In the mid-1970s, New Yorker Barbara Isenberg searched store inventories of plush toys and found them wanting. Isenberg wanted for her own young son a teddy bear with the quality, charm, and soothing textures she recalled from her own childhood. So, she started the North American Bear Company (NABCO) to produce just such a toy. Isenberg called on a fashion-designer friend Odl Bauer to make a bear from an old sweatshirt that would be soft, cuddly, and unlike anything on the market. The toy Bauer designed evolved into Albert the Running Bear, a classic teddy bear in a jogging suit that appealed to children and adults. Isenberg oversaw the design and development of NABCO products and turned finances, sales, inventory, and order fulfillment over to her partner and brother, Paul Levy. A year after Albert the Running Bear appeared, NABCO offered a series of bears made of velour dressed and named to recall famous people and celebrities or VIBs (Very Important Bears) such as William Shakesbear, Humphrey Beargart, and Chef Bearnaise.