WIT Hosts Summertime Referral Contest

WITLogoWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) is hosting a referral contest from June through September. The chapter with the highest percentage of new members brought in through referrals will win $100 to be used toward any event and a Project Genius brainteaser bundle valued at $500 for the winning chapter’s local charity or school of choice. Plus, referring a member will receive $25 off their next WIT membership renewal.

To participate, have a friend fill out an application here and make sure the “Who Referred You?” box is filled out.

Registration Open for WIT Empowerment Day

womenintoysThe Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT)’s Empowerment Day will be on Oct. 2 this year, the day before the Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. WIT Empowerment Day is held in collaboration with Walmart and will feature product pitches, mentorship, and face-to-face connections with various members of the industry.

The goal of the event is to help entrepreneurs, manufacturers, inventors, and business owners to strengthen their career in toys, games, licensing, and entertainment. Members of WIT will be able to pitch their products to Walmart buyers and pitch products and concepts to companies such as Hasbro, Spin Master, PlayMonster, and Jazwares for licensing or feedback. Opportunities for “Ask an Expert” Info Sessions and “Looking to Launch” Bootcamp sessions will also be available for members.

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WIT Introduces New Board and Advisory Members

LOGO1 copyWomen in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) added two new members to its board of directors. Gena Lavallee, senior buyer at Toys “R “Us, and Brandi Pinsker, founder and CEO of Project Genius, were recently appointed to the board. Maura Regan, executive vice president at LIMA Licensing, was also appointed to WIT’s advisory board.

WIT also welcomed chairs in its Puerto Rico and France divisions. Tree House Kids vice president Johanna López-Falero was appointed to Puerto Rico, while 123 Conseil Director Christine Pagini and Bandai Country Manager Mathilde Dezalys were appointed in France.

WIT to Host Next Learn the Ropes Webinar

WITLearntheRopesWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) will host its next “Learn the Ropes” webinar, Responsible Sourcing 101: The Essentials of Ethical Toys, tomorrow from 12 to 1 p.m. Presented by Carmel Giblin, president and CEO of the ICTI Care Foundation, the webinar will give a better understanding of why responsible sourcing plays a vital role in the toy and entertainment industry. [Read more...]

WIT Announces Winners at Annual Wonder Women Awards Gala

WIT2017The 13th annual Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) Gala hosted more than 600 industry executives and honored leaders in the toy industry.

The 2017 Wonder Women Awards Winners include ZAG’s Andre Lake Mayer as Wonder Woman in Entertainment; Mattel’s Jennifer Bennett as Wonder Woman in Licensing; Jazwares’ Laura Zebersky as Wonder Woman in Manufacturing; and PlayMonster’s Lisa Wuennemann as Wonder Woman in Marketing. Six winners were also awarded the Wonder Woman Rising Star award, including The Toy Book/The Toy Insider’s Marissa DiBartolo; IAmElemental’s Julie Kerwin; JazWings’ Karen Kilpatrick; Disney’s Kathryn Hardy; Hasbro’s Nikki Kennamer; and Moose Toys’ Stephanie Haggery.  [Read more...]

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 Opens Nominations for Thirteenth Annual Wonder Women Awards

WITLogoWomen in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) announced that nominations are now open for the thirteenth Annual Wonder Women Awards. WIT also announced new nominations guidelines, criteria, voting process, timelines, and elimination of the entry fee to nominate. [Read more...]

WIT Appoints Alita Friedman as New Treasurer

aab6aad2-a22f-4341-bc46-68266bb7bbbbWomen in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) appointed Alita Friedman as the new WIT Treasurer. In her role, Friedman will set yearly budgets, monitor financial goals, and liaison with WIT chairs across various initiatives to maximize profits and establish new revenue streams. Friedman will also aid in developing WIT’s overall growth strategy.

Friedman currently serves as the principal at Alita’s Brand Bar. She previously was principal and chief brand officer for Uglydoll and began her career as a CPA and auditor at Arthur Anderson. Friedman was honored with the WIT Wonder Women Award for Marketing and Branding in 2013 and is the 2015 recipient of the President Farrington Award for her outstanding commitment to entrepreneurship at Lehigh University.

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...]

Pitch Deadline For WIT Empowerment Day Extended

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 3.09.00 PMThe deadline to submit a pitch for Women In Toys’ (WIT) Empowerment Day is extended to tomorrow, Sept. 2. Entrepreneurs, toy or game inventors, small manufacturers, consultants, and designers can register for Women In Toys’ (WIT) Empowerment Day on September 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Dallas Market Center.

Attendees will have a chance to meet one-on-one with and pitch products to Walmart buyers, inventor relations executives from Hasbro, Spin Master, Moose Toys, and Jazwares, and other toy industry experts. The day will also feature interactive information sessions, panel discussions, and networking. [Read more...]