During a trip
to London many years ago, Joyce and Bob Byers came upon a unique series of
porcelain figures in an antique shop. These pieces, which appeared to step right
from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel, captured the spirit of 19th-century
England for Joyce.
Back home, Joyce came across a set of paper machè choir figures that seemed to reflect the true spirit of Christmas. While debating whether or not to
purchase these as gifts, she was struck by an idea . . . she could try to create caroling figures with the feeling of 19th-century England and Christmas.
An amateur artist with a degree in fashion design, Joyce began working on the project using materials she had at home.
She was already adept at handicrafts and enjoyed
seeing her creations come to life, Joyce’s first figurines made her think of
characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but these early creations
looked quite different from the Carolers® figurines as we know them today.
who saw the Carolers that first Christmas adored them and over the next few
years received the figurines as gifts. A neighbor suggested taking the figurines
to craft and antique shows, and the Carolers Sold Out quickly. At one show, Bob
was approached by someone from a display company who said that his firm would be
interested in buying figurines if they could be enlarged and altered according
to their customers’ needs. Joyce rose to the challenge, thus determining the
fate of Byers’ Choice.
Over the next
few years, Joyce, Bob and their two sons spent much of each autumn making
figurines for friends, craft fairs, a few stores, and the display company. After
the Carolers began overwhelming the Byers’ dining room, they converted their
garage to a work-shop. In 1981, with the addition of full-time helpers, the
family hobby was incorporated, and Bob and Joyce officially cast their lot with
Choice Ltd. is still a family business that hires skilled handcrafters and
professionally trained artists, In order to meet growing demand, it became
necessary to make changes in both the method of manufacture and, to a limited
extent, the appearance of the figurines. While today’s Carolers are very
different from those produced in the early years, almost everyone agrees that
they like the current look best. Joyce sculpts the original molds of the faces
and designs most of the clothing for the Carolers. Meanwhile, Bob tends to the
financial and administrative side of the business. He also oversees the
company’s extensive charitable giving to a host of local, national and
international concerns. In 1987, the job of overseeing each figurine through
production fell to son Robert, while son Jeffrey joined the family business in
1990 as marketing manager.
The history of
the Carolers is a good old made in the USA story. With a lot of hard work and a
dose of imagination, Bob and Joyce Byers have seen their hobby grow into a
successful business dedicated to serving the customer and, through their
philanthropy, the community. With the boundless energy of the Byers’ Choice
family, the Carolers should only get better.
The Byers' choice Editor: Pam
Byers Designer: Dawn Byers