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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver company Slumberkins snuggles up with Jim Henson Co. for AppleTV+ series

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 1, 2022, 6:03am

The adorable Slumberkins creatures are coming to Apple TV+, the Vancouver company announced this week. The original series is expected to debut on the streaming service Nov. 4.

“We can’t help but pinch ourselves,” read the company’s Instagram announcement. “This series has been our dream since the beginning of Slumberkins.”

The show is in partnership with The Jim Henson Co., creator of “The Muppets.” It’s described as a mixed media puppet and 2-dimensional animation series “that empowers the emotional wellness of children through supportive storytelling,” according to a press release from Apple TV+.

Slumberkins debuted in 2016, producing snuggly stuffed creatures and associated board books to help children explore emotions. Its creators, Kelly Oriard and Callie Christensen, have long hoped the company would become a household name.

The series will feature Bigfoot, self-esteem; Unicorn, authenticity; Sloth, routines; Yak, self-acceptance and Fox, change, according to the announcement. The show, which has been in post-production since December of last year, will be “an intentional preschool series that addresses children’s emotional health at the deepest level.”

“It’s been an incredible experience to see them come to life,” Christensen said of the Slumberkins creatures.

On their first day of set, Oriard fondly remembers Halle Stanford from The Jim Henson Co., having the Slumberkins puppets lined up and — with a little movie magic and some helpful puppeteers — thanked the two women for bringing them to life.

The characters will examine friendship, confidence and connections in their quest to have healthy relationships.

“The episodes are inspired by the brand now, but it is all original Apple content,” said Christensen, meaning there will be new storylines for the characters.

The show was made for television by Alex Rockwell, creator of “Word Party” and “Pajanimals.” Rockwell and Stanford are executive producers. Oriard and Christensen are co-executive producers.

Oriard and Christensen began pitching networks back in 2019.

“Apple TV+ resonated with the mission and what we’re trying to do in the world around emotional and mental health and wellness for kids,” said Christensen.

Slumberkins was ranked No. 270 on Inc. magazine’s 2020 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. and was on Portland Business Journal’s list of fastest growing private companies. The Vancouver company raised $12.2 million in revenue last year, according to the Portland Business Journal. They have 37 employees and an office in downtown Vancouver.

Oriard and Christensen said there’s more opportunities and media launches debuting in the next couple of years, including an affirmation app, music and potentially podcasts.

“There’s lots of stuff in the incubator always at Slumberkins,” Christensen said.

Christensen and Oriard are both native Vancouverites, having graduated from Prairie High School and both working in local education.