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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Passport to Fun: Bears Tour World

Some of our favorite childhood memories are the adventures we have with our stuffed animals. Children take them to school, on vacation, and to the doctors. Most would never dream of leaving their stuffed friend at home.

Mary Beth Minton knows just how special a teddy bear can be, and that's what sparked the idea of a line of educational teddy bears. With the help of her children, Minton launched "The Adventures of Zylie the Bear" out of her Greenwich home this month. The collection includes stuffed bears, an interactivewebsite, clothes, accessories and books about Zylie's travels and the friends she meets along the way.

"It was a concept that started to form in my head about 15 years ago," Minton said. "I noticed that one of my daughters preferred playing with stuffed animals over dolls."

Now, you may be asking yourself, what makes this bear different than all of the other stuffed bears out there? Zylie is designed to be jointed like a doll, allowing her head, arms and legs to move and change positions. Zylie's adventures take her around the world, offering a chance to teach kids about different cultures.

Minton created a prototype using her background as a seamstress. She explored what was on the market and learned that there was nothing quite like her idea. As Zylie sets out to explore the world, she is joined by Shen, an equally stylish panda from China. Each bear comes with a carry bag, an educational storybook and, of course, the essential passport. Zylie and Shen also come with a wide array of clothing to mix and match outfits.

Minton's son, Matt McCarthy is in charge of marketing the brand. He planned a method to use the Internet as the brand's main marketing tool. "With the stories behind Zylie it is really easy to play them out online. It's all about the virtual aspect," said McCarthy. "We weave in a lot of educational elements into the books themselves and we're trying to include educational fun features onto the website like games and small quizzes."

For now, the family is building the brand through social media, and waiting for the holiday shopping frenzy in the fall. The bears are also sold at Smart Kids Toys on East Elm Street.

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