Books and toys frequently go hand-in-hand and this fact is one which seized the attention of Chad C. Shea, M.S.B., who is the President of Armand Prosper LLC, a publishing company that he founded in 2014. The first publication from this business is “The Skeleton in the Closet”, a Halloween-themed book and toy set that Chad wrote and designed in 2013.
Chad has an extensive education and background in business, with an emphasis on the entertainment industry. In addition to managing the publishing initiative at Armand Prosper, Chad serves as a media spokesperson for “The Skeleton in the Closet” and aspires to inspire writers and entrepreneurs alike, worldwide. Raised in Arizona, Chad is a former Director of Advertising with many years of sales and marketing experience. As an entrepreneur, in 2014 Chad set his sights on producing “The Skeleton in the Closet” for all to enjoy for years to come. Chad currently lives with his wife and two children in Orlando, Florida. Recently, he spoke to the Examiner about his experiences in the publishing industry:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): When was the Armond Prosper Company started and why was that specific name chosen?
Chad Shea (C.S.): Armand Prosper was founded in 2014 and is the publishing company my wife and I created while working to produce and promote the Halloween tradition “The Skeleton in the Closet”. The name “Armand Prosper” is very significant to me and has a lot of meaning behind it. Armand was my grandfather’s name and he always told me I would “prosper.” My grandfather was a very passionate man and although I grew up with very little, he always reminded me to think big. More importantly, he reminded me that with hard work and determination I could accomplish anything that I put my mind to. He insisted I had what it took to change the family tree, forever. My grandfather would tell me “you will prosper” for many years…up until his death in 2001. Upon his death in May of 2001, (I was 20 years old) I was involved in a large sales organization that was holding a huge rally in Los Angeles. In preparation of the rally, I needed a nice suit and realized my grandfather and I were the same measurements so he had hundreds of options for me to choose from. Naturally, I browsed through the selections and arrived at suit of my liking. For good measure, I decided to check all the pockets of the suit and noticed some papers in the inner pocket. I removed the contents to find a few items:
1) A stack of big band & jazz ticket stubs, clearly this suit was his favorite to wear to live performances. We share that passion.
2) A $20 bill, which I desperately needed all the financial help I could get–haha.
3) A fortune cookie fortune that read; “You will prosper.” Those exact words.
I broke down in tears immediately and fell down on my knees as I recognized the significance of that moment and I will truly cherish that memory forever. My grandfather lived his entire life aspiring for wealth within our family however the more valuable lesson he taught us was how to be rich and the important difference between the two.
M.M.: Right now you have one product on the market called “Skeleton in the Closet”. How many more do you plan to produce?
C.S.: Our core product is certainly the book and doll set sold as a unit which includes a charming 32 page storybook along with a fully posable 19” skeleton for tricking and treating every day in October! In addition to the core SKU, we have so many fun things in the works to introduce it’s difficult for me to identify where to start. This year, we’ve introduced two new products that will be available which is our 3’ ft “lawn ornament” version of our skeleton doll. The 3’ft lawn ornament was introduced because many of our fans commented on bringing the tradition outside to front/back yards etc. The concept of taking the Halloween tradition outside of your home and into your neighborhood/community seemed to be a fun was to expand on the “tricks and treats.” In addition to the 3’ft lawn ornament we will also have an assortment of colors for the skeleton dolls available to the public. This year we are introducing black, pink, purple, green and yellow. All the colored options are neon so they look great in black-lights and we are planning to release the glow-in-the-dark version(s) next year. Beyond the introduction of the new skeleton doll options, our intellectual property is federally registered and we are already entertaining licensing options/partners. With that being said, we have conceptualized many fun items to introduce, specifically in the toy category. The product has the potential to evolve into a major franchise so we’ve always recognized the possibilities in licensing our brand to quality manufactures to provide fun new items to consumers every Halloween. At this very ten seconds, I will let you know that over the two years of producing and promoting our book we’ve noticed an incredible response in regard to the human characters of the book; the children. So much so, that we’ve recognized the opportunity to expand those characters to enhance the franchise development. We’ve branded the children and currently all trademarks are filed and processing prior to us releasing the brand to the world. The best example I can provide is if our “Skeleton in the Closet” was comparable to “Snoopy,” our children/human characters can be viewed similar to “Peanuts.” I hope that helps clarify to vision.
M.M.: Can you please tell us a little more about the book?
C.S.: I wrote the charming Halloween tradition in 2013. I purchased “The Elf on the Shelf” for my daughter in 2013 and we loved it but Halloween is one of our favorite holidays so I make the joke; “We should make a Halloween tradition for our kids….we can call it: ‘The Skeleton in The Closet’ and we’ll just play tricks and give treats every day!” My wife loved the joke and immediately we began to work on bringing it to life. We looked up the domain names and trademarks, once we realized that everything was available and no one has previously reserved the right to these properties we both became very excited. We just could not believe it. My wife and I both come from a music background so as a song writer I was able to pen the book within a short amount of time. Once the written portion was reviewed by family and friends it was clear we needed to proceed. Next, we needed an illustrator so I contacted my sister-in-law, Danielle Beu, to see if she would be interested in the project. Within six months, the book was fully illustrated and we began to test the sales within the Orlando market. We self-published 500 copies in 2014 and sold every single copy we allocated for sale. Today, we’ve sold over 22,000 units with significant interest from multiple big box retailers that could land us in some of the largest retail outlets in the U.S. by the end of 2016. In regard to the story itself, it was important to me to emphasis why Halloween is already so amazing. The holiday is NOT broken and it does NOT need to be fixed. The idea of “taking candy away from Halloween” I consider an act of war against my holiday so I had no interest in insinuating that Halloween needs to change. Instead, the book emphasizes all the long-lasting traditions that I grew up adoring: 1) Halloween decorations 2) Carving pumpkins 3) Choosing costumes 4) Going Trick or Treating! While the book reiterates the long-lasting traditions that make Halloween so special, it also introduces a new character to bring Halloween spirit to a whole new level; “The Skeleton in the Closet – A Halloween Tradition.” Now you can play tricks and give treats every day of October in a fun, engaging way to create memories with your family and friends that will last a lifetime. The book explains how the Skeletons arrive on the 1st of October and how they will trick or treat you to monitor your Halloween spirit and encourage an eventful October. One significant thing to mention about the book are the illustrations. When I originally spoke with Danielle Beu in regards to the illustrations I told her; “You’re not allowed to use a computer!” I insisted that everything is original artwork using mixed media like watercolor paints, Crayola crayons (her favorite) and colored pencils. I mentioned to her that I was born in 1981, so I wanted the book to remind me of a children’s book I grew up with. Vintage; after all it’s a TRADITION and traditions have been around for many years and NOT illustrated in 2014. The imagery of the book reflects the style of art for the time period I was shooting for, but you will see advancements in the imagery and technology as we approach the extensive animation possibilities for the franchise. I am thrilled to have in my collection the original water color paintings of the book. We plan to utilize those painting for marketing purposes by creating seasonal galleries in select markets for the public to view the original paintings with free/paid admission.
M.M.: How do you think up ideas for your products? For example, do you ever work with inventors?
C.S.: I like to think up a new idea every day; An idea a day keeps the static away. Within the last couple of years most of our ideas have been conceptualized internally. I love to be creative and think outside the box so I’m always trying to push myself to identify creative solutions and/or opportunities. I do recognize the importance of influence. Often times, as an artist, I’m inspired by another artist which will push me toward a path of creation. In this way, I certain work with other inventors as they inspire me daily with their contributions. “Creativity is contagious…pass it along,”–Albert Einstein. Moving forward, as we entertain our licensing opportunities I am so excited to work with creators and inventors of all kinds. I recognize that there are so many great ideas and concepts that we could consider that I’m very excited to witness the development.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with “Skeleton in the Closet”?
C.S.: The most rewarding part of working with “The Skeleton in the Closet” has been the creative fulfillment I’ve experienced by the joy of the consumers. Naturally I’m very excited about the growth and profit potential of the franchise, but it’s been more rewarding to see the response people have with the product. I’ve been a Director of Advertising for many years and very seldom did anyone every take the time to recognize the quality of our work and/or took to the time to appreciate our efforts and results. The feedback from our work has been overwhelmingly positive and it is by far the most rewarding part of the project.
M.M.: Where do you hope the company will be in ten years?
C.S.: In ten years from now I hope the company will be the heartbeat of Halloween for kids, families, friends, coworkers and all. My vision is to grow the Halloween Tradition to help spread laughter and joy to consumers that want to take Halloween spirit to a whole new level! My hope is to grow our core products in order to offer licensing opportunities to other quality companies in order to create an amazing synergy of partnerships working together toward creating something special for everyone to enjoy and look forward to each October. In my opinion, over the last couple of decades, Halloween has evolved into an adult holiday which only caters to sex, horror and haunts. Although I’m not opposed to any of those focuses I feel that no one has created a product to expand on for kids, family and holiday fun. I don’t want to change Halloween, we want to save Halloween. #savehalloween #skeletonincloset #trickortreat #ahalloweentradition
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the book and/or toy industry?
C.S.: “Bone up”…pun intended! The best advice I’d give to anyone who is striving to enter the book and/or toy industry is to take a good look at strategy and timing. A great idea/product takes great responsibility and I’m very thankful that I took the time to introduce the product and intellectual property in the correct order to help protect my efforts. I’ve learned so much in the last two years while producing and promoting the book that you simply have to take it one step at a time. Fail your way to success and learn from your mistakes so you can move forward with more knowledge. It’s like anything else worth fighting for, it certainly doesn’t come easy. The underlining ingredient is to work hard, never give up and take it one step at a time. Over the course of this project, I’ve noticed an overwhelming amount of interest from many different angles, some good, some bad and I’ve realized it’s sometimes very difficult to recognize the difference. Be open to partners but be mindful of your position and entertain all options.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?
C.S.: Yes. We have all sorts of exciting things on the horizon including some major publicity exposure toward the end of this year which we are eagerly anticipating. I’m unable to go into greater details but we know the opportunity will expose the product in a major way. Within the Orlando community, I am scheduled to do many readings as we approach the Halloween Season. My company is based out of Orlando, FL so we have been invited to read the book locally at numerous venues including: The Skeleton Museum, The Central Florida ZOO, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens for their Halloween events. In regard to trade shows for this year, we’ve been very thankful to attend the Halloween & Party expo In New Orleans along with the NY Toy Fair. Last month while we exhibited at the Halloween & Party expo we received the award for “Best New Product of 2016” which was very flattering because it was voted on by the buyers so we are thrilled for that recognition. We plan to fly out to California in June for some significant television tapings and we are scheduled to exhibit in Atlanta for America’s Mart in July.
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To learn more about “The Skeleton in the Closet” and/or the Armand Prosper company visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.