Sam Schoeler and her husband Chuck ran a distribution business together from their home for 15 years. When Chuck died unexpectedly two years ago from an aneurysm, Sam says her life changed in more ways than she could imagine. “The beauty of our relationship was that we had talents that interconnected,” Schoeler said. “He was very good at minutiae and paperwork, and I am pretty good at talking to and reading people.” So Schoeler made the difficult decision to close down their business.
“When I decided I was ready to start my life over, I wanted to do something I love,” Schoeler said recently. It was then that she began planning her new career around something that has fascinated her from the time she was a small child – her love of fairy tales and folklore. “Planning for this, making prototypes, and writing stories helped me to rediscover my creativity. I’ve always loved sewing. I began making doll clothes when I was 8.”
Schoeler knew she had to make a living, but was real trouble finding a job. Everywhere she applied she says she was considered to be either “too old” or “too experienced”. Schoeler was discouraged but still determined, so she decided to do something she could really be passionate about.
Several months after her husband’s death, Schoeler showed her dolls at a craft show and a local business owner saw the dolls and asked if she could sell them in her shop. Schoeler said she was “very happy for that opportunity, I needed it at the time because it was something to do to keep my mind off other things.”
While creating a pirate fairy doll, Schoeler began to think about how a fairy might become a pirate and she says a “light bulb went on. That’s when I knew I needed to write a book to go with my dolls. It gives them personalities.”
Now her “Hawthorne Meadow” series includes five original characters – Magdor, the Pirate Fairy, Queen Glimmer, King Thorne, Wispa and Skylark. Barbara Woodbury, Schoeler’s artist sister, pitched in to create whimsical illustrations for the stories. Although the books are written for children, her collectible dolls appeal more to adults given their typical price tags of between $150 and $225.
The attention to detail in these unique handmade dolls, and the delicate nature of the decorations and fabrics attest to the fact that they are definitely not toys. Schoeler believes that her growing business will be successful. “It just feels right. I see myself over the years creating a whole new world. It will depend on my imagination as to how big this fairyland will get.” Visit Schoeler’s website at Hawthorne Meadowor read more about her story in The Southtown Star.