by April Mitchell | 06 May 2021
The Bloom Report
What exactly do you do in the industry?
I get to have fun by creating and playin- and I do so with my team- my family! It doesn’t get much better than that! I am an inventor/toy and game designer. I design games in the preschool category, family fun, party, light strategy, card games, outdoor/yard games, toys and more. Having kids of different ages has really helped us in the development of games and toys. Sometimes they help come up with ideas, some designs are based on games they have made up. They have helped with design, artwork, prototyping, game play, play testing, being in the videos and more. Even when I work with other inventors on concepts, my family playtests each concept and are in every video- unless its an adult game! But, the very best part is creating and testing games as a family! The family that plays together stays together!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
It just happened naturally actually! I didn’t see it coming and didn’t even know it was a profession like many people! I have a background in education and have four kids, so fun is something that happens on a daily basis in our house. As a teacher and mom I would make learning resources and games to help add fun to learning for my kids as well as make them relatable to themes the kids were into or enjoyed-that’s just something I did. In several classes during college we were assigned to make learning resources and learning games- I still have one of them actually! I never really thought of what I was doing as inventing or product developing until I invented my first product in the housewares industry out of need to fix a problem. Soon after I developed another product in the housewares industry- and had licensed them I got my wheels spinning and I thought – why not take some of the things we do and games we play and develop them so others can enjoy them too. And that is exactly what we are doing! Four of my concepts should be out within the next year or so.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job ever was working in a factory watching switches for air bags go by, looking for defective ones. Now, there is definitely nothing wrong with working in a factory- factories are essential and so are the workers, however I found out quickly it did not go well with my personality type-I need human interaction and to use my creativity daily. I enjoyed waitressing for several years through high school and college though, one summer during college I thought I would double up on jobs- let’s just say I didn’t last long and just asked for more hours waitressing where I could meet and talk with all kinds of people!
How do you define creativity?
Well, I think everyone was blessed with creativity in their own unique form whether it’s art, writing, designing engines or houses, making music, inventing, and everything in between. I think Creativity is the result of using our God given gifts and talents and combining them with imagination, experiences and knowledge. I think the more we tap into it, the more we get and grow as an individual!
How do you recharge or take a break?
I recharge by being out in nature. When I need a break- that is where you will find me. Whether it is going on a hike or bike ride or simply just sitting on my beach chair (Yes, sometimes in my driveway!) soaking up the sun, breathing fresh air and listening to nature-it’s so calming and gives me the energy to tackle the next thing for the day. I try my best to get outside every day, even if it is only for 15-20 minutes.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Oh my goodness, I have so many! I loved my Rainbow Brite doll- I know that really dates me! I was a big fan of Barbies and saved them hopeful to pass them down to a daughter some day, so it is neat to play with them with her. Some of my favorites were the Pilot, Flight Attendant, and Joe from New Kids on the Block – between my sisters and I – we had all the whole band and the stage! Now my younger two have created/invented products for my daughter’s Barbies, which is super cool! I also spent many hours using my Skip It and my Rollerblades! There were a lot of favorite games too, but I would have to say at the top of the list was Uno and Spoons(we played with metal spoons and had lots of tournaments growing up-and all my fingers are still attached).
What was your life like growing up?
I really had a blessed childhood. My parents were great and supportive. My Dad was all about fun- creating all the time and the jokster- still the reigning champion of Spoons! Our house was the hangout house and full of laughter. I also saw and experienced hard work and what it takes to run a business from my parents. I played sports and water-skied every summer. We grew up with over 24 cousins all in the same neighborhood- playing sports and games- along with neighborhood friends there was never a short of kids to play with.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
To be honest I have quite the advantage having four kids! They are so creative and it is easy to feed off of it, be inspired or for something to spark just watching them or playing with them. Just yesterday my daughter taught us a new way to play Uno- she completely had made it up the day prior and it was a new spin on a family favorite. I have licensed a couple concepts by just walking out of my office or house to see my kids playing something so fun I just had to try it! We took their ideas and reworked them a little to be able to bring the fun to others. I like to joke that “I embrace the creativity and chaos” of our family of six to help us invent new concepts. So whenever I need a jumpstart, I simply spend more time with my kids and then do a brainstorm session- sometimes by myself, with them, or another inventor.
Who are your favorite musicians, singers or musical groups?
I bounce back and forth and like so many genres but one of my all time favorites is George Straight- he is truly remarkable. I have been really enjoying Imagine Dragons the last couple of years, and let’s not forget about my childhood favorite New Kids On The Block(when they had a comeback tour I just had to go!)! I have seen all of these artists in concert as well as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks, Justin Timberlake, Kiss, Matchbox20 and many others-all so different, yet so fun!
What’s your beverage of choice?
I am a HUGE Dr Pepper fan! I have been since I was a kid and back then the only place you could get it was at Burger King- now it’s almost everywhere. I do try to limit my intake to once a week though!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Gosh, that’s a tough question! I’m not sure but I always thought it’d be fun to be an actress or a TV Show host –maybe a TV Show host that gets to reveal new products and test them out on live TV? Know anyone that can make that happen?! Well if not, I ‘ll have to give it some more thought, but in the mean time I will keep having fun inventing and playing with toys and games!
How can we reach the next generation and encourage them to get into the toy and game industry?
This is a great question and something I have been thinking a lot about lately actually. I think as an industry looking at students gearing towards college or trying to inspire kids is a great start. I also think there is a missing piece to this puzzle though. There are so many of us out here with kids that are inventing, creating, and trying to break the door down into the industry. When companies open the door to new inventors- especially those that are parents and grandparents they are also opening the door to future generations. The kids of these inventors are being inspired by their parents, seeing their parents do fun and amazing things, seeing ideas come to life in a tangible way before their very eyes, and often get the chance to be involved! Sparking this love for creating by watching and being involved in the process with their parents or a mentor is a special experience that will fully impact a child’s life. I believe companies that give new inventors a chance and take them seriously have the ability to really affect the next generation in a way that could have easily been missed.
The toy and game industry clearly has….
Amazing, fun, and kind people in it who take joy in helping others connect in fun and innovative ways! I always enjoy meeting new people in the industry- so many stories, expertise, knowledge, and great people! I look forward to meeting new people and companies as I present new concepts.
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