“Reindeer in Here” is an adorable book and plush set that just won the 2018 Seal of Approval for a less stressful holiday experience! The coveted Seal of Approval program by The National Parenting Center focuses on helping parents tackle the challenges and enjoy the many rewards of parenting.
Created by a Dad, the “Reindeer In Here” book and plush “magically” arrive in early December, setting the stage for a new yearly Christmas tradition. It’s the child’s very first gift of the holiday season from Santa — and can return year after year.
Recently author Adam Reed discussed his experiences creating the book and his plans for the future.
Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to create “Reindeer in Here” and had you had experience with toys in the past?
Adam Reed (AR): I wanted a great Christmas tradition to start with my kids and didn’t feel there was one out there that was just right. Many had elements of what I wanted for my family, but none had all. Worse yet, the market leader, here to only be referred to as ‘the elf,’ I felt had too many negatives for my family. I didn’t want the stress of moving it every day, I didn’t want my kids to be afraid of it watching their every move, and I didn’t want my kids to be afraid to touch it for fear it will lose its Christmas magic. And when I started doing research, I realized there were millions of other families who felt the same way I did, so I decided to create a new one!
MM: Why did you decide to focus on a reindeer character and how inspired were you by “Elf on the Shelf”?
AR: I wanted the most magical Christmas character possible outside of Santa. For me, that had to be a reindeer. But not just any reindeer, the most adorable plush and animated reindeer ever created. I spent six months researching every plush and animated reindeer that had ever been created, and worked with my amazing illustrator Izzy Bean on numerous drafts to get the perfect look and feel. Most importantly I wanted “Reindeer In Here” to be DIFFERENT. So, despite many people telling me I shouldn’t, I decided to make one antler smaller than the other so it stood out from all the other reindeer. I wanted it to be different, because being different is normal, and that should be celebrated.
MM: What was it like to get the book written and illustrated?
AR: It’s a heck of a process. It took me over a year to get it right. I wrote, rewrote, worked with my editor, and then rewrote it and tweaked it again. I literally wrote about 50 versions before I locked it. Note, after we sold out in 2017, and I saw the response to the reindeer and how everyone responded so positively to it ‘being different’, this year I added 10 more pages, and four more ‘different is normal characters.” So, if you got last years’ edition, congrats it is now a collector’s item as you literally cannot get them anymore. I have ten left that I own myself.
MM: The toy is so soft; how did you find a company to produce it?
AR: I am lucky enough to have an incredible manufacturing and distribution partner, and we have worked very hard to refine the look and feel of it over the last year. It is extremely soft and cuddly, and you don’t see that type of fur on hardly any plush. We custom die that color and that length for each reindeer. Quality is very important to our brand.
MM: What were the challenges of getting both the book and toy produced, packaged, and into stores?
AR: Every day is a challenge. I have never done this before. I self-published my first book and put it on Amazon. Last year we had to source the plush, the box, and the book all separately and then box them up and ship them to amazon. A lot of it was just trying to find any way possible to get it to market and I was determined to do so. Last year we only sold on Amazon, this year we are in over 1200 retailers including Hallmark and Learning Express. The brand, success story and message has spread like wildfire and it’s been awesome. But it hasn’t been easy. I met with a bunch of retailers, spoke in front of them, and talked to them to help them understand why this isn’t just another ‘elf’, it is something completely different. To their credit, they, and my manufacturing partners have believed since day one. I owe a lot of credit to Gene and Brenda who run the company that manufactures and distributes the brand, as well as all the retailers they have introduced me too. I firmly believe in supporting independent retailers, so much so, that despite having an opportunity to go into big box stores for 2018, I passed it up to focus on and commit to the independent retailer.
MM: The book is very interactive and asks kids to name their reindeer, so what have they come up with?
AR: AMAZING names! My daughter named hers Fuzzy, but they range from Ehop, Bobb-O, Snowtop, and Snuggles, to Bob, Furry, Snow Angel, Billy, and Crinkle. Kids are so imaginative it warms my heart to see what they come up with.
MM: What experiences with fans have been most memorable to you and why?
AR: The emails and direct messages I have got from parents are incredible. I had no idea what an impact this little reindeer could have on families but I see it almost every day. Parents and children really respond to the ‘different is normal’ message, and that is the reason I get most emails. Because for whatever reason their child feels different, and so they use the book as not only a Christmas tradition to bring back every year but to highlight that everyone is different and being different is normal. Before I sold one reindeer, I got an email from a woman who runs an amazing non-profit called The Lucky Fin Project, an amazing organization for children with limb differences. Once I read that email, and I had heard how much it resonated with her and her daughter, I knew this little reindeer had the opportunity to literally change lives. I keep that email in the front of my journal to this day to make sure I never forget what I am truly doing this.
MM: Overall, what are your biggest goals for the future of “Reindeer in Here”? For instance, might you write a sequel or create another book/character?
AR: BIG BIG goals, only some of which I can speak about here, but I can tell you I am just getting started. Yes, there will be other books and plush based on characters in this book, but that is just the beginning of the plan. What I can tell you is that no other Christmas tradition brand will do what we have planned, and although I can’t reveal the details yet, I can tell you everyone will be talking about it.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
AR: Remember…being different is normal, and that should be celebrated!
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The book can be found at many specialty stores including Hallmark and Learning Express. To find a neighborhood store nearby, simply click on their online Store Finder map at www.ReindeerInHere.com. There is also a limited supply available on Amazon.
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Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News, and Entertainment Vine. She is also a stop-motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Communication. She is also an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Meagan is a contributing editor to Kidskintha writing on Toys, Games, Entertainment, and other topics that are happy and fun!