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Meet Heidi Schrack of Incognito Publishing in Windsor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heidi Schrack.

Heidi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was a very little girl, it was apparent that I was destined to be an artist, though it wasn’t clear what kind. After attending Art School and earning an animation degree, I was approached by a toy company to design packaging for handheld video games, and that’s when my world opened up. I was introduced to the toy industry. It was as colorful and amazing as you would think it would be. My first Toy Fair was like living in a dream. It was like being in the movie “Big” only bigger. I stayed in the toy industry for almost 20 years, and have now branched out to publish my first children’s book. Let’s be real, I’m dying to turn my characters into products someday, so we’ll see what happens, but for now I want to engage children through storytelling.

I had no idea how relevant to 2020 the book would become as it’s pretty wild and unpredictable. In the book, “Let’s Make a Cake!” Sally wants to make a cake, but Johnny wants to build a go-cart. Sally compromises, only to find out that Gary has no idea how to build a go-cart. They enlist in their friend, Johnny, who suggests that they use his wheelchair as their go-cart. Sally doesn’t think it’s a very safe idea, but Johnny gives it a go. When he and Gary crash and laugh, Sally suggests that it would be safer if they made a cake instead. It seems safe at first, but on that last page, the characters are in for a shocking surprise. Pretty similar to 2020, right?

Reading the end of the book aloud is the best part for me. The kids who have heard it before are on the edge of their seats ready to laugh, and the rest are in total shock. You can see the gears turning and the many questions piling up. “Where is their grown-up?” – “Why is Johnny in a Wheelchair?” – “Can you read it again?” After the adorable Q&A, I ask the kids if they want to learn to tie balloon animals. I always caveat that balloons like to pop, and if they don’t feel safe, we respect that because friends respect each other’s comfort levels.

Has it been a smooth road?
The book was released in January of 2020. I was reading it to kids at school, in bookstores and libraries then… COVID. Talk about a struggle. The reason I did this was so I could read to them (in-person) and teach them about compromise and comfort levels and how to tie balloon animals. But just like them, I’m up for the challenge of making it work online.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I specialize in toy design, art direction, branding, and visual merchandising. That’s what I’m known for – but I’m proud that I created this book, and maybe someday, I’ll be known for that too.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Fort Collins is known for its entrepreneurs. I moved here in 2007 for that very reason: to start a toy company. Since the toys were battery-free and made from recycled materials, Fort Collins seemed like the perfect place. I continue to be encouraged by the opportunities provided for entrepreneurs in this wonderful city I call home.

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