Hey Rocco: Friend From Home

Hey Rocco: Friend From Home

By: Jason Sheppard

Newfoundland’s Jason Oakley is the creator behind a new character aimed at capturing children’s hearts

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Jason Oakley, originally from Newfoundland, moved to Toronto five years ago away from his nephews. When it came time to get them a gift for special occasions, Oakley never knew what to get for them. 

Hey Rocco

“My sister would say ‘just get them a gift card’ but I wanted to get them something unique, something I knew they wouldn’t have already and something that could create a bond between us,“ he tells The Herald.

Oakley decided to write a book about a plush toy for his nephews. This became the idea behind Hey Rocco, which started out as a Kickstarter campaign in May, 2017. With 61 pledges, Oakley reached his initial fundraising goal of $3,000. After 30 days, the project earned $3,590.

With that, Oakley and his team created their own plush toy and a book which tells the story of Rocco the Fox – a misfit in the forest who decides to search for a new best friend. 

In the course of Rocco’s travels he comes across a human who helps Rocco find a friend, only to discover that the human becomes the fox’s friend. 

“That human becomes the reader,” explains Oakley. “It becomes that they’re friends with Rocco now.” 

A Friend Indeed

Oakley remembers hearing from a parent earlier this year when he sold a Rocco package to a woman at a Christmas fair in Toronto.

The aunt purchased a package for her niece and the child’s mother noticed a change.

“The mother said the child was shy in school and then she started bringing Rocco to school with her and then her teacher said the child started to open up. She started interacting more because she felt more confident.” 

To keep that connection going and maintain that bond, Oakley decided to add a subscription service to his creation. 

Right now, they have a few subscribers. Although, they’re just beginning, Oakley and his team hope that someday Rocco becomes a household name. 

“We’d like to see it become like ‘Elf on the Shelf’,” said Oakley. “Right now it’s online, but one of these days it would be great to put it in stores.”  

Rocco Gift Package   

Oakley explains that parents purchase a Hey Rocco gift package – a one time purchase of $49.95 – which includes a Rocco plush toy, a storybook and letter of authenticity. 

When you subscribe to the monthly letter delivery, the child receives a letter from Rocco, addressed to them and referring to them by name. Each letter from Rocco is personalized to the young reader. The monthly letters include an illustrated picture showing what Rocco has been up to and also a small souvenir. The packages arrive in an envelope much like the designs of the Rocco books. Parents can also share in the fun by uploading photos of their children enjoying their experiences to Rocco’s Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages.      

Parents can learn more at: www.getheyrocco.com

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