Joel Hoy's grandmother agreed to teach him to sew, but only after he could thread a needle. Not with one of those little wire needle threaders, but by himself. It took a lot of practice. He finally came back with a threaded needle. He was ready to sew up a storm. Her scrap drawer was fair game. Several stuffed animals and dolls had very nice new aprons, scarves and dresses.
Studying theatre in college, Joel found his way to the costume shop. Pleased that he already knew how to sew, the shop foreman put him to work immediately. Joel became a part of the costume shop crew. He worked there most of his college years. After college, Joel worked as a freelance costume designer. Designing shows as diverse as Annie, The Ransom of Red Chief, The Taming of the Shrew and the Mystery of Irma Vep, among others.
Lifelong passions for color, fabrics, antiques and toys, led him to teddy bears. Faced with a Christmas gift list much fatter than their wallets, Joel Hoy and Daniel Epley needed a plan. A friend had given them a Teddy bear pattern. Synthetic fur was on sale at the local fabric store. A plan was made. They made a dozen bears. While stitching away, the designer in Joel kept coming up with ideas of shapes, colors, techniques, and materials. Before long he was making his own patterns and his own creations of mohair and alpaca. Joel has been making and selling bears since 1992. THey have come a long way since those first Christmas bears. Many of Joel's creations are dressed in elaborate costumes, combining his passions for bears, fabrics and costuming.
Joel and Daniel owned and ran Dolls Bears & Funny Hares in Mission, Kansas for many years. They also ran the Teddy Bear Jubilee, in Overland Park, Kansas. Joel currently works in accounts receivable at a local college. He spends the day playing with numbers, but in the back of his mind...he is always playing with new ideas for bears.