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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Vancouver doll company Slumberkins lands TV deal

Slumberkins co-founders Callie Christensen and Kelly Oriard. (Courtesy)
Slumberkins co-founders Callie Christensen and Kelly Oriard. (Courtesy)
By Troy Brynelson Columbian

Slumberkins may have fallen short last fall on ABC’S “Shark Tank,” but it still apparently has the star power for television.

The Jim Henson Company, the Los Angeles production company best known for creating “The Muppets,” announced Monday it will launch a children’s series around the plush, educational dolls that were first created in Vancouver.

“We know that parents want to help their kids be prepared for the challenges of the world,” said Halle Stanford, president of television for the company. “There is a lack of tools to help teach children how to handle their ‘big feelings’ in a healthy way. Slumberkins provides support to kids and families through books, plush and soon, with the help of the Jim Henson Co., through video entertainment.”

Details are still scant, according to Slumberkins co-founders Callie Christensen and Kelly Oriard. They will co-produce the show, but production has not officially begun and The Jim Henson Company is still shopping for a network, they said. Still, the Prairie High School grads are excited for the deal.

“We couldn’t think of a better partner,” Oriard said. “They’re so in-line with our thinking. When you have a child’s attention, it’s special and meaningful, and you should do everything you can with their attention, like help them learn.”

Christensen, an educator, and Oriard, a family therapist, first designed Slumberkins in 2016. The lanky dolls sport charming underbites, muted colors and aim to help children cope with self-esteem issues and changes at home, among other things. Dolls cost between $36 and $44.

Slumberkins caught on quickly enough that it wound up on the prime-time business pitch show “Shark Tank” in November 2017. Christensen and Oriard’s pitch for $175,000 in investment was turned down, but they said they continue to grow. After making more than $550,000 in sales last year, they expect to grow sales “over 250 percent.”

“Our goal is to make Slumberkins a household name and we see ourselves as the modern ‘Sesame Street’ or ‘Mister Rogers’ (Neighborhood),’ and we really see ourselves in the business of education,” Oriard said.

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