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Monkey business done right: handmade sock monkeys are casting off

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the Canada 150 sock monkey, named William, taken by Dartmouth – Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the Canada 150 sock monkey, named William, taken by Dartmouth – Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher.

DIGBY, NS – When Sherrie Kearney first saw a sock monkey, she hated it.

Now, she creates them for a living.
She and her husband Dale Kearney started their monkey business Christmas 2013 in Digby. She says seeing that first sock monkey inspired her to create others in a different way.
“It was really creepy – the red eyes, that mouth, just really creepy,” she says.

The Nova Scotia themed monkey sitting on a lobster trap at the Shore Thing in Digby.

“I came up with a design that was much cuter and friendlier looking while still keeping that nostalgic feel.”
The company now sells thousands of their original, handmade sock monkeys online each month.
“No one but Sherrie’s dad really believed in us at first, but we’ve gone a long way and are continuing to grow,” says Dale.

 

The first stitch

The Nova Scotia themed monkey in Las Vegas.

The couple first brought their new business creations to a craft show, but to little success.
They then created a website, which changed everything.
After 20 minutes online, a monkey sold. Sherrie decided that minute that this was something they could pursue full time.
She and Dale researched the cost, made a budget and a business plan.

Even with the planning, many still didn’t take them seriously.
“We got laughed at and everything. People told us they thought we’d never make this a real business,” says Dale.
But they persevered and continued believing in their business model.

 

Canada 150

These surgeon monkeys were signed by the cast of General Hospital last year and raised over $3,500 for the Christmas Daddies charity, according to Dale Kearney.

The duo was living in Digby and moved to New Waterford in Cape Breton, where they got the Canada 150 design license.
After being featured on CTV Morning in January 2017, business boomed and the couple had to shut down their website for over a month to cope with the sudden increase in sales.
“We did $27,000 in sales the first day the episode aired,” says Dale.

Sherrie Kearney, the creator and head of Monkeys & More, with her Canada 150 monkey.

“We’d been selling around 30 per month and now we’re in the thousands.”
The couple has since brought their business back to Digby, Sherrie’s hometown, where they’ve settled in a house and into making their monkeys.

 

The monkeys

The Canada 150 moose monkeys, named William, catch the Parliament Hill view in Ottawa.

Each design is conceived and created by Sherrie, who’s garnered quite a following. In addition to their jump in overall sales, they have around 800 dedicated customers who’ve each bought nearly every monkey design ever made.
Sherrie also creates small numbers of limited edition Christmas-themed monkeys every year for these collectors.

These sock monkeys have been sold all over the world to countries like Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and Guatemala.
A monkey is even with Canadian troops overseas in an undisclosed location.
Monkeys have also been purchased by Ben Patrick Johnson, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after voice-over actors, singer Rick Springfield and Canada’s own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

 

What’s next

The Nova Scotia themed monkey sitting with some buoys at the Digby Wharf.

The duo has also been invited to feature their monkeys in the winners’ gift bags at the Emmy Awards, Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards.
“No one really sees how far our reach is,” says Dale.
“We’re just the little sock monkey business no one knows about in Digby. It’s kind of nice that way,” says Dale.

The Nova Scotia themed monkey will also be featured on the Bluenose during this summer’s Tall Ships festival.
Sherrie loves that her business has local roots.
“I was born and raised here. To be able to come back after being away and bring my business home is a great feeling.”

 

Sherrie’s Canada 150 monkey by Digby’s lighthouse.

To order a monkey or follow Dale and Sherrie’s business, check out their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

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