Back in 1999, Rob LeClair asked himself “What if they made inspirational beanbag toys?” He then asked himself “What if they produced unlimited quantities so that everyone who wants one could have one?” and “What if these inspirational beanbag toys could raise money to support Christian schools, churches and other faith-based groups?” Those questions led to the founding of HolyBears in July 1999.
Retailers soon discovered HolyBears and began to order them to sell in their stores. HolyBears grew from a husband and wife business that operated out of the family dining room into a fully staffed enterprise with 16,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. Orders began to fly in for bears that hadn’t even been announced!
“It’s impossible to put into words what a blessing HolyBears has been to our family,” says Rob. Over the years, thousands of amazing, caring people have shared compelling stories of how HolyBears have affected their own lives. Surprisingly, it’s not the growth of the business that has impacted Rob’s family the most: “It’s those stories that have impacted us all the most.”
HolyBears customers have inspired those around them with their commitment to their faith and their community. Powerful and inspiring letters pour in from around the world to share, for example, how a HolyBear comforted them both before and after losing a loved one.
HolyBears were life-changing for customers Susan and Larry W. Massey, Jr. “I was meeting Sister Pauline at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Office of Vocations, and I saw this 36-inch priest bear,” says Larry. “My wife and I have been involved with promoting vocations to the priesthood since 2006. I knew this HolyBear would be a great giveaway for the YACM summer program, so I had to find out where I could buy more.”The Masseys traced the bear to an organization in Atlanta that had special-ordered the oversized HolyBears. “I couldn’t believe it when they told me that the company was located just across town from us here in Houston,” Larry said. The Massey reached out personally to Rob LeClair, and a friendship was born.
Soon the Masseys were purchasing large quantities of HolyBears to give away to promote vocations and even designed the very first nun HolyBear. “Rob became a good friend, and we began to brainstorm ideas for new HolyBears.” Two years later, Rob offered to sell HolyBears to Susan and Larry. “We loved the bears so much that we ended up buying the company,” says Susan.As of April 1, 2022, HolyBears has come full circle and is back under the ownership of its original founder Rob LeClair.
Our Favorite HolyBears
“Which is my favorite HolyBear? All of them, of course! But if I had to select just one, it would be our very first bear: the WWJD HolyBear that started it all and has such a great message.”
“I would have to say that the Pray for Vocations HolyBear is my favorite, since it was the bear that brought me to HolyBears and started this beautiful relationship in the first place.”
“For whimsy, it’s hard for me to resist the Holy Cow bear. I’m also fond of the bears that represent first responders like Firefighter, Police, EMT’s and our military bears.”