A Story of Healing and Hope
Growing up in the mountains of Central PA, Shai Hoffer was born into a blended family of humble means. The daughter of an artist and seamstress, she was sewing and sketching by the age of four. As the fourth generation seamstress, she sewed her own Cabbage Patch doll when the family could not afford toys. Extremely shy as a child, experiencing loss and trauma at a young age, dolls became a means of healing for Shai. Her aunt and uncle took an interest in her love of dolls, and helped her begin her first collection.
Shai began working professionally as a seamstress/designer while pregnant with her fourth child. She incorporated machine embroidery into her business, and it grew very quickly. Her Etsy shop became one of the most successful shops in the world, shipping to 14 countries.
Unfortunately, her family's health began to slowly deteriorate for unknown reasons. Shai's health declined suddenly, and she almost died before doctors could properly diagnose her and her children. Once properly diagnozed, the family began treatment for Late Stage Lyme Disease. Sadly, the disease triggered multiple genetic disorders to become symptomatic. Although they have been in treatment for years and slowly recovering, their lives have been changed forever.
No longer able to work long hours on her feet, Shai rediscovered her love of dolls when a friend asked her to sew some American Girl doll items. She began customizing the dolls, repainting them, and making clothing. As mixed race herself, she specialized in creating unique dolls to aid children to connect with a doll more like them. Unable to physically function as she did in the past, dolls once again became an agent of healing while she mourned the loss of her prior life and learned to live again with disabilites.
As the pandemic of 2020 hit the globe, her four sons learned to sew alongside her, making masks for their community. They transitioned to support the family business and work as a family, sewing and creating to inspire hope and healing of the heart.
In 2021, Shai adjusted her focus to honing her skills as an artist, and was awarded the 2021 Diamond Award of Excellence by DOLLS Magazine.