Four brave young men set out on a harrowing mission deep within the Redwood Forest. Their mission: to rescue a lost, lonely puppy. This first book in a children's book series is a story for all ages. An adventure story which chronicles the fearlessness of four brave young men and the lost puppy they set out to rescue.
A Little Puppy Was Born
The idea for Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog! was formed on a bright January day in 2016. I wanted to pay homage to my two cats Chester & Leo, and also pay homage to Missouri, where I grew up.
Over the next several months, intense research was conducted to find just the right character look for Chester Leo. Originally, Chester Leo was going to be a cat, but it was very difficult to come up with a cat's design which wasn't similar to many of the famous feline cartoon characters. Thus, Chester Leo became a dog.
Many concepts were created until I settled on one: a cute little Cocker Spaniel puppy with a huge smile and bright, colorful eyes. His sidekick is a cute little boy named Billy Hampton: The Considerate Lad!, and the two of them lived in Clayton, a posh suburb with winding, tree-lined streets just West of Saint Louis.
On November 2nd, the store Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog! opened its doors, and originally sold a variety of trinkets and souvenirs.
Fun Friends Are Added
The Rodifers Are Introduced
In early 2017, I came up with the idea to expand the Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog! universe. I wanted Chester Leo & Billy Hampton to have friends. Thus, The Rodifer family was created.
The Rodifers live in a small house right around the corner from Chester Leo & Billy Hampton. Corey, Noah, Cindy & Tommy are four adopted children from different ethnic backgrounds who were adopted by the same parents. Each child represents a place to which I've travelled and for which I hold special memories.
Noah is from Atlanta, and always carries a map, as he is fascinated with the world around him. Cindy is from Thailand, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. Tommy is from Barcelona, my favorite European city, and Corey is from the Oregon coast, which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
I also introduced Billy's older brother, Kyle Hampton, and father, Roger Hampton.
The Picture Window: The Store Evolves
In early 2018, I wanted to create a tighter focus for the store. I didn't want a store which would sell random souvenirs. Rather, I wanted to create a store which would make a child's bedroom a fun, cozy retreat. Thus, the store focused on two things: fun, colorful wall art, and warm, luxurious bedding.
I also came up with the idea of the "picture window". This concept was simple: a piece of artwork which would provide a snapshot of a moment in the lives of these characters. Sleeping, reading, playing at the pumpkin patch, going for walks, etc. Many of these scenes are on framed canvas, which gives the impression of watching these characters through a window.
Together, the artwork on the bedding and walls work together to create a story and make a child's room a fun, comfortable retreat. When looking at these pieces of art, children can use their imaginations and fill in the blanks on the stories. Thus, the phrase "Bedding That Tells A Story" was born. This is the Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog! we know today.