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.
To get many more ideas for you and your kids, make sure to check out Kid World Citizen and InCulture Parent. They are both excellent resources. For more resources, check our Resources page.
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