CARBONDALE -- Sometimes, an idea born of need is one that changes a life. That is the case for Diane Hill.
The year was 2005. After 30 years as a flight attendant, Hill found herself unemployed after a round of layoffs by the airlines. She landed solo in Southern Illinois, wanting to be closer to family, but found an economy lacking in job opportunities.
"There were no jobs that were even comparable to what I had done," she said.
After considering her option, Hill decided to take a stab in the business world.
"I had always loved sewing and crafting," she said. "So, I decided to go into business myself."
That decision resulted in Rosehill Creations. "It's a combination of my mother's maiden name and my own," said Hill.
Hill makes bears and blankets, either from licensed fabric or, even more popular, she turns them into memory bears and blankets, made from clothing.
"I take an article of a loved one's clothing and use it to create a teddy bear," Hill said. "They make nice memories for people."
Hill said she can use pretty much any fabric, but most often, it's a shirt.
She also makes memory blankets. "These can be made out of shirts, slacks, or denim," she said. "I work with what I get to formulate a design."
She also makes T-shirt quilts. "It's memories for people who want to clean out their drawers but don't want to get rid of their shirts," she said with a grin.
Making her creations was one thing, but Hill also had to find a way to market them.
"I started by going to festivals, fairs, and shows," she said, "any that I could get into.
As the years have passed, Hill said she has now gotten selective. "Cedarhurst in Mt. Vernon is a really good national show," she said.
She also goes to larger national shows in Atlanta and Florida, as well as a fall show at John A. Logan College and a Christmas show at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Hill can also be found at the Carbondale Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.
"Surprisingly, it's really a good little show for me," she said.
That is where Stefanie Anderson found Hill, and was impressed with her work.
"I've bought three of the memory bears," she said.
Anderson bought bears for her daughter, Hannah.
Hill created them using shirts that belonged to Hannah's father, who passed away when Hannah was young.
"I knew I kept them for a reason," said Anderson.
Anderson gave her daughter the first bear on Christmas morning.
"Tears came to her eyes," she said. "She had good memories of her dad wearing those shirts."
It's stories like Anderson's that drive Hill as she completes her creations. "I want them to be special," she said.
Hill has her own memory bear that she created from her flight attendant uniform, even using the buttons for the bear's eyes and nose.
Hill said Rosehill Creations is her full-time job.
"I have a whole room in my house that is my work center," she said, of her home in New Burnside.
Along with special orders, she also had several ready-made items, both in bears and in quilts of all sizes, including designs featuring superheroes, Star Wars, and sports teams.
Quilt prices vary by size and design, but the bears are $50 for ready-made and $55 for special orders.
"It takes me about 4-5 hours to make a bear," she said.
Hill also has an online presence for her business with a Facebook page, @rosehillcreations and www.rosehillcreations.etsy.com.