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The Elf on the Shelf and NASCAR: What's the connection?

Editorial Team

Yesterday when I asked for feedback on Facebook about the children’s book–and–doll sales phenomenon, The Elf on the Shelf, within minutes I had 50 comments—all of them raves.

“Best product ever!”
“My kids love him!”

In case you’re in the dark about The Elf — which I was since my kids are teenagers — let me enlighten you.

The 8–inch doll (he’s a guy, but a girl elf is also available) spends his days “watching” kids to see if they’re behaving. Then he jets off to the North Pole to report naughty/nice behavior to Santa. When the kids wake up the next morning he’s in a different perch, always watching.

Got it?

If you do, you’re like the 1.5 million people who have bought the book-elf set since 2005.

If you don’t, you’re like the folks at mainstream publishing houses who told creator Carole Aebersold that they hated her creation. Aebersold told USA Today she got icy rejection letters that included comments such as “doomed for the damaged returns bin” and “based on this committee’s expertise to this portion of the market, your book would not see a great deal of success.”

Most people would GIVE UP after getting such negative feedback from professionals. Not Aebersold. Instead, convinced that her spark of an idea was a good one, she hustled to make it a success.

Along with her co–author, daughter Chanda Bell, Aebersold self–published the book and had the elf made in China. Within her first year she sold 5,000 sets. Today, the business has 16 full–time employees and is averaging an annual growth rate of 272%.

Once a regional, word–of–mouth holiday favorite in the Atlanta area, it is now sold in 10,000 outlets nationwide, including Barnes & Noble, Borders and specialty shops.

If you’ve been told no over and over again, you won’t want to miss hearing their elf wisdom.

Also joining us in Atlanta: Leilani Münter, a NASCAR driver and environmental activist – quite a combo! – who has been adopting an acre of rainforest for every race she runs. Münter, one of SportsIllustrated‘stop ten female race car drivers in the world, has starred in a national ad campaign for Lucky Brand Jeans with ads appearing in VogueVanity FairIn StyleW Magazine, and Lucky Brand stores across the country. Her tagline read “Leilani Münter, Saving Rainforests One Race at a Time.”

Discovery’s Planet Green named her the #1 eco–athlete in the world—beating Lance Armstrong for the top spot!

With family ties in the music community — her brother–in–law is Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Bob Weir — Leilani’s motto is “Never underestimate a vegetarian hippie chick with a race car.”

So there you have it: the connection between The Elf on the Shelf and NASCAR! Join these powerhouses – and 30 other exceptional speakers, amazing vendors, laser coaches, and, of course, the best and brightest attendees—July 21 to 23 in Atlanta.

Can’t wait to see YOU there.

(We’re almost out of scholarship funds, so read the details here to apply. Call Alex Hall at 212–290–2600 today for travel or alumni rates too.)


  1. Sounds like an incredible event! Leilani Münter has a great story and philosophy – such an inspiration to women everywhere. The Elf on the Shelf is quite an interesting controversy – curious to see where it goes in the future. Thanks for the fun and informative read, Tory!

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