CREATOR TACKLES FEAR
One Spark creators Hank and Megan Champion hope to gain support for Pajama Monsters, their children's bedtime story book and brand.
For children, when the lights go off a fear of all things that go bump in the night arises. Night-lights are turned on, heads are tucked under the blanket, and ears are on a super-sonic sound wavelength listening for the sound that could alert them to a monster’s presence.
However, a One Spark creator has in mind a new bedtime tradition to make sure that every child’s bedtime is a safe adventure. Pajama Monsters – and the accompanying book — comforts children and parents alike by reassuring that the bogey man isn’t so scary, especially when your best friend is a monster.
Pajama Monsters will be appearing at One Spark 2014. They hope to grow beyond just books and dolls and develop into a full children’s brand that revolves primarily around bedtime. Jacksonville’s Hank and Megan Champion are looking to raise $31,000 to produce a new Pajama Monster’s gift set and grow the company’s fan base.
If their project succeeds, what started as a smiley monster doodle by Hank will begin reaching homes all over the nation.
“Hank wasn’t too sure where he was going with his study on the idea of baby monsters in pajamas, but he felt sure he was onto something,” Megan said.
Hank played around with several different concepts and personalities based on his drawings. The monsters began to come alive with poems to describe the unique characteristics of each one. According to Megan, there were originally 30 different Pajama Monsters, but after Hank spent time with each one he narrowed the group down to his favorite five:
Stinky: the big ball of fluff hidden under his pajamas, who is always carrying cheese in his pockets for a late-night snack.
Daisy: the giant slug named after Daisy’s favorite flower, who is a princess with her own personal trail of green slim.
Vincent: the cool monster who mostly keeps to himself. Although he is missing an ear that doesn’t stop him from coloring the greatest pictures in all of monster town, much like the artist he is named after.
Fluffy: the insomniac bunny is known for her questionable decisions and odd beliefs. She is a strong believer in the idea that rules were meant to be broken.
Nipper: the strongest and youngest monster of the group comes off a little shy. He also speaks in only funny noises.
These five young monsters who also wear pajamas make up a group of modern-day teddy bears to help defend children and keep them safe during bedtime.
Stinky, the lead character in the accompanying book “If Your Monster Wears Pajamas,” always says “only the nicest, most friendliest monsters wear pajamas.” The book is one of the Champion’s greatest accomplishments.
“When you have a small company, seemingly small accomplishments can be major victories,” claimed Megan.
However, success wasn’t easy for the couple.
“The process of sourcing materials, hiring, firing and managing seamstresses was a full-time job by itself. There were so many problems,” Megan said. “Plus, in order to get orders, I had to do marketing and research. Then there were the administrative functions of the business, fun things like tax code and annual reports and fighting with PayPal.”
“Plus, there was the little issue with trying to make a profit.”
By the winter of 2011 the Champions had filled their last order with 500 Pajama Monsters. They decided to take time to develop a plan for future success.
In 2013, the Champions decided to re-launch Pajama Monsters at the first One Spark. One Spark gave them the option to test the market to be sure the public was still interested in these little creatures.
“The response was wonderful,” shared Megan.“Not only were we able to hold hundreds of mini focus group sessions, but we found that the interest for the Pajama Monsters had only increased.”
The couple was approached by potential investors during the week of One Spark, but chose to take on the initial risk themselves. Megan said that they were given great information which led to them determining the role the couple would like to play within their company. This encouraged the couple to believe that if so many people were willing to invest money, they shouldn’t be afraid to use their savings to fund the start-up.
“The greatest thing we got from One Spark was the huge outpouring of support. It’s great to see how many people encourage us, get behind our brand, and cheer us on,” Megan said. “I always like to say it’s that atta-boy that keeps us going when days get long.”
This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.