Toy Fair 2017


C2C Studios

WIT Member Spotlight: Anne Marie Kehoe

by Genna Rosenberg, Principal at GennComm & WIT Executive Board Member

Anne_Marie_KehoeWhether you call them wonder women, girl heroes, girls action stars, or girls with power, each corner of the toy industry is filled with powerful women knocking down barriers, pushing through walls, and empowering those around them. They support, promote, and inspire each other through connections, purpose, and empowerment. Providing opportunities to women economically is smart business, and no one knows that better than this industry’s own superhero, Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president, toys at Walmart and recipient of the 2016 Women in Toys Retailer of the Year Award. She is a real-life action hero in the toy world, committed to providing opportunities for women-owned businesses at Walmart. The Toy Book recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kehoe and discuss the role women are playing in the toy industry, Walmart’s commitment to source from women-owned companies, and what it’s like to be a bonafide Wonder Woman.

Why is it important for Walmart to source from women-owned businesses?

The short answer is that empowering women economically is smart business. Our women’s empowerment work is a step forward in our commitment to help people live better and a defining issue for our business and the world. For Walmart, empowering women helps us better understand and serve our customers, find the best talent, and promote economic growth in the communities we serve. Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment program has the potential to be a game-changer for women and for economic growth. By tapping its core competencies as a global retailer, Walmart will empower more women to access markets and develop careers in the global supply chain, transforming their lives and the lives of their families.

Poketti

Two of WIT’s youngest members and co-creators of Poketti pitch their plush toys to Walmart.

Through its Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, Walmart is paving the way for women-owned companies. How do toys and WIT fit into the overall mission?

Through Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, we’ve set goals and we are taking practical steps to help change the lives of countless women around the world. We are committed to sourcing $20 billion from women-owned businesses for our U.S. business and double sourcing from women suppliers in international countries where we do business. Additionally, we have set goals to empower nearly 1 million women through training and promote diversity and inclusion representation within our suppliers.

Through its annual Empowerment Day held each year at the Dallas Toy Fair, WIT has been an incredible pipeline to women-owned business leaders. Our buyers are able to network with companies they may not have access to, and manufacturers can pitch their products to Walmart, participate in learning sessions and panels, and empower women to reach their goals. WIT is an important partner in this endeavor, and the event works as a two-way street. WIT members provide us with a robust pipeline to mine for new and innovative products we can provide to our consumers, and we provide WIT members an opportunity to meet with buying teams to which they may not normally have access.

What does it mean to be recognized as a WIT Wonder Woman?

It was really an honor to be recognized. But with the honor comes great responsibility, which I take very seriously. Throughout my career, I’ve strived to create pathways for women from all areas and WIT gives me an opportunity to do just that. I strongly believe in WIT’s objective—and am a member of the Empowerment Committee and advisory board. I am committed to the organization’s mission of providing a collaborative, supportive environment and unparalleled opportunities that foster relationship building and innovation, all designed to help them advance women in their careers and succeed in business.

Kehoe accepts her Wonder Woman 2016 Retailer of the Year award.

Kehoe accepts her Wonder Woman 2016 Retailer of the Year award.

What is the story behind the “Women Owned” logo that Walmart helped develop?

Women are our biggest customer base by far, and when given the opportunity, many women will buy from women-owned companies. In partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International, we developed the “Women Owned” logo to help customers easily identify products made by women-owned businesses sold through any retailer, not just Walmart. All women-owned businesses that are WBENC and/or WEConnect certified are eligible to display the logo on their product packaging.

Can you give an example of a success story that came as a result of Walmart’s Women Economic Empowerment initiative?

During the very first WIT Women Empowerment Day, our buyers met Jodi Norgaard from Dream Big Toys. She had a line of dolls, books, and apps called Go, Go Sports Girls that promote self-appreciation and healthy life skills. When our team met with Norgaard, we saw something unique and wanted more, so we gave her some suggestions and agreed to a test in 50 stores. Within two years, her product was in 162 stores and we are proud to provide her products, which support creative play and social-emotional growth through sport, and encourage girls to dream big.

In another example, we are currently selling doll clothes made by apparel merchandising students from the University of Arkansas. A few years ago, through our Women’s Empowerment Initiative, we reached out to students at Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas to design a doll clothing line for My Life As dolls in Walmart. The program allows students to interact directly with professionals in the apparel industry, build their resumes and portfolios with hands-on experiences, and showcase their work in a national retail arena.

What’s next for Walmart and its Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative?

As a company, we don’t believe that we have to choose between being a successful business and a responsible one. We have a model for making a difference that works. And when we combine the Walmart model with women’s empowerment, we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference on the big challenges facing our world.

WIT Announces Empowerment Day Speakers and Industry Experts

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 3.09.00 PMWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) announced the speakers and experts who will be participating in its annual WIT Empowerment Day event, to be held on Sept. 26, the day before Fall Toy Preview in Dallas officially begins. Held in collaboration with Walmart and the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the day includes informational sessions and panels to help WIT members with their businesses.

This year, WIT has gathered industry experts, buyers, speakers, and panelists from the toy industry to help woman-owned start ups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners grow their businesses. [Read more...]

Marvel Debuts Black Panther Merchandising Program

black panther comicMarvel is rolling out a new merchandising program inspired by Black Panther in time for his first appearance as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new comic book written from Ta-Nehisi Coates, and 50th anniversary. The campaign will touch on all major categories including publishing, apparel, toys, collectibles, home goods, and more.

The licensing program features a wide range of products inspired by both the new Marvel comic book debuting April 6th and Black Panther’s first film appearance in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War film in May. The products will feature standalone representations of the hero, as well as team-oriented sets inspired by the new film. [Read more...]

Rubie’s Wins Seasonal Supplier of the Year Award from Walmart

RubiesLogoRubie’s Costume Co., the industry leader in licensed Halloween costumes and dress up, was awarded the Seasonal Supplier of the Year Award from Walmart. The award was presented at Walmart’s Year Beginning Meeting on Jan 12.

Moose Toys Awarded Toy Supplier of the Year from Walmart

MooseToysMoose Toys has been named “Toy Supplier of the Year” from Walmart at the annual supplier summit held on Feb. 11 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Last year, Moose Toys topped U.S. toy sales with Shopkins, with the Shopkins 12-pack as the hottest selling toy of the year, according to the NPD Group. The company also grew from the 25th position to the industry’s sixth ranked toy manufacturer in the U.S., according to The NPD Group.

COMMENTARY: Positive Outlook for 2016

After attending the TIA’s Fall Toy Preview in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I feel confident that 2016 is going to be an even better year for the toy industry. While the show floor seemed quieter than in years past, the majority of companies I met with were upbeat and excited for holiday 2015 and the year ahead. A number of my meetings were cut short due to drop-ins by Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us buyers, which is always a good sign.

The industry is expected to be up approximately 6 percent this year, and I expect this success to carry over to 2016. I saw a higher than usual number of new lines, and interesting expansions of successful products, proving that manufacturers are riding high on the wings of rising sales, leaving them willing and able to take some risks. [Read more...]

WIT Gathers Resources for Upcoming Empowerment Day Panels

WIT.logoWomen in Toys (WIT) has gathered business executives, celebrities, government officials, and more for the panel slate of its upcoming WIT Empowerment Day. Scheduled to take place on October 5 at the Dallas Market Center, WIT Empowerment Day will provide opportunities to meet with panelists, as well as more than a dozen hand-selected expert industry mentors, who can offer advice on how to grow businesses and get concepts to market. The event is free to WIT members.

[Read more...]

Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Available for Pre-Order at Canadian Retailers

PlaymationThis past week, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), along with Hasbro Inc., announced the pre-sale of Playmation Marvel’s Avengers at select Canadian retailers. A new system of toys and wearables, Playmation Marvel’s Avengers utilizes smart technology to inspire kids to run around and use their imaginations, as they become the heroes or heroines of stories from Marvel’s Avengers.

[Read more...]

Walmart Releases Chosen by Kids List of Top Toys for the Holiday Season

walmartWalmart has released its Chosen by Kids list, which features the top toys of the year as chosen by 1,000 kids. The retailer asked them to choose their favorite toys from among the newest items by Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master, and Zing. For consumers’ convenience during this upcoming shopping season, the list is organized by gender and age, as well as by the categories Future Foodies, Veterinarians in Training, Dreaming Design Stars, and Adventure-Seekers in the Making.

[Read more...]

Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Now Available for Preview at Select Disney Stores

Playmation Shoot (TBD)Kids and parents can now experience Playmation Marvel’s Avengers for the first time at participating Disney Store locations, where two- and five-minute training sessions are available daily. For those who want to take part in an expanded experience, 30-minute Avengers Gear Orientations are available on Saturdays and Sundays by reservation only. During the longer Avenger Gear Orientation, kids and parents can learn more about the Avenger Gear, follow instructions from JARVIS, and interact with other participants to complete missions and adventures.


[Read more...]