Ryan Kenny has always loved Christmas trees. When he was little, he’d fuss over the family tree until it was just right. ‘Cause Santa checked the “Nice” column for little boys who worked to make the tree beautiful. Now Ryan is a grown-up and he still wants a tree that is just right. He found the perfect artificial tree: a full-bodied Douglas fir with foliage that could easily be mistaken for real. After hanging glistening ornaments and stringing twinkling lights, he, his wife and their wide-eyed children sat transfixed admiring it. Until Ryan saw the pole at the bottom of the tree. And once he saw it, he couldn’t unsee it. Never ever has any self-respecting tree had an ugly fuzzy green pole for a trunk. Picture someone dressed in Versace with “Hairy Feet” shoes. Hideous.

Ryan hopped right onto the Internet. Surely there were lots of things available to disguise the ugly pole that was ruining his Christmas tree. There was nothing. So he thought and he thought and one day he said, “I’ve got this!” And why wouldn’t he? A Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design, worked on Madison Avenue, now Senior Art Director at DigitasLBI, a top-of-the-line global marketing and technology agency. Ryan’s innate creativity, his education in the arts and technology and his work experience resulted in a strategy-based approach to design.

His solution would need to work on multiple models and sizes of artificial trees. He went to every retailer with trees on display to measure them and turned to successful manufacturing companies for ideas. Velcro closures would enable easy adjustments in height and width. He tested out various materials until he found that neoprene (think wetsuits) is durable and flexible. After many trials and errors, Ryan had his Christmas Tree Hugger.

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Huggers come in classic brown bark and white birch. Both reverse to a candy cane design. Adjust the height with the small velcro tabs, then wrap the Hugger around the pole and slide it up to where the pole meets the branches. Bring a tree skirt up to the bottom of the Hugger, and your tree has a seamless look—like a real tree!

Ryan and the Hugger were a sensation on QVC and at the AmericasMart trade show. He had a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that made his vision a mass-produced reality.

Christmas Tree Huggers make really great gifts. For anyone, of course, but especially for the people on your list that you don’t really know well. Teachers, for example. They have stacks of “World’s Best Teacher” mugs in their basements. A Hugger could miraculously catapult Junior into teacher’s pet territory. Or how about those dreaded office gift exchanges such as Secret Santa or Holiday Grab Bag? The Hugger is neither gender- nor age-specific. The boss will love it as much as the newest employee.

Ryan wants to share the magic of the Chrstimas with others and donates a portion of the proceeds from the Hugger to Christmas Tree Santas, a volunteer organization that gives trees to impoverished families; and for every Hugger ordered, he gives $1 to Toys for Tots.

We all know that Santa does not assign “Naughty” or “Nice” based on a Christmas tree, but really, is there any point in taking a chance? Not when a Christmas Tree Hugger could make the difference.

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Shark Tank Air Date: 12/3/17 – Season 9 – Episode 13

 
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