Sweet Suite 2016

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...]

WIT Empowerment Day Kicks Off Toy Preview Week

41dded0b-ae0a-4638-b271-22048f6fdd4fFall Toy Preview week will begin on September 26 with Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment’s (WIT) and Walmart’s WIT Empowerment Day at the Dallas Market Center, according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). [Read more...]

WIT Stories: June 2016

Wi-Stories_Logo-1Every month, Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in toys, licensing, and entertainment and within the organization. These members exemplify leadership, commitment to the industry and the mission of WIT, and it are proud to recognize and celebrate their diverse talents and contributions through their WIT Stories.


NICKELODEONFarnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz
Creator and Co-Executive Producer, Shimmer and Shine, Nickelodeon

Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz is the creator and co-executive producer of Shimmer and Shine at Nickelodeon. She has been a WIT Southern California Chapter member since 2016.

What is the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as a businesswoman today and why?
Stay true to your vision and know that the devil is in the details. There will always be a lot of information and opinions coming at you from every direction, but if you know the vision for what you are trying to accomplish, always keep that in sight. Also, it’s important to use the advice from others as guidance to get you to where you need to be.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
It was very challenging at first, to make the transition from my previous role at Nickelodeon to my new role as series creator. It took time to understand my new responsibilities, but I just kept working hard at it every day.

What advice would you offer women wishing to break into the toy/licensing/entertainment industry?
Soak up as much information as you can, review mommy blogs, watch YouTube, look in the toy aisle, and learn the industry from every angle possible.  And always keep that love for toys in your heart when you do it.

What inspired you to start your business?
I always like having goals to work towards, no matter how big—the bigger the better.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
Getting a series with Nickelodeon and being part of this amazing brand. Having grown up at Nickelodeon and worked on different shows, it’s been a dream come true to see Nickelodeon’s support in making my vision come to life in Shimmer and Shine. This show has been my passion because it’s so close to my heart. So now, not only do kids and parents get to share my love for the adorable twin genies-in-training through the show but they will also be able to see the characters come to life with the debut of an entire line of consumer products, including awesome toys from Fisher-Price.

Season two of Shimmer and Shine premieres Wednesday, June 15, at 12 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. The hit CG-animated series, which follows the magical adventures of twin genies-in-training, is currently the number-one preschool show in its time period on all TV. The first-ever consumer products line inspired by series will debut nationwide in July.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing kids enjoy the series and products that we work so hard to create.

What’s the ONE thing you recommend ALL businesswomen do right now to take their business or career to the next level?
Practice speaking—firm, clear, but still kind—because it can be a little hard to be heard.  If you practice, the way your message comes across will be heard exactly the way you intend.

What advice would you offer working moms?
We are all working moms in one way or another. Just always remember to make the time you spend with your kids full of love, kindness and good memories.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I try to make the rounds with my team to make sure I’m caught up on everything I need to know before the day starts.

What one thing helps you prepare (and relax) in the minutes leading up to a big pitch/presentation?
I practice out loud in my office and to relax, I surround myself with people on the team who make me laugh and put me at ease.

How do you recharge/reboot?
I like to go on walks during my lunch break. It helps me reset mentally and keeps me happy throughout the day.

What’s your favorite mobile app?
Instagram

What is your favorite productivity tip?
I like to keep active as much as I can throughout the day.  If I’m moving, my brain is moving too.

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
My family!

Who is your hero (in business, life or both)?
My Mother.

What does WIT membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career?
A membership with WIT opens new opportunities with other women in the industry. It’s an organization that helps us support and guide one another.

What has surprised you most about WIT?
I was so surprised to see how many chapters there are across the world.

What do you wish other people knew about WIT?
I wish more people were aware about the many different types of support WIT can offer women in the industry, including scholarships for undergraduate programs in toy design.


AshleyMadyAshley Mady
WIT President
President, Brandberry Inc.

Ashley Mady is the President of Brandberry, Inc., and has served as president of WIT since 2014. Brandberry creates, builds and licenses brands, with key areas of focus on toys, candy, cosmetics, children’s entertainment and interactive experiences. She has been a WIT South Florida Chapter member since 2010.

What is the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as a businesswoman today, and why?
To never give up and never grow up. The business of play is ever changing and both companies and consumers are fickle, so I’ve learned to constantly reinvent my pitches and my concepts. Half of the game is showing up and being okay to fail over and over again, your odds get better as you go along. If you can find the fun in the challenge, you’ll enjoy the journey too!

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
Going out on my own. In 2009, I started Brandberry to follow my passions to create and build brands. Although my network was small, my dreams were big. I decided to make it my mission to build a rich network quickly and one of the avenues that really helped was getting involved in WIT.

What advice would you offer women wishing to break into the toy/licensing/entertainment industry?
The industry is small, so once you are IN you’re IN! Start building and fostering relationships early and getting involved in the industry at large. People move around a lot, so you never know what doors will open for you as time goes on.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
Becoming president of WIT. When I got involved with the organization back in 2010, I had no idea it was going to play such a big part in my life. In 2014, the idea of chairing the board was presented to me and I decided it was my chance to give back to this amazing organization that had already given so much to me. Serving in this role is an absolute honor.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Review my to do list, then work on something that inspires me. I find doing something I am passionate about in the morning charges my energy and helps set my intention for the day.

How do you recharge/reboot?
Getting moving! Really, anything that takes me away from the computer. I’m always working and thinking, but changing the environment is what gets me inspired and refuels my creative juices. It could be walking in nature, travel, doing some window shopping or even just spending time with the people I love.

What does WIT membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career?
It’s a game changer, if you use it properly. Very similar to a gym membership, if you don’t do anything with it, you won’t see the results. For me it has multiplied my network and opened lots of doors for new deals. I’ve made some great friends along the way too and like they say, people like to do business with their friends.

What has surprised you most about WIT?
That it is largely powered by volunteers. The inspired action has been snowballing for over 25 years and if you speak to anyone who is (or has been) involved in WIT, you’ll learn that if they give a little they get a lot out of it.

What do you wish other people knew about WIT?
That there are so many ways to get involved (in ways that benefit your business). So if you’re not already involved or not reaping the benefits you want, let us know and we can change that.


Karen KilpatrickKaren Kilpatrick
Vice President, JazWings; Creator of Pumpkinheads

Karen Kilpatrick is VP of Marketing at JazWings and the creator of Pumpkinheads. She has been a WIT South Florida Chapter member since 2014.

What is the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as a businesswoman today, and why?
Relationships matter. Leveraging relationships has provided more opportunities, both personally and professionally, than I could have imagined! I always try help others as much as I can, without expectation of anything in return, because that’s how I hope to be treated. People have helped me so much along my journey and I can only hope to pay it forward to others. Plus, when you treat the people you work with and for you well, you become more of a leader and less of a boss. And that’s important for a myriad of reasons, only one of which being you will inspire the best efforts of others, which is great for business!

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
I tend to have a difficult time letting go of control, which can be an impediment to progress and growth. It’s vitally important to surround yourself with people you trust who have skills that you lack. I have learned that building a great team is a must!

What advice would you offer women wishing to break into the toy/licensing/entertainment industry?
Show up, show up, show up. When I first entered this industry, not to long ago, I just made sure I was everywhere I could possibly be, from dinners to conferences to trade events. I introduced myself to everyone. I tried to learn as much as possible. I joined WIT! Learn the industry. Meet the people. Then make your moves!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love creating things – from stories to characters to products. And I love helping people build and market their own creations. Seeing brands progress and grow is extremely satisfying but the most fun will always be when I get that new idea and imagine all it might become!

What advice would you offer working moms?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is never possible to be all things at once so it’s okay to stop trying! I try to view my life as a whole and not compartmentalize as work versus home. Sometimes my role in business may command a lot more time and attention than I am able to give my role as mom, but other times I have to elevate my role at home over my business priorities. It’s important to not feel guilty and to realize you’re setting a good example for your children that women can accomplish a lot in the working world while still being a great mom. Just not all days will be equal!

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Whatever I want to do the least or whatever takes the most mental acuity. Usually if I’m procrastinating on something or not wanting to address it, it means it is something important to me that I’m subconsciously trying to avoid for fear of not doing well. Tackling difficult things in the morning when I’m most clear and least likely to be interrupted makes the rest of the day much smoother (usually!)

How do you recharge/reboot?
Exercise! I run, I do yoga – I really try to stay active daily. This is my time alone with myself, focusing on myself, and it’s important to my sanity!

What does WIT membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career?
Being a member of WIT transformed my career in the toy industry. A month after joining, I was presented with the opportunity to co-chair the S. Florida Chapter and immediately said “Yes!” This was an impactful decision. Through volunteering and helping as much as possible, I made connections and friends that have propelled my business and professional life beyond what I could have imagined. It is an incredible organization full of accomplished, amazing women who support each other that I’m proud to be a part of.

What has surprised you most about WIT?
In my previous career in the legal industry, there was no organization for women to join to receive support and guidance in navigating their legal careers. Even though women in the industry face a lot of challenges and impediments to growth, it was extremely difficult to find female mentors or other women willing to help professionally. WIT is the exact opposite of my experience in the law. WIT members genuinely support each other personally and professionally. It’s a place where you can learn the ropes if you’re new to the industry, and simultaneously a place where you can find new positions and opportunities as an industry veteran. It’s such a great and viable network.

What do you wish other people knew about WIT?
The more you give, the more you will gain! WIT is not an organization you should just join and then forget about – you have to participate and contribute in order to get the most out of your membership. Everyone is willing to help. You just need to ask.


Jodi Norgaard headshotJodi Bondi Norgaard
Founder and CEO, Dream Big Toy Company

Jodi Bondi Norgaard is the Founder and CEO at Dream Big Toy Company. She has been a WIT Chicago Chapter member since 2014.

What is the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as a businesswoman today, and why?
Conquer your fears and trust your intuition.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
Going against stereotypes is never easy. Many industry leaders told me my product would fail because it was not mainstream, it was not a fashion doll and girls like fashion. As a woman and a mother of a daughter I was positive girls like more that fashion and knew mainstream ideas never create change. In 2015 my product was in Walmart stores.

What advice would you offer women wishing to break into the toy/licensing/entertainment industry?
It is not easy and be prepared to work very hard. Make as many contacts as you can and always ask questions. People want to help.

What inspired you to start your business?
Nothing makes me cringe quite like “Lovely Lola”. I have told the story countless times when I first encountered “Lola” while shopping with my then 9-year-old my daughter, sitting on a shelf in a crop top, high heels and make up. It still makes me angry. I thought there is not one parent that wants their daughter to look, act or be called “Lovely Lola.” As angry as I was, Lola inspired me to create change and shatter stereotypes in the toy industry. Girls are strong, smart and adventurous and it is important to emphasize what a girl’s body can do versus what her body looks like.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
Having the opportunity through WIT to pitch my product to Walmart buyers. At the end of my five minute pitch they said yes!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Every letter, note, email I receive from girls and parents saying ‘thank you.’

What’s the ONE thing you recommend ALL businesswomen do right now to take their business or career to the next level?
Find a mentor…or two! A mentor can help you answer simple and difficult question. They can help you through the business highs and lows and there are many.

What advice would you offer working moms?
I am a working mom. Like all of us, we a juggling a lot. Outside help is beneficial. My kids are older now, but when they were younger, I would work before they got up in the morning, during school hours, then again after they went to bed. It was choppy, but it worked.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I answer emails and clean out my inbox. For the most part, I feel like I am getting a clean, fresh start in the morning.

What one thing helps you prepare (and relax) in the minutes leading up to a big pitch/presentation?
>Oddly, I have never been nervous minutes leading up to a big pitch or presentation. It is usually the night before that I tend to be nervous. The more I am prepared for my pitch/presentation, the less nervous I feel. Yoga helps me too!

How do you recharge/reboot?
I work out! Whether it is going for a bike ride, yoga, or a walk with the dog, exercising helps me recharge and focus.

What’s your favorite mobile app?
My favorite is the Go! Go! Sports Girl app…then Directory Spot and Fooducate.

What is your favorite productivity tip?
I’m going say it again, exercise. I am more productive when I incorporate exercise in my day.

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
My gym shoes!

Who is your hero (in business, life or both)?
Billie Jean King

What does WIT membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career?
WIT has helped to take my business to the next level by giving me the opportunity to pitch to Walmart. I have met amazing women who inspire me. I have been involved with a lot of organizations over the years and WIT is one of my favorites!

What has surprised you most about WIT?
The amount of passion, organization, and all the women wanting to help other women.

What do you wish other people knew about WIT?
How they are changing the toy industry.


Genji LeclairGenji Leclair
Merchandising Director, The Product Greenhouse

Genji Leclair is Merchandising Director at The Product Greenhouse. She has been a WIT Chicago Chapter member since 2014.

What is the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as a businesswoman today, and why?
My client’s perception is my reality! To always look at the project from their point of view. This is so important for generating collaborative problem solving and creating results.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been transforming my communication skills from being self empowered to empowering others around me. It’s a forever process that started when I realized I couldn’t run my business on my own. I had to start developing people around me, listening to their commitment, and trusting them to manage the business. I did this through communication courses, reading and practice.

What advice would you offer women wishing to break into the toy/licensing/entertainment industry?
My advice is to view yourself as an inventor, a toy maker, a development genius! Whatever it is that you do – that’s who you are. In this role, you are NOT A WOMAN, you are a PERSON contributing to children around the world by being in the toy industry, and you are unstoppable. You also have the resources of WIT to light the path.

What inspired you to start your business?
I was 19 and thought I knew everything! Honestly, I believed I could run a great company, better than what I saw available to me. And so – I decided to give it a go. 38 years later, I’m still enjoying being a business leader.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
There are a few. One was hitting 25 million in sales! That was a fun milestone. Getting our first million-dollar order was another, and getting an order for 10 million pieces of one item. I also remember walking through the airport in Germany and saw 2 people carrying bags we had designed and produced for Spiegel/Eddie Bauer. It’s always a boost to see our products out in the world. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing people use and enjoy the products we produce. Watching our team high five when a tough project wraps up and ships. Getting kudos from a client for a job well done. Knowing that we helped an inventor get their product into the world. Meeting the incredible people in this industry who are my friends forever!

What’s the ONE thing you recommend ALL businesswomen do right now to take their business or career to the next level?
I have two. First, take a look at your brand and create stunning packaging. Second is to find a mentor, someone who’s been in your shoes – older than you, and use them up!

What advice would you offer working moms?
Balance your time and make sure your kids know you love them. Feed them and hug them in the morning, and be there when they come home. And if they’re little, surround them with family and a great caretaker who can bring them around your office to see what Mom is up to. My kids grew up in my office, and they are both working in the business now. It was fun, and hectic, and all worked out just fine.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Get present to your overall goals. Why are you in this business, who are you to your employees, clients and the world. Read through your short- and long-term plan, every day Then take a moment to be with the universe (or whatever inspires you). Review your schedule, and make a list of your 6 priorities (actions). Leave a little room for surprises throughout the day, but resist doing anything else until you accomplish the 6. Then move on to another 6. That’s the secret – 6!

What one thing helps you prepare (and relax) in the minutes leading up to a big pitch/presentation?
If you are prepared, you won’t be nervous. Create your pitch, and practice it on others until it’s right where you want it. Be sure to have clarity of the outcome you want, and what you will be watching for and listening for throughout your presentation. When you get on the big stage – you’ll be focused on others, and not on yourself as much, and for that reason, you’ll do great.

How do you recharge/reboot?
Bourbon and a trip to the beach! A little yoga and time in the garden is wonderful too.

What’s your favorite mobile app?
Right now it’s Imago – but I also love to keep up with everyone on Facebook and LinkedIn.

What is your favorite productivity tip?
Be clear on your priorities for the day. Limit your to-do list to the top 6 ONLY. Do those and then choose 6 more. Use Smart Sheets and Outlook or Google to organize tasks and priorities.

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
Besides the internet? My husband? The kids – my Jack Russell and bees? Hum….. I can live without everything except my husband Steve, a little Sunshine and my Mac!

Who is your hero (in business, life or both)?
My hero in business is Martha Stewart. She has built an empire on empowering people, beauty and creativity. In life – my hero is my husband Steve. He never waivers, he’s my rock and my business partner, and I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather be on life’s journey with.

What does WIT membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career?
It means sisterhood, empowerment, confidence and power! I’ve been fortunate to sponsor WIT and from that, meet and work with so many talented and passionate women in the industry.

What has surprised you most about WIT?
The reach, the size, the high level of talent and leadership.

What do you wish other people knew about WIT?
I wish for people to know that WIT is there to empower people in the toy industry to succeed and reach the world with their products. And we have a lot of fun along the way.


Click here to nominate someone for WIT Stories.

Women in Toys Announces Nominees for 12 Annual Wonder Women Awards

45d2d355-1dc4-46da-af13-75bedb5a57b8Women in Toys Licensing and Entertainment (WIT), will honor a dozen women business leaders, its founders, and more than 50 finalists at the 12th Annual Wonder Women Awards Gala, which is also celebrating 25 years of the organization.

Game Changer Stylist Micaela Erlanger and Positive Body Image Advocate and Supermodel EMME will be present WIT’s Game Changer Award to Mattel. WIT will also present Sydney and Toni Lowe, two toy making entrepreneurs and the creators of Poketti pocket plush, with the Wonder Girl Award. [Read more...]

Women in Toys to Host Events at Nuremberg Toy Fair

WITWomen in Toys is kicking off trade show season with two events at the Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Nuremberg on January 28.

The WIT Panel Discussion: Shifting Trends in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment will bring industry experts to share business insights with the audience. Topics to be discussed include kid trends in the toy business, the future of licensing, the popularity of STEM toys, changing trends in crowdfunding and social media, and more. Panelists include Trudi Bishop, head of marketing and licensing at Cartamundi; Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder and CEO of Fundamentally Children; Fay Goodman, managing director of Goodmedia Ltd.; and will be moderated by Patti Becker, CEO and founder of Becker Associates LLC. Click here to RSVP for the free event. [Read more...]

WIT Announces New Executive Committee and Board Appointment

WITExecutiveCommitteeWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment has elected a new Executive Committee, which will provide strategic direction and guide WIT in its efforts to provide members with business advancement, education, mentoring, and recognition. [Read more...]

WIT Adds Social Influencer Award Category

WIT_combomarkhor11-300x104Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment (WIT) has added a “Social Influencer” award to the category line-up for its 2016 WIT Wonder Woman Awards.

WIT created the Social Influencer category to honor women in social media who have contributed innovative content, resulting in positive consumer influence and engagement. This includes audience reach, expertise and credibility, and the strength of the relationship with their fans and followers. Journalists, blogger, bloggers, industry analysts, celebrities, and brand advocates can be nominated for the award.  [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...]

Mark Cuban to Deliver Keynote at WIT Empowerment Day

WIT.logoWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) has announced that business maverick and entrepreneur Mark Cuban will deliver the opening keynote at this year’s WIT Empowerment Day, which will be held at Dallas Market Center on October 5.

[Read more...]