the darkness. I was still working the Beareoke. My support network grew. Still actively involved in the bear scene in Manchester, I begun to get known. Through social media, the name started building. My name. I'm tall, and not an easy chap to miss, so people pegged me as part of this scene. It was a scene that helped get me out of the dark pit.

In 2012 with the help of an old friend, I revamped the Moodybear look. By that point we were pushing 150 designs. The Chunky logo came into effect, a bigger bolder Moodybear, to push me forward. To get me out, and make me get better. My ex once told me, (sat on the toilet as you do) that if I want this to succeed, expect to have no life, or social scene for three years. One of the best bits of advice I ever had. That in the back of my head, I no longer worried about not getting to be social. I worked harder to make Moodybear happen. SCRUFF (A social dating app for gay men)  gave me a chance and supported me by giving me the Official UK license for my design of their merchandise. RoB Manchester (A store of gay men) got me printing their apparel. People were backing and supporting me. 2012 saw the closure of The Outpost and what we thought would be the end of Beareoke. My only regular source of income. It had been a night always full of fun and laughs, the final night in The Outpost, saw people from ALL over the country appear who had enjoyed the event. My god did I cry. The community stepped in again, we found another venue. The REM bar. Our new home. 

In 2013, a whole new site launched in the January. I moved to the studio. It was a bold move, and a BIG risk. But something I had to do. It was getting too big to run from home. People rallied round to help me move. Moodybear wasn't just about me anymore. It had become something more. Every event I had helpers and volunteers, people pushing themselves to help Moodybear succeed. I was humbled and amazed.. (and pretty teary). We even did our first Pride stall. This was a MASSIVE gamble. Once again the community backed me. The support from all walks of life, of this small business doing fun stuff really caught a lot of attention.


That year in the November, I had a huge theft of stock. The support I got from the community overwhelmed me. It struck me how far I had come. But I still wasn't out the dark times yet. I continued my fight with depression with help of friends and family around. I helped other bear companies get a boost when I could, offering support, advice. Offered an ear to those suffering as I had been. Just as was given to me. I saw it as right to give back.
 

Beareoke kept growing. We became known as the place to be on a Sunday night to cheer yourself up and get your ready for the week. People travelled from all over the world to experience this, as we start publishing videos online and building a community there.

2015 – I booked and took my first holiday in over 10 years. Not only was this a long haul, but it was a test and proof that my anxiety was losing its battle. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have stalls, then as ever, the community to the rescue. Two friends, Brian and Darren had the idea of doing a limited edition pride stock of my logo. Had I really become this brand?

2016 saw us sponsor the Human Pup Play float in Mardi Gras Australia all the pups wearing our gear. The year was going great until in the October I had my cash takings from BearScots stolen. These had been taken from my personal belongings. It played on my head a lot. When you think you are at the point of no return, you get hit by yet more surprises. Over a 100 people organised a mini fundraiser amongst themselves to reclaim the cash that had been lost. This was then presented to me, as a TOTAL surprise. I had absolutely no clue. I’m not good with surprises, and I gushed..  
 

I started DJing more – my music and nights were getting known. Beareoke and its challenge had following and people wanting me to entertain wanting to be lifted up. This I WANTED to do, and build on.

 

2017 - We had to move. We had to find a new space to run from. This was no mean feat. As we were given 4 weeks to vacate. Again, friendships played a part, and a good friend sent me a link and video to a space in Stockport. Ground floor, huge access. More rent than I’ve paid before - but it was a risk I had to take. I needed somewhere. In February the move happened. Over the space of a day, EVERYTHING went from one place to another. Around 30 guys helped. It was incredible. I asked if people had a few hours to spare could they help and my word the community stepped in again. It was a LONG day. With lots of trips back and forth. But there was also Pizza at the end! The move was costly - so I increased my DJing timetable to make sure I covered myself. This effected not only the business but my mental health. It was a necessity. What I wasn’t fully aware of at the time was in the July of that year my head snapped. I relapsed, more so than before. I was in pieces. I went back to the doctors, I was determined to not let this beat me. I was back on medication - I got referred for counselling again. This affected things more than I thought and we noticed sales falling. So I explored new avenues, new materials and we launched GEM FLEX which saw our limited edition pride tees have the biggest sales ever - and we took our first double stall at pride. The massive risk paid off, and it inspired me to keep going.

We ended the year with our first Beareoke New Year – it was phenomenal! People travelled from all over the country again to be at a place where they could “BE” and felt included. The night was incredible, and meant that we just had to make it a new annual event.

2018 - Another year, a year since the move - a year since I was taking control of my mental health. Trying to do everything is was proving hard. Again, friends and community stepped in. Helping me pick up the slack so we could get administration, and manufacturing all done. We hit Pride with optimism and excitement and were looking forward to a year or great things. At 6am on the Tuesday after Pride I got a phone call - my studio had been broken into. And all the tech equipment stolen. I posted about it to make sure people knew their orders would be late. I came off social media for a day. Again, the community stepped up. I have zero idea why they do this, but they are there, my foundation, my help. My friend Andy set up a go fund me. He set the target to cover what I had lost. It. Went. Viral. Within four days the third target had been smashed, and donations had some in from ALL over the world. A huge chunk from the USA. I was gobsmacked. I wanted to give back, so I rebuilt, rebought and pushed. Though what I didn’t realise at the time the emotional toil of the break in had had. After everything - I gave up. I know, people find that hard to believe. Despite everything being raised, and people supporting, my head kept telling me it just wasn’t worth it, and I gave in. I was around in body, but my spirit was broken, completely. So, I turned to the people who I loved and sought a way out. A way to get better, to keep moving forward.

2019 - As a thank you to all the US donators - I used what was left of the donations and all my savings to get the US Launch off the ground. It took months of planning and postage. We launched at CLAW. Why CLAW? This event is important for many reasons. It’s where two men I love dearly met, it’s were a lot of support and community came from when I attended the year previously. It where friendships we born, and not just for me. With the help of “The Daddies”  (how they are known to most people!) we launched at CLAW in April of 2019. It was worth it. They loved it, they loved Moodybear. (This is still amazing)

We soldiered through 2019 – and kept moving forward. Beareoke, Bear Bash and my involvement in the community became a firm foundation. I entertained at Pride hosting nights because people wanted me to; I helped, with the bar, to provide a space where anyone could be who they wanted to be.

I also kept up with therapy and getting the treatment I needed. By the end of 2019 things are looking up. So much so we planned our second US based event. Mid Atlantic Leather. This would take place in January 2020. Little did we know this would be the last event we would attend.

2020 – Mid Atlantic Leather event in Washington DC was massive. The connections and love felt not only from the UK but international scene where ever apparent. I wanted to give back more. I started planning more. Thinking how I could develop.

2020 – COVID – Well, that took the wind out the sails a bit. Physically, mentally, commercially and financially. Beareoke was based in a bar, all bars were closed. I was a resident DJ with no where to DJ. But, I saw a community in need of something. I switched my practice to online. Beareoke became the Beareoke Show, highlighting and showcasing videos from people all over the world. Raising spirits and keeping connections alive. Using the power of the internet and zoom. Moodybear became two entities. MrMoodybear the entertainment and DJ, and TheMoodybear for the clothing and apparel. This gave me a new focus and development. I pushed forward. I kept going. Sales took a HUGE hit as did my income, but donations and offers have kept me moving forward. I signed up to twitch.tv and started creating and streaming content. I kept DJing, albeit to myself in a studio, but broadcasting out. The Beareoke Show developed to opening up to an audience to be live and participate in the stream.  (www.twitch.tv/mrmoodybear)

I kept up with therapy, albeit online rather than face to face and developed my own awareness and understanding of what I can do. I was getting better. I still am.

In September, it was clear, there was this online community that had developed. It needed care and nurture just as much as the real life one. I had people accessing zoom socials, and interacting more and more, and through the help of a community group Manbears Manchester I was able to reach people in need. 

Depression and mental illness never fully goes away. Especially when you have other chronic conditions that often hinder your abilities. But despite the pain and the fight, I move forward. My fight isn’t anything new, I’m very open about mental health. But people often don’t understand or realise how bad it gets. Few see me in the moments of unbridled panic - or the anger and frustration. The thoughts in your head never shut up. The pain never stops. However, I am determined now, more so than ever, not only to get better, but also to work for the community that had pushed me. Working with them, finding out what they want, they need, they like.

I've had a lot of “business” issues where I've had to learn the hard way not everyone has the same views and standpoints as I do regarding the Bear Scene. We've expanded into underwear and jocks, and all manner of accessories. All this is a response to what people want and asked for. We've over 600 designs and styles, and MORE to come. New designers, new looks, new styles. All this is birthed and nurtured from within the community. Despite lots of setbacks and broken moments, I have been determined to adapt and move forward. Every setback is just a new obstacles to get over, and I want to develop my practice to help others overcome their difficulties.


I use “we” a lot when talking about Moodybear. Moodybear is not just something for me anymore. It’s a symbol for those Moodybear’s out there, that there is hope. You can beat the battles, you can fight the fights. And when you are struggling, all you got to do it glance behind and you’ll see the army you have amassed of people there ready to support you.

So why did I start Moodybear? I didn't.. Moodybear started me on the path to getting better, a path to finding friends and family. To find that Community exists and I’m going to fight for it. Want join me for the ride?

 

 

 

Share

 

Moodybearmedia 2019 All Rights Reserved

 

Mobile Site