The century-old family business Steiff invented the first stuffed animals, including the legendary Teddy Bear!

Steiff is a family-owned company renowned for its high-quality plush toys. Based in Giengen an der Brenx, Germany, since its foundation in 1880, Steiff has an amazing history that is marked by the determination and creativity of its founder Margarete Steiff. Despite the polio that affected her legs and right arm at the age of 18 months, the founder overcame these physical obstacles to become an expert seamstress and successful leader in the felt industry. Coincidence led Margarete Steiff to dedicate herself to the manufacture of plush toys. The elephant-shaped pincushions she made and sold in her small factory quickly captured the hearts of toddlers, and became popular toys. The entrepreneur was thus introduced to plush manufacturing and quickly expanded her range of plush toys, all handmade from natural fibers, surpassing the softness and durability of popular toys of the time. The early 1900s were a prosperous period for the Steiff company, which began exporting its products to the United States, and welcomed Richard Steiff, the founder’s nephew, into its ranks after his studies at the Stuttgart School of Applied Arts. The highly creative Richard Steiff invented a toy bear initially named “55PB” for its size (55 cm), its material (plush) and the mobility of its limbs (mobile). The bear, nicknamed “Teddy Bear” in 1906 in honor of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, was a great success in the United States. By 1907, one million teddy bears had been sold worldwide. Over the course of the 20th century, Steiff collaborated with several cartoon companies, including Disney, and manufactured their famous plush characters. In 1980, to mark its centenary, Steiff inaugurated its museum. Since 1997, the company has organized an annual festival at the museum, including an auction of rare plush toys, dedicated to admirers and collectors. Today, the sixth generation of the founding family runs various companies in the Steiff family group, which it controls through the holding company Steiff Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH. Since 1981, the Steiffs have been successfully diversifying. In addition to plush toy making and the production of baby and children’s clothing, they manufacture custom industrial components in their subsidiary AIGO-TEC GmbH.

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