Women sew memory bears from Covid-19 victims’ clothing


Andrea Valdez-Rivas, Contributor

Editor’s Note: Quotes from Karla Muñoz and Eréndira Guerrero were translated from Spanish to English. 

Karla Muñoz, a 41-year-old entrepreneur from Ciudad Juárez, never thought she’d be making teddy bears for a living.  

The bears she makes aren’t just regular, furry friends—they’re made with the garments of people who have passed away 

“People can’t just keep their loved ones’ clothes stored in boxes,” Muñoz said. “(The clothes) should be on display.” 

With this philosophy and the five years of sewing experience Muñoz had under her belt, she launched her business Recuérdame Por Siempre in November 2019. 

The first bear Muñoz ever made was with clothes that belonged to her brother, who had passed away. Soon, Muñoz’s friends began asking her to transform loved one’s clothing into items they could keep by their side.  

In addition to the bears, Muñoz makes pillows and blankets. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help people adjust to safety guidelines, Muñoz also makes face masks.  

Muñoz said that while COVID-19 cases spiked in late 2020, so did her business.  

“And right now, I’m overflowing with orders. Very, very overflowed. I’m booked until March,” Muñoz said.  

Muñoz has made about 150 teddy bears, pillows, and blankets from the garments of people who have died from COVID-19. However, Muñoz said it’s not always easy to acquire the fabric from her clients.  

“There are people who only have one of their family member’s garments, so it’s very difficult to detach from it then give it to me,” Muñoz said. “(My clients) entrust me with the garments as if they were their children.” 

The entrepreneur assures her clients the garments are treated with the utmost respect. Since opening her business, Muñoz said she’s never disappointed someone with the results. 

“And when I deliver (my clients’) teddy bears, they are fascinated, they cry, they get emotional,” Muñoz said. 

Like Muñoz, Ciudad Juárez artisan Eréndira Guerrero is dedicated to the same craft.  

Guerrero began her business, Muñecas Late-litatwo and a half years ago by making traditional Mexican dolls and face masks. Her business, especially her hypoallergenic teddy bears, recently gained international attention. 

Because of this, Guerrero said she’s been overloaded with orders, but delivers each product within two to three weeks. Each bear Guerrero makes comes with a comforting messagein English or Spanishsewn onto the bear’s front. 

Guerrero said her delivery of the teddy bears to people who have lost a family member to COVID-19, does not compare to orders she’s made before the pandemic. 

“Clients get emotional and eventually their eyes flood with tears,” Guerrero said. “They’re not just looking at a teddy bearthey’re looking at the memories they shared with their loved ones and what they meant to them.” 

Since the beginning of the pandemic in the borderland, she’s made nearly 200 teddy bears in relation to deaths brought by the virus. 

However, both Muñoz and Guerrerooffer items for various occasions that go beyond tragedies.  

“My business is a seasonal one,” Muñoz said. “Valentine’s Day is coming up and for that I print couples’ photographs on the bears. After Valentine’s Day we have Mother’s Day, then graduations, in which I get lots of orders.”  

To learn more about Recuerdame Por Siempre” visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RecuerdamePorSiempre2019. To learn more about Muñecas Late-lita visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/latelitamex 

Andrea Valdez-Rivas may be reached at [email protected]@AndreaVRNews on Twitter.