Magic only exists when people share it, says Michael Rosander.
The Wilmington magician has been sharing magic for nearly 20 years, including with the children who attend his magic camps and in performances for area schools, parties, companies and organizations.
This year, he and a business partner are taking their brand of teaching magic to kids to a new level.
In a company called Discover Magic, Rosander and Utah-based magician Brian Daniel South have been creating magic curriculum, tricks and products aimed at a larger market.
“We create custom magic props and custom magic lessons that support our mission, and our mission is to empower kids, building their character, their confidence and communication skills through teaching them the art of magic,” Rosander said.
An $11,000 Kickstarter campaign for the company’s line of small magic tricks, Tricks Instead of Treats, was funded in 24 hours, with 408 backers pledging more than $27,000 to help Rosander and South bring the line to a broader market. The magic tricks are contained in packets the size of trading cards, painstakingly conjured by Rosander and South right down to choosing special dyes.
The idea is that people can give the magic trick packets as treats on Halloween, but Rosander sees them also appearing in dentist office treasure boxes, Christmas stockings, as school prizes and even in corporate settings.
Earlier this year, Discover Magic won the $10,000 grand prize from The UPS Store National Pitch Competition, competing against 200 other video submissions.
The UPS Store launched the pitch competition earlier this year after conducting a survey and finding that 85 percent of small business owners believe that a good elevator pitch is a must-have for success, said Chelsea Lee of The UPS Store public relations department in an email. But 60 percent of current business owners stated they didn’t actually have that pitch, she said.
"Michael and his pitch video for Discover Magic truly stood out and rose to the top based on the contest criteria. He was able to clearly articulate his business concept while at the same time allowing his passion for his product to shine through. We were thrilled to present him with a $10,000 check to help him grow his business. We can’t wait to see what he does next," Lee said.
Another new product Rosander and South have pulled out of their hats is the Discover Magic Fun Book, a project they spent eight months working on to curate each page.
Rosander was inspired to compile some puzzles by a children’s magazine he saw during a doctor’s visit with his 2-year-old. Rosander and his wife and their daughter live in Wilmington.
“I thought it would be cool to make a one sheet of puzzles to get kids interested and to promote the business, and I told my partner about this,” Rosander said. “He loved that idea. We got going with so many puzzles we were like, ‘We just should make a book.’”
Meanwhile, Rosander and South continue to develop curriculums that more than 70 other magicians in the U.S. and worldwide are using in their own performances and classes.
Parents seek him out to ask him if he can reproduce the results they’ve seen in other campers – about 250 attend Rosander’s No Sleeves Magic Camps each year in Wilmington – such as overcoming a fear of public speaking.
“For us it really gave our son confidence and self-esteem. It gave him a creative outlet and a new interest,” said Christina Dees, whose 8-yearold son has attended No Sleeves camp and previously was shy in front of strangers.
The next phase for Discover Magic’s curriculum licensing effort is a push to get national children’s organizations to approve it as a potential tool for their branches.
Rosander said the money Discover Magic won from The UPS Store National Pitch Competition will allow the company to teach kids in Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S. for free and in turn use data gathered after classes to prove lessons’ the impacts.
In addition to Discover Magic and No Sleeves, Rosander also has a corporate component, RosanderMagic.com, for which he travels throughout the year to entertain adults at events for various companies and organizations.
Rosander didn’t set out to become a professional magician and businessman in the industry. In fact, at one time during his childhood, he had pushed magic out of his mind.
“When I was 5 years old my great-grandfather showed me a magic trick, and he meant the world to me. And I have that trick – it was the magic coloring book – I have it framed in my office. He showed me that and another trick, which I actually got to recreate in my magic course,” Rosander said.
But shortly after he showed Rosander the tricks, his great-grandfather died, and Rosander didn’t want to think about magic.
“I never saw a magic show, and I didn’t get into magic again until I was 17 years old,” he said. “How I got into it was, I’ve always loved acting [he has 13 acting credits listed on IMDB in TV shows and short films], and so I worked at this theme park called Tweetsie Railroad,” a Wild West-themed attraction in Blowing Rock.
Rosander performed in the park’s Rainmaker Show, which as the name suggests, required Rosander to “make” rain.
“On days it would [actually] rain, my job was pointless, and they said, ‘Hey, you need to do something,’” Rosander said. “I thought, ‘OK, well, I’ll teach myself some magic tricks, and I can walk around the park doing some close-up magic tricks.’”
He’d never seen a magician perform before so everything he did was self-taught, he said.
“I didn’t have money for a tuxedo; neither did my parents, so they got me a nice dress shirt – black, short sleeves – got some gray pants, black shoes, and I was off to the races,” Rosander said. “I kept performing my magic tricks and people said, ‘Hey, how did you do that? You don’t have any sleeves.’”
Their comments inspired the name of Rosander’s magic camp, performance and family entertainment business, No Sleeves, which he founded after starting magic camps while attending the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Rosander said one of his hopes for No Sleeves and Discover Magic is to raise interest in magic and the life lessons the art of magic can teach.
He said, “I really do think that we’re paving the way for the future of magic.”