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Local Couple Launch Magic Playing Card Business

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Red Fox Crop
Kelly and Ricki ten Hove with their Red Fox Playing Cards. Brenda Sawatzky

Almost as if by magic, Kelly and Ricki ten Hove of Grande Pointe discovered a way to combine their unique talents to create a burgeoning new online business: Red Fox Playing Cards. Unlike traditional playing cards, their Red Fox cards are designed with the card trick magician in mind.

Apart from working as a pilot for FedEx, Kelly has been a card trick enthusiast and magician hobbyist for more than 30 years. His wife, Ricki, is the creator behind the deck’s unique artwork. The cards, while fanciful and attractive to look at, hold many secrets within their complex body of artwork.

Secrets that only the trained eye can spot.

“That idea, which I actually got from a Kinder Surprise toy… combined with [Kelly’s] magic, suddenly clicked together,” Ricki says.

Over the past year, the couple has poured hundreds of hours into brainstorming over the designs on the card deck, drafting and redrafting the graphics before the cards were finally ready for print.

Today, the playing cards are ready to be launched into a market that caters to aspiring and seasoned magicians, playing card collectors, and performers of cardistry, an art which focuses on the use of playing cards to pull off masterful stunts.

In July of this year, upon the completion of the first prototypes, Kelly created a website and Instagram account to market the product. Then, in the beginning of November, they initiated a Kickstarter fundraising campaign which exceeded all their sales expectations.

Kickstarter is an online crowd-funding platform that allows developers of unique products to advertise for presales, benefiting the entrepreneur since little of their own capital needs to be invested. Only once the entrepreneur reaches their desired presale goals is the actual product created and shipped. Kickstarter then takes a small commission from those sales.

So far, Red Fox’s Kickstarter presales have exceeded $14,000. Murphy’s Magic Supplies Inc., a magic paraphernalia wholesaler out of the United States, has placed an order for an additional $12,000 in product.

 “Our initial goal was $5,000 with Kickstarter and we got that within the first 12 hours,” Kelly says. “So we made a second goal of $10,000… and we reached that goal about a week into the campaign.”

The ten Hoves have chosen as their producer the same company that has become known for the quality Bicycle brand playing cards. Every deck of Red Fox cards will also be accompanied by a set of red-lens glasses and access to Kelly’s magic tricks tutorial site.

Other forms of marketing are achieving success, too. The couple’s Instagram account has already attained more than 1,000 followers.

As well, recognizing that celebrity endorsement is important to the success of any brand, Kelly sent prototype decks to a variety of card magicians around the world. These have included world-renowned greats such as Chris Ramsay and Evan the Card Guy, each of whom has built a following of millions of people on You Tube, TikTok, and Instagram.

 “One of our biggest fans is Richard Bellars from the U.K., and he’s a professional magician that was on Penn and Teller: Fool Us,” says Kelly. “He did over a 15-minute review just gushing over our cards.”

The ten Hoves’ strategy for gaining these endorsements has been built into the card designs from the get-go. The likeness of Chris Ramsay can be seen on the face of Red Fox’s King of Clubs and Evan the Card Guy’s face appears at the centre of his favourite card, the Nine of Hearts.

“I was flying home one day and [the plane] was on cruise, so I just whipped out the camera and did a quick little card trick… [with] the King of Clubs, which is [Chris’s] card,” Kelly says. “I knew it wasn’t going to fool him, but [my video] ended up on his YouTube channel.”

The card design’s secret lies in the age-old trickery of making certain colours and designs pop with the use of a red-lens filter. The hand-designed graphics on the back of each playing card incorporate minute markings which the eye can only capture after it’s been trained to spot them with the filter first.

In this way, once the magician is practiced, he is able to recognize the number and suit of a holder’s card without seeing its face side.

The deck also includes a variety of gaff cards, or trick cards, for the magician’s use, such as double-sided face cards or a Queen that’s holding a miniature card in her own hand.

Beyond just magic-related details, the ten Hoves took great pains to personalize their Red Fox deck. The face of the Queen of Hearts bears the image of Ricki. The Jack of Clubs and another Queen contain minute details that are important to their children, like hot dogs, Lego, rainbows, and soccer balls.

“We try and make it our story inside the cards, too,” Ricki says. “We’re trying to share about who we are in the cards.”

The couple’s next goal is to create Red Fox brand add-ons to keep buyers coming back. As well, they’ve developed a set of traditional playing cards without the secret details built in.

“Four months ago, I had six followers on Instagram and five of them were family,” muses Kelly. “So it’s come a long way… When all the people on Kickstarter start getting their decks and they show videos online unboxing them and using [them], other people will start noticing… so it has a lot of space to grow yet.”

For more information

www.redfoxplayingcards.com

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