by The Bloom Report | 12 Apr 2022
Biographies and Interviews
Hi Dianne! Thank you for taking time to talk to us today. Do you have a mantra that you live by?
That all people have untapped potential.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I just wanted to make a living drawing. I got my first job with Steve Rehkemper illustrating toy concepts. I had included a drawing of a Pinocchio marionette in my portfolio, and fortunately that was enough for Steve to take a chance on me. I am forever grateful.
What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry
The process of working with a team of people to create an object conjured up from the synapses in our brains that will bring happiness to others is still a miracle to me.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Play seems to be a bigger part of our lives for a longer part of our lives. I’m excited to see that continue, and for play to be leveled up as an essential agent for well-being.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Please know that I see concepts as gifts. I can’t wait to unwrap it and see what the possibilities might be!
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Follow your hunches, the voice that says, “I think I might be interested in this”. When I graduated from college I didn’t know what to do, where to put my focus. Should I pursue freelance commercial art, work for an ad agency, be that bohemian artist…just keep killing it with my waitressing career?? Someone, 20 years my senior, who I really respected told me “do everything”. He meant do all of it. Make efforts towards ALL your hunches. Only when you dive in will you find out if it’s for you or not.
What advice do you have for people starting in the industry?
Work for someone else first, find a mentor and be the best mentee ever.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
There are rewards all along the way, from ideating, to executing, to seeing the final production of a toy or game in the hands of the end user.
What and/or who inspires you?
People that have overcome great odds or obstacles and changed the trajectory of their lives due to their own grit and “never give up” spirit. I keep George M. Moore Jr’s saying “A winner is a loser that tries one more time” on my desk.
What excites you?
Seeing a product brought to life …and coffee.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
My best ideas appear when I give myself the mental space and time to focus solely on ideation. It’s a disciplined daily practice without muses. I love conflating jarring arenas. If I’m looking for that perfect Girls Collectible, I might walk thru a hardware store to mash the two worlds together.
What words describe how you think or how your brain works?
Divergent/Convergent, Divergent/Convergent, Repeat, Repeat…
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Toys -Barbie and Little Kiddles (The girls collectible of its day). My favorite way to play was to make stuff for them, clothes, furniture, and houses.
Games -I absolutely loved playing games with my mom’s side of the family, the Italians. Tripoly was the big one. All ages played together after Thanksgiving dinner- resembling the loudest bar in Vegas. We used real money. Kids and gambling, can’t beat it. That is absolutely one of my fondest childhood memories.
Where were you born?
Pittsburgh, or the “Burgh”
What was your life like growing up?
Kind of idyllic, minus broken bones and lacerations due to a lack of supervision and helmets. I belonged to a tribe of 3 brothers and 25 cousins, most in close proximity. We were in constant, nonstop, play mode.
What are your favorite childhood memories?
Being at my grandparent’s lake house, even more freedom with even less supervision, add in fire and a body of water. What could possibly go wrong?
Do you have any kiddos?
I have a daughter, Amelia. She’s who I want to be when I grow up. An amazing human full of wisdom and compassion presently in medical school at Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Gray’s Anatomy. My husband and I are watching all 18 seasons, started with Season 1, Episode 1. We now have a life plan.
What’s in your fridge?
Beef and tofu, representing my husband and myself respectively.
What is the last time you did something for the first time?
Two summers ago, I camped for the first time in beautiful Wisconsin. Home of PlayMonster and delicious cheese curds.
What are your favorite sports and sports teams?
STEELERS!!! Or as we say in Pittsburgh, “Stillers”.
Everything would have been different if…
…I had stayed in Pittsburgh. Moving to Chicago was tough at first, but the opportunities I found here were not available in Pittsburgh. Chicago continues to surprise, entertain, and nurture me. Love it so much. No matter where I go in the world, I am always thrilled to come home to Chicago.
The toy and game industry clearly has….
…some of the funniest people in the world.
I’m lucky that….
…I have an incredibly loving, supportive family, my hubby David and daughter Amelia, and a career I love.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Be the owner of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Truck
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