Ivy Bleser - Unlike Other Design Industries, Toy Design Encompasses Many Different Design Disciplines: Fashion, Interior (playsets), Vehicle, Makeup, Hair, Graphics, Dolls and Much More

by Ivy Bleser | 09 Jul 2022

Biographies and Interviews



Hi Ivy! Thank you for taking time for an interview with us. Let's start with your roles and responsibilities in our industry? 


I am a product design manager, currently for the Polly Pocket brand at Mattel. 



Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry? 


My path was different than a lot of my contemporaries, my mom & dad were actually both Toy designers/inventors, so I literally grew up in the Toy industry. I used to joke that I grew up with a plastic spoon in my mouth. Now you can get a degree in Toy design, but when I was starting out, there was no specific degree for that, people came from all different design industries like graphic, fashion and vehicle design. I initially didn’t want to go into toy design because my parents both did it…so I got a degree in fashion design, but got so disillusioned with that industry and when an opening came up for toys, I took it because of my background and never looked back!



What are you working on now?


I’m working on Polly Pocket now, but I’ve been lucky to work on so many girl’s brands-Barbie, Monster High, Disney princess, Baby dolls, small dolls and collectibles to name a few.



What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry? 


The ability to create toys that kids really connect with, toys are such a big part of a kid’s life, being able to create toys that become part of their childhood memories is just magical to me and feels like such important and meaningful work!


I also feel that unlike other design industries, Toy design encompasses so many different disciplines; fashion design, interior design (playsets), vehicle design, makeup, hair, graphics, doll & pets etc… you don’t have to just choose one thing! Because of this, it’s very unique and never boring, it’s always changing!



If you look back at yourself 10 years ago is this where you thought you’d be? 


Where did you think you’d be? What changed? What went right? 10 years ago I was a designer and thought I would never go into management, but now I realize that being able to lead a design team and guide the vision for a whole brand is creative in a totally different and rewarding way. I also love mentoring new designers.



What advice do you have for people starting in the industry? 


Put yourself in a child-like mindset, it sounds simple, but many people forget that in the end, that’s why we’re doing this, toys should be fun! There are so many realities of the toy industry that are crucial, like costs and manufacturing challenges, but it’s so important to stay playful and think like a kid!



What’s your workspace setup like? 


I always have a bunch of toys around me, so I can be hands on with product and play every day



How do you define innovation? 


This word can be so overused, it can of course mean thinking outside the box, coming up with something “never seen before”… but it can also be doing something classic, but in a totally new way or a mash-up of things that aren’t usually put together. It’s important to be innovative about how you think of innovation!



Where do you come up with your best ideas? 


Usually when I’m doing something unrelated to design that is kind of meditative or brainless like driving or taking a walk. I often am taking a break and not thinking directly about coming up with ideas and then it can just hit me out of the blue. Also, having observed my own kids playing informs a lot of my ideas.



What words describe how you think or how your brain works? 


Playful! I love to try new things and seek out inspiration every day!



What was your favorite toy or game as a child? 


I loved the Sunshine Family, I had the farm with a cow you could milk and chickens that laid eggs. Also, I loved anything that was miniature.


polly pocket mattel design toy design

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!