Have you heard of The Wumblers yet? If not, you will. The Wumblers is a brand new inspirational children’s cartoon slated for network debut later this year—and I’ll tell you more about the show itself tomorrow—but whether you have preschoolers or not, whether the show interests you or not, the story behind this project is one that will amaze and inspire you.
Pictured to the side here is Laura J. Wellington (with a couple of stuffed Wumblers), age 40, creator of the multi-colored creatures. I think she looks remarkable for a woman who never sleeps, don’t you? And despite her protestations to the contrary, I’m pretty sure she never does sleep. It just doesn’t seem mathematically possible, given her life. Here; see for yourself:
Every day, she is busy running Wellington Consulting, a technology company providing a broad range of services, and Wellington Financial Systems, her company which provides software and systems to some of the big houses in the financial industry. On top of that, since August of 2006 she’s been managing her new baby, Giddy Gander, which owns The Wumblers.
That’s a lot to be doing, don’t you think?
Now what would you think if I told you that in addition to those commitments, Ms. Wellington has four children, ranging in age from 7 to 13? How about if I told you that she was widowed four years ago, and is doing all of this not only on her own, but in the wake of recovering from the horrible blow dealt to her family by her husband’s death?
Now do you understand why I refuse to believe this woman ever sleeps?
Most people would react to a tragedy such as the one Ms. Wellington was forced to face by doing one of two things: Retreating from work commitments to tend to their family, or immersing themselves in work to the detriment of the kids at home. Either way, you could hardly blame someone in mourning for simply not having the wherewithal to, well, do it all.
And this is exactly why Laura Wellington is not “most people,” and also why I really enjoyed my time speaking with her even though she does all of this and runs over three miles on her treadmill every morning. Ordinarily I would have to hate such a person immediately (from right here at my desk, where I routinely opt for snacking over exercising), but instead I found myself wondering if maybe she would adopt me.
Left to rebuild her life and the lives of her four children, Ms. Wellington began sketching again. The wumblers, as she’d called them when she first started drawing them as a child, proved to be a tool for talking through and dealing with the sadness her family was feeling. These little creatures were kind and accepting, and soon people were suggesting that they might make a great show for preschoolers. So the Wellingtons—all of them—set out to make it happen.
“My kids are phenomenal,” Ms. Wellington says, with quiet pride. “They’ve been through a lot. That ‘a lot’ has brought us closer. We have a very tight family. A very pitch-in family. They’re very much involved with the series as well. They have helped me cast the voices for the series, and they have helped me work through artwork. They’ve read through scripts with me. It’s very important to me to involve them. And they’re a heck of a focus group to have in-house!”
She goes on to draw the parallel between her business associates and her children: “[My business partners and I] work well together and we respect each other. Same thing with the kids: I respect them. And it works. It’s an old-fashioned way of raising kids. They have obligations to the family beyond themselves and we work together as a team.”
This philosophy of mothering and family is the core of Ms. Wellington’s values for her business as well as for her personal life. “Anything of quality takes mothering,” she asserts. “Whatever you’re endeavoring to do. You have to be able to rise to the occasion and be that mother, be that person; be that leader.” Here she pauses. “If I’m going to perfect or create any kind of children’s television program and come into your house and say ‘Let your children watch this,’ I’d better have some credibility behind me in my own personal life.”
And that, apparently, is how you balance creating a hot new children’s property and raising some great kids.
Now poised on the edge of launch, The Wumblers will premiere on TBN this Fall and licensing and merchandising are already underway. This is the point at which, often, the corporate machine would spring to life and a series’ creator would become but a tiny cog in the process. But Ms. Wellington retains complete creative control over the property. “I’m very hands-on as far as the creation of the show. Everything that I take part in has to be, for me, something I’m very proud of, and live up to the reputation I’ve built for myself.”
When I suggest that this level of involvement is unusual, she laughs. “You’re looking at someone who does not fit the norm. It’s my life, and I really love it.”
Come back tomorrow to find out more about the Giddy Gander Company and The Wumblers, and for further evidence that Laura Wellington never sleeps.