In 1986,I worked with a nurse who mentioned she had a bear-making class coming up. My daughters were aged 2 and 7 at that time. I had made a few bears from a McCalls pattern for my girlies and was interested in expanding my bear making abilities so took her up on it.
My first bear was made of inexpensive plush and very loosely jointed with cotter pins. Not too impressive, but I kept trying and after I discovered mohair, there was no stopping me. I soon started designing my own patterns. After everyone in my family and many friends had received bears as gifts, and to support my mohair habit, I decided to make my bears available to collectors and started Swan Valley Bears.
I had considered BaroneBears which sounded pretty good, but we pronounce it Baroney (like baloney). Most people pronounce it Barone (rhymes with loan). Everybody Loves Raymond's family pronounces it that way. And, really, BaroneBear pronounced in the "loan" version just doesn't sound right. So . . . when doing research for a new name, I discovered that Swan Valley, Montana has the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 and they have an area where the bears are protected. I loved that, and with visions of one of my bears riding on the back of a swan, it was decided. So January 1, 2007, Swan Valley Bears was born.