Ashley Mady | Source: IT’SUGAR/The Toy Book

A familiar toy and licensing industry veteran has joined specialty retailer IT’SUGAR.

Ashley Mady joins the company from Basic Fun! to assume the newly created role of vice president of brand development. Mady will lead the retailer’s visual merchandising, private label, licensing, public relations, and marketing efforts. Additionally, Mady is tasked with establishing the creative direction to support IT’SUGAR’s short- and long-term growth strategies.

“We are very excited to have Ashley join our leadership team,” says IT’SUGAR CEO Jeff Rubin. “She is an extremely dedicated and talented professional who I am sure will help catapult IT’SUGAR to the next level, and beyond.”

IT’SUGAR — which operates 96 candy stores across North America — was hit hard due to pandemic-related mall closures and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September. Last month, owner BBX Capital Corp. revealed that the company had emerged from bankruptcy reorganized and ready to look toward the future with eyes on profitability and growth.

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Prior to her role as head of brand development at Basic Fun!, Mady worked closely with IT’SUGAR as head of Brandberry, a creative agency that created style guides, packaging, store graphics, and web content for the brand from 2011-2014.

“Ten years ago, I walked into an IT’SUGAR store and fell in love with the brand,” Mady says. “It was a brand I had to get my hands on, and when I did, I loved every second of it. The possibilities of where IT’SUGAR can go are limitless, and I can’t wait to see all we accomplish.”

Mady’s place within the toy industry continues as she currently serves on the board of The Toy Association and serves as committee chair for The Genius of Play. She previously spent six years as president of Women In Toys, Licensing and Entertainment.