Anyone else all about the Elf on the Shelf this time of year? Since 2004, The Elf on the Shelf brand has grown from a single children’s book, written by mother daughter team Chanda Bell and Carol Aebersold as a way to reconnect with each other and share a personal family tradition with readers, to a veritable industry of toys, clothes (yes, there is a “couture collection” for your temporary addition), pets and even a movie. Thirteen million books—and scout elves, as Chanda and family refer to them—have been sold. The Local Moms Network sat down with Chanda, who still runs the company with her mother and sister Christa Pitts, to talk about this incredible family (and female)-owned business.
What has been the best part of creating this empire with your family?
I consider myself blessed to have the chance to work with my family. While at times it may be challenging, we would not have accomplished any of this without one another. Working together as a team has allowed each of us to thrive in the area in which we are best suited.
Can you reflect on why the partnership has worked so well?
It’s vital to get along well and have a healthy, positive relationship with one another prior to getting into business together. If you do, you will be able to support and encourage one another to achieve success. If you do not, starting a business together is a lot like getting married. If it’s bad, it will only get worse as the stress and pressure of working together increases. Thankfully, our family works very well together and offers a lot of love and support.
When you started out did you have a plan for the brand?
I don’t think I ever saw it as a business. But I do think that my mom, my sister and I knew in our hearts that we had a very special family tradition to share. And then we knew, based on our own feelings growing up, once people started experiencing it, once they had this magical Scout Elf from the North Pole in their homes, they would start talking about it and they would tell people about it. And those families would tell their friends about it and children would start talking at school.
Do you have any expert tips for parents on how to make the most of their Elf experience?
The Elf on the Shelf tradition is meant to be fun and lighthearted. It’s about experiencing a family tradition together. So, keeping that in mind, when you adopt your Scout Elf, he or she is part of the family and takes on the family’s personality. All Elves are different. If your Elf doesn’t appear in complicated and crazy situations each morning, that’s okay—it doesn’t make them any less magical or festive! If you are looking for more ideas to inspire your Scout Elf, we do have the Scout Elves at Play® line which includes several tools, accessories and crafts that will provide your Elf with an array of ways to spark their creativity. Additionally, our blog and app are also a great resource for more ideas.
What’s next for The Elf on the Shelf?
Our new mission is to own Santa’s North Pole. We recently started Scout Elf Productions as a branch of our company to tell the stories of Santa’s North Pole outside of the books we write. Our first animated feature, Elf Pets: St. Bernards Save Christmas, recently premiered on TBS Network and will be airing throughout the Christmas season on TBS and the Cartoon Network. It’s so exciting because we are creating the content for Santa’s North Pole. We receive so many questions about Santa Claus and the magic of the North Pole, and who is in a better position than us to respond? We have become the go-to source for all things North Pole-related, and we are pivoting toward experiences and entertainment. We also have some exciting news regarding a new endeavor for 2019 that we are thrilled about. This announcement will be made on December 11th (that’s today) so stay tuned!
Photos courtesy of Courtesy of CCA&B