February 10, 2012 by staff
Pillow Pets, Pillow Pets are an American brand of stuffed toys designed for children. Ordinary Pillow Pets are made of chenille and have Velcro straps that allow them to be changed from a decorated pillow into a stuffed animal. When invented by Jennifer Telfer in 2003, they were the first folding stuffed toys. They first gained success after the Christmas season of 2003, the period that Telfer personally sold the toys. Six years later, they would become more successful through television advertising. Because of their popularity, other companies have manufactured look-alike stuffed toys. The same popularity has allowed Pillow Pets to be used for charitable fund raising.
In 2003, Jennifer Telfer was living in San Diego, California with her husband, Clint, and two sons. Telfer stated in an interview with CNBC of her oldest son, then seven: “There was one particular animal that he liked to sleep with. And he slept with it so much that he started to flatten it out, and that’s where I came with the concept that ‘What if we can make stuffed animals functional?’” She decided on a combination of a pillow and a stuffed animal as the concept for Pillow Pets. Telfer and her husband proposed a meeting with a plush manufacturer at a tradeshow in Las Vegas, and decided to wholesale the toys themselves through their company, CJ Products (CJ is a combination of their first initials). Following the meeting, the Telfers were prepared to sell the first toys.
The first Pillow Pet was “Snuggly Puppy.” In the holiday season, Jennifer Telfer first sold Pillow Pets at mall kiosks, but not all of them were sold. Telfer said in the same CNBC interview: “Every single parent would walk up, and their kids would love them. [The parents would] say, ‘No, it’s just another stuffed animal.’ Because they didn’t know that it opened up to a pillow.” A few weeks later Telfer started selling at home shows, and almost sold out. She then discovered that if she kept selling the toys past Christmas, they would continue to sell. She ordered a container of 7,000 Pillow Pets, now in six different animal varieties, and sold all of them in three months. By the end of 2003, CJ Products earned $300,000 in gross sales.
In 2009, CJ Products started using television advertising . Commercials aired on children’s cable channels such as Nickelodeon, and family-oriented networks such as Travel Channel. Thanks in part to the ads, CJ Products recalled gross sales of $7,000,000 at the end of 2009. Telfer said: “When we first came up with the idea of Pillow Pets, I knew I loved the idea, but I didn’t realize that we were gonna be at this level, or people would love my idea as much as I loved it.”
On February 11, 2011, CJ Products announced that Pillow Pets will be re-branded into Pillow Pets Premium, for specialty retail stores. This line features softer fabrics and “collecter-level” branding. These stores will continue to have exclusivity of the new designs for about 3 to 6 months before being offered to mass retailers.
A “Snuggly Puppy” dog pillow pet
When invented by Telfer, Pillow Pets were conceived as the first brand of folding stuffed toys. An ordinary Pillow Pet is made with chenille fabric. Underneath it is a velcro strap. Given that it starts in pillow position, its strap fastens to the other side in order to transform it into a stuffed toy. If the strap is unfastened again, the Pillow Pet can again be used as a pillow.
More than one hundred varieties of Pillow Pets have been sold by CJ Products. They have also been produced in baseball-themes for Major League Baseball, National Football League, and National Collegiate Athletic Association teams. The Walt Disney Company has licensed Disney-themed Pillow Pets. Stuffed toys based on Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer, and SpongeBob SquarePants are being produced as well. Besides stuffed animals, other products bear the Pillow Pets name, such as blankets, slippers, and hats. A Pillow Pets book and two board games are also available. In late October 2011, a Pillow Pets video game was released for Nintendo DS.
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