If you're a parent, you've heard of "Elf on the Shelf." Since coming out in 2005, over 6 million people have bought the box and plush toy set, which has also inspired a TV special and had its own float in the Macy's Day Parade. Not so shabby for an idea sparked by a mother-daughter trio. We talked with one of the founders, Chanda Bell, about the brand's enormous success, the newest product and how you can come up with your own million dollar idea.
From a family idea to a worldwide phenomenon
"It's been completely overwhelming and it's really an honor to see the ways families have embraced 'Elf on the Shelf,'" Bell tells us. "We do not take that lightly." She adds that even with all the extensions the brand has taken, their mission has remained the same: "We're focused on creating family moments and everything must pass that vain," she says. The goal is to create traditions.
The latest addition
This holiday season, a new "Elf" product is hitting stores: "Elf Pets." Unlike the traditional "Elf on the Shelf," kids can hold and play with their "Elf Pet." "The idea is that Santa is having trouble at the North Pole because his sleigh won't fly due to a lack of Christmas spirit," Bell explains. "Santa sees all these tiny reindeer that are the 'Elf Pets' who volunteer to help Santa. Every time a child loves or takes care of their reindeer, they're building the Christmas spirit. The idea is that on Christmas Eve, kids have loved up their reindeer enough to make Santa's sleigh fly and the reindeer will grow full-size and help pull the sleigh."
Kids can get ideas on different ways to love and take care of their "Elf Pet" using the "Elf Pet" app, which also has games. And if you're looking for "Elf on the Shelf" ideas your kids will love, you'll get tons using the "Elf on the Shelf" app. It's written in a way that it doesn't expose any secrets, so it's safe for your kids to read it, too. If apps aren't your thing, you can sign up for a weekly e-letter that has simple ideas or just head to the website, elfontheshelf.com.
How to launch your own product idea
If you want to follow in Bell's footsteps, she has two key pieces of advice: be passionate and don't overestimate your success. "Grow where you're planted. Create success where you are," she says. "It's a good way to keep you out of debt because if you can't sell to [the people around you], chances are the world won't want it either."