In the toy business even the rubber bands are fun.
When I got a box of product samples in the mail recently, I started scrutinizing them for quality parameters. It wasn’t until I saw that the rubber bands holding the story cards together were silly bands, that I took a moment to realize how lucky I am to be making toys. If I were in the muffler business, there wouldn’t be silly bands anywhere near the product samples.
For me, it wasn’t that I wanted to make toys. It was that I wanted to make multicultural toys. I wanted to make toys that expressed how I feel about travel and culture and how interesting I find the world’s people.
I grew up in a college town in the midwest. It wasn’t terribly diverse, but my dad brought international students home for Thanksgiving and my mom was a consultant for inclusive K-12 curriculum in the public schools. I didn’t fly on a plane until my early teens and I took my first trip overseas to France for two weeks in high school. Then in my 20s I moved overseas for almost 10 years, living in Europe, Africa and Asia. I was enthralled.
When I had my kids during that time, I was thrilled that they were surrounded by different kinds of people. In addition to the culture of the country where we lived, we also had friends from around the world. I was happy that their environment was multicultural. I wanted the world to be open to them, and not limit their thinking in the future.
When we moved back to the U.S., I wanted that to continue, but there weren’t many multicultural toys. There were geography toys, language toys and multicultural dolls. I wanted toys that inspired kids with the interesting parts of everyday life in a new place.
I played with ideas. I started on designs. I got feedback from parents. Eventually, I hired artists. I worked with designers. I found a manufacturer. And to my great delight, I will soon have World Village Playsets. These are the first of the multicultural toys I dreamed up for you.
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