Doll-industry stalwart Grace Szczepaniec has died because of complications related to her treatment for cancer, according to her daughter, Layla.
Szczepaniec became an icon in the BJD collecting world when she turned her collecting hobby into a business, JpopDolls. She played a major role in Australia’s Kaye Wiggs career as a BJD artist, and introduced American collectors to many other new artists, especially European BJD creators. She was a tireless advocate for artists and campaigned against the practice of counterfeiting dolls through the process of recasting. She also cared about animal welfare and was a supporter of the non-profit animal rescue organization Hope for Paws.
Laya Szczepaniec announced June 24 that she would continue to operate JpopDolls, saying “I have worked closely with [Grace] for most of my life, and I’m very glad to be able to keep my mother’s legacy alive. We will continue to produce the dolls and accessories that our customers have come to know and love so well.”