Christmas is full of magic, especially for young children and their parents. Belief, and love, also play a large part in the holiday's traditions.
West Hartford native Jessica Mikan had always believed in that holiday magic, and through an accident of fate, it has become her life's work.
Now, this new business owner is making her career out of bottling and dispensing that Christmas magic, as a product with the tagline "Never Stop Believing."
Mikan grew up in West Hartford and graduated from Hall High School. She had moved away and was living in Long Island, but due to personal circumstances ended in up with her family in West Hartford last Christmas along with her 3-year-old son.
He worried that Santa would not know where to find him, but Mikan had a solution. "We had the recipe for a long time, but last year we did it for him," she said.
That recipe was for magic reindeer food. "On Christmas Eve you sprinkle it outside. The sparkle is magic and Santa can see it," Mikan told her son.
His fears were assuaged, and Santa found him. "It made me realize that one simple thing could be important to a lot of kids," said Mikan. Sprinkling the magic reindeer food outside on Christmas Eve is a tradition that kids can have with their families. "I wish there were more things like that," she said.
Mikan worked her own magic, and turned the solution to her son's fears into a brand new business, Magic Kringle, bottling magic reindeer food into ornaments that can hang on a Christmas tree and, creating a new family tradition, be taken outside and sprinkled right before children go to bed on Christmas Eve.
Magic Kringle is a company that combines all of Mikan's beliefs about what it takes to be a good citizen, a good parent, and a good businessperson.
"In order for us to survive, we have to make products where we live," Mikan said. Every component of magic reindeer food is made in the United States – the displays, the labels, the bags, the ribbons. Right now her family members physically fill the ornament bottles, stick on the labels, place them in bags, tie the ribbons.
"It's work, but there's love in each ornament," Mikan said.
The product is kid friendly (and environmentally safe), and it's all about "happy things," Mikan said. It's not overly expensive, selling at most places for $5.99 per ornament. "With this economy, when you're a 'middle classer' it's important to stay true to your roots," she said.
Mikan also feels it's important to start off working with local small business owners. "They support us because they love the product," she said. "When you're small, you really meet the people who are in charge of the communities. You learn what works and what doesn't work."
"We've been out there for six weeks – literally six weeks or in some stores even less than that," Mikan said, but the product is being well received and she sees this as a baby step.
"You have to not be afraid of hard work. People think it comes easily," she said.
And just like at Santa's workshop, the work doesn't stop once Christmas has passed.
Mikan is working on several new products which Magic Kringle will offer next year – all Christmas-based – including a "really cute book, written in Hartford, published in Albany," which tells a great story, Mikan said.
In January and February, the book will be completed, with the first copies printed by March, she said. From March through June she will work on the displays for next Christmas, with a goal of being in 400 stores next year. Orders will be placed by July and everything should be shipped by November, she said.
Mikan hopes Magic Kringle will eventually be in "every small store in the U.S.," she said.
"I love people, and I love making kids happy." She's happy, too. "Life is too short to not love what you do," Mikan said.
Locally, Magic Kringle magic reindeer food is available in West Hartford at the Toy Chest, Clay Pen, Moscarillo's, and Walgreens. It's at Necker's Toyland in Simsbury, the wooden Toy in Wethersfield, and Amato's in both New Britain and Middletown. More information about where to find Magic Kringle can be found at magickringle.com.