|Michelle Waldron of Holt Hill Bears got the passion for teddy bears early on. Growing up in Texas, she started this love affair with a childhood bear named 'Blue' and by the age of 10, was an avid collector.
"I started collecting manufactured bears and had wonderful shelves in my room full of all kinds of bears."
As she grew older, she continued to collect them through her high school and college years, and was later introduced to artist bears.
"Because of this connection with teddy bears, I joined a teddy bear club called The Teddy Bear Patrol, a non-profit organization supporting neglected children and families through donated teddy bears. We gathered bears and donated them to assist in efforts to comfort families and as a member, I met so many others that also loved teddy bears; many who were actual artists designing and creating their own bears."
The organization brought in speakers from manufacturing companies like Hermann, Steiff and Stearnsy and introduced Michelle along with the other members, to how the teddy bear got started and their presence in the industry.
"We had a lot of great times and it was wonderful getting to know all the artists. It was then that I learned the difference between the manufactured and artist bears," she said.
Through the club, Michelle was introduced to the world of 'in-person' teddy bear shows. When she attended her first show; "I was amazed at all the creative, unique and beautiful bears that each artist designed.
I met so many people and learned how they got started in business.
Inspired by their stories, I bought my first artist pattern and fur."
Although she procrastinated for quite some time in the making of the bear, Michelle spent time reading more about what was involved in creating bears and worked her way through tutorials.
"I consider myself mainly self-taught in this wonderful art," she confided, and continuing, "In my family there was a lot of creating going on through crafts like sewing, beading and cross stitching, just to name a few. All this helped me so much with my creativity."