Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 14, 2013

Family looks to expand stuffed animal operation

By Wade Coggeshall

INDIANAPOLIS — Michael and Erin Bogan’s five children are creative, to say the least.

Now ranging in age from 8 to 16, a couple years ago they started drawing monsters culled from their collective imaginations.

“They were really good and they had hundreds of them,” Erin said.

The Bogans, who live in Avon, liked them enough to want to share them publically. That’s when Promise Monsters was born.

Initially they printed the monsters on cards that included heartwarming passages like, “Smile, someone’s thinking of you” and “Your day will get a little better.” The Bogans placed these in public areas for random people to find. They also started a website (PromiseMonsters.com) where citizens could note their experience.

“Everybody loved it and we had so much fun doing it,” Erin said. “We wanted to keep spreading the joy.”

That’s when they decided to go beyond mere drawings into stuffed animals. Each comes with its own “Monster Mission.”

“It’s a random act of kindness,” Erin said. “They’re sneaky and fun – just a little something for kids to do.”

Once they complete their task, they can enter a code from their Promise Monster on the website to redeem a reward.

“It can be things for their monster like a superhero cape or a hat,” Erin said. “Or it can be something like a donation to Riley Hospital for Children.”

The Bogans started with two monsters. The next one, named Albert, will be the fourth to become a stuffed animal. There are plenty more drawings that can be refined and rendered tangible.

With sales now eclipsing 1,000, the Bogans want to expand. They launched a Kickstarter campaign that can be viewed online at KickStarter.com/projects/PromiseMonsters/spread-the-kindness-with-usa-made-stuffed-monsters. The goal is to raise $20,000 to fund more manufacturing equipment. They currently have an office on Indianapolis’ Westside where all the Promise Monsters are made by hand.

“We’re really proud of that fact,” Erin said. “We want to contribute to manufacturing returning to the United States.”

Those who contribute to the Kickstarter campaign are eligible for various reward levels, including Promise Monster merchandise and the Bogans performing a kind act of your choosing and documenting it. The top award is taking your drawing and turning it into a Promise Monster. The Kickstarter campaign ends June 12.

The Bogans also recently finished a contest where patients at Riley Hospital for Children or their relatives submitted monster drawings.

“We’re going to pick one and make that into a Promise Monster as well,” said Erin, adding that $5 from each of those units sold will be donated to Riley’s foundation.

So far Promise Monsters (and their smaller Smarshmallows) are available online and at various retailers in Indiana and Michigan. The Bogans want it to be as big as it can get.

“We have a lot of fun doing it,” Erin said. “We think it’s a positive influence on the world.”