Jin Kim: Wall St ex-restaurateur turns loved fabrics into cuddly teddy bears


These one-of-a-kind bears are made from old shirts, baby blankets, and even blood-soaked clothes, providing comfort to grieving families

Two bears made by JinBears LLC (left) and founder Jin Kim with a bear in her hand(right).—JinBearsLLC

Jin Kim, a former successful Wall Street restaurateur hit hard by the pandemic, has found an unexpected second career crafting unique memory bears, the New York Post reported. 

After the closure of her beloved eatery due to Superstorm Sandy and later COVID-19, Kim turned to her sewing machine and established a thriving Etsy shop, JinsBearsLLC, creating approximately 150 memory bears weekly.

After a career as a restauranteur, Jin Kim has turned to making teddy bears from sentimental material such as baby blankets. —JinBearsLLC
After a career as a restauranteur, Jin Kim has turned to making teddy bears from sentimental material such as baby blankets. —JinBearsLLC

These one-of-a-kind bears are made from sentimental fabrics like old shirts, baby blankets, and even blood-soaked clothes, providing comfort to grieving families. Kim’s daughter and business partner, Grace Kim, shared stories of customers sending in T-shirts and fabrics to memorialise lost loved ones, turning them into meaningful bears.

Jin Kim’s journey into bear crafting began as a heartfelt Christmas surprise for her grandson. Encouraged by friends and family, she opened an online shop, and the demand for her handmade keepsakes skyrocketed. 

Kim working on a sewing machine at her Palisades Park studio. —New York Post
Kim working on a sewing machine at her Palisades Park studio. —New York Post

JinsBearsLLC, launched in 2021, started in Jin’s bedroom and expanded to a studio in October 2022, accompanied by four employees to meet the growing demand.

The bears, along with custom pillows and ornaments, have garnered immense popularity, with Jin accumulating nearly 7,000 sales on Etsy and over 3,000 five-star reviews. The bears, each a unique creation, carry sentimental value for customers looking to preserve memories of their loved ones.

Jin with her grandson Lukas and a pillow she made him for Christmas in 2020.—JinBearsLLC
Jin with her grandson Lukas and a pillow she made him for Christmas in 2020.—JinBearsLLC

One customer, Julia Goodyke, received a bear in memory of her late brother, Mark, who passed away from colon cancer in 2022. The Chicago Bears shirt-clad bear serves as a poignant reminder, keeping Mark’s memory alive for Julia and her family.

Jin Kim expresses the profound meaning behind her work, stating, “When I touch the clothes, I’m thinking of the person that passed away, that person’s life. So that’s why it’s not just about the business but very meaningful for me. Fulfilling.” Jin’s bears have become more than just handmade creations; they have become tangible connections to cherished memories for grieving families across the country.



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