MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Peace Core. High school art teacher. Wedding dress designer. Three totally different careers — with different paths to success. Unless your name is Joy Noelle Teiken.

Her shop in south Minneapolis is filled with beautiful gowns, but it’s a hat that lead her to fashion.

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A woman’s silloute is like a work of art. Teiken finds all shapes beautiful.

“I do draping on their body, so they’re really the canvas,” she said. “The dress actually becomes the woman as I’m working.”

She loves playing with fabrics, even ones clients bring to her.

Teiken will turn dollies into a one-of-a-kind bridal gown with a special connection to family.

“I always loved fashion,” she said. “It was something I wanted to do when I was younger but I was raised to be very strategic and logical and not a dreamer.”

That’s why she joined the Peace Core after college and then went to work for the St. Paul creative arts high school.

“This was kind of a mistake in a way. I was a high school teacher. I had a bunch of students who came to me and wanted a fashion design class because they made their own clothes,” she said.

Teiken went to her principal, not even being able to sew at the time, and a course was created.

“My life went back to what I wanted to be at 6 or 7 — a fashion designer,” she said.

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Like most of us in school, the first thing she made was for her mom.

“My brother was getting married, my mom was sick with breast cancer and she had lost all of her hair and she didn’t want to wear a wig to the wedding,” she said. “I went to a thrift store and found almost the exact same fabric and made it into a beret. And she wore it to my brother’s wedding and felt beautiful. She actually passed two weeks after my brother’s wedding and we buried her in that hat.”

The hat, turned into more headwear and purses. Until finally, 10 years ago, she started making the transition from teacher to full-time clothing and dress designer.

“When I first started out I thought of myself as a creative person with a business. Then I made that switch in my brain, that I’m a business person who is creative,” she said.

As a single mom, that meant having to get even more creative in her personal life. In between the ruffles and sequins, you can spot little boys’ toys.

“He’s been raised here, he’s taken naps in the fitting room,” she said.

Her son, Noel, even helped design a kid’s collection in a fashion show. But bridal is where she makes her money and feels rich in her work.

“I think it’s important to be happy where you’re at,” she said.

She’s most happy inside Joy Noelle, where inside the front door her mother watches over her work, wearing that first pink hat.

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“I’ve kind of felt my mom’s spirit through this whole process. I always talk with her about direction and what should I do,” she said. “I feel like she would be really proud of where I’m at.”