by Jane Bredemus | 25 May 2023
Biographies and Interviews
What is your claim to fame?
No claim to fame…yet. The goal is have one.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My kids. Being a mom.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
Lead, follow or get out of the way. It is important to be able to do all 3, to learn how to read a situation and react accordingly. Sometimes you’re the leader and you really need to step up. Following can be hard, or feel great because it is easy. And knowing when to get out of the way is a key life skill.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I spent most of my career in the marketing world, developing ideas for creative marketing campaigns. But deep down I always dreamed of owning a toy store, and after having kids I realized I had a ton of kid-focused product ideas.
I attended CHITAG/POP Inventor Pitch and Conference in 2019 and had a new inventor booth with a few ideas on display. A kind gentleman stopped at my booth and really liked my slime ideas. He told Aaron Muderick of Crazy Aaron’s to go check out my booth. I’m so grateful to this man because I’ve been lucky enough to work with Aaron and Kevin at Crazy Aaron’s on a few items! My first item with Crazy Aaron’s was Prediction Putty, a putty that answers questions (this was one of the concepts I shared at 2019 CHITAG/POP). I wish I knew who that gentleman was! If it was you, please reach out as I’d love to connect!
What are you working on now?
All kinds of stuff. I love compound, arts & crafts and baby/preschool toys. So those categories take up most of my time. But I also have a few core challenges I’m always trying to deliver on: items that deliver open-ended play, items that help kids be kids longer, items that make fun functional.
What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry?
To be honest, recently I’ve lost a bit of motivation, but I’m determined to get it back. I have an inventor friend who helps keep me motivated. When we are down we call each other and pick each other up. We celebrate each other’s wins, but more importantly we support each other through rejection. I think it is important to find an inventor buddy in the industry or you can feel like you’re alone on an island.
What was your favorite project to date?
I don’t have a favorite, but I am super excited about my recent launches: Sticker Stackers and Bead Stackers! Sticker Stackers allows you to build with stickers! Stack stickers to create play food and then play restaurant. Kids spend hours building and then playing restaurant! Bead Stackers is a bead stacking system where you stack beads to create adorable 3D charms. The final product is super unique and fun to wear!
What advice do you have for people starting in the industry?
Listen, read and network. Listen to podcasts. Read product reviews! Find an item similar to what you want to create and read reviews. You will learn a ton. Read all the newsletters. I learned so much from the Bloom Report and the CHITAG/POP white paper archives.
Attend events & network. Ask for advice from those who have been doing this longer. If someone is willing to meet with you for 15-20 minutes, do it! Take notes and keep track of their advice. It is invaluable. I refer back to notes from meetings with experienced inventors and inventor relations people all the time! I’m so grateful to all of them for taking the time to provide excellent advice.
This industry is tough, but it’s addicting, fun and wonderful, too. I’m still learning a ton, but please don’t hesitate to reach out (LinkedIn is best) and I’ll be happy to share my experiences and knowledge thus far.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Giving away my products as birthday gifts is so fun, but when I hear my kids proudly tell their friends that the product was their mom’s idea…my heart explodes. Reading reviews on my items is also incredibly rewarding! I’ve learned so much from reading product reviews, so to now read my own brings it all full circle.
When I took a break from my marketing career to be home with my kids, I had a lot of concerns around what my career would look like to my kids. How would I inspire them to pursue amazing careers? I went through a lot of vulnerable times when I made this choice. That said, it was the best thing I ever did, because taking that break allowed me to find this industry and the inventing opportunity.
That said, I’m so grateful to Greg Preslicka for helping my find the inventing opportunity. I met Greg early in my career via my job at Baker Design - a packaging design firm. We were connected on LinkedIn and I saw him post a game that he launched with Fisher-Price. I reached out to learn more about what he was up to and he was so wonderful in helping me learn about the inventor world.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
My best ideas come from kids. Kids are the best. A key part of my development process is making an effort to find ways to engage with and play with kids. Every time I do, I walk away with a ton of ideas. I’ve always loved to be around kids. My mom always says I missed my calling as either a child psychologist or teacher. The best job I ever had was as a camp counselor. If I could be a professional camp counselor, I would.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
I collected unicorns. I loved Play-Doh, my hair salon and fun factory kits were my favorites. I also enjoyed Legos, but I never had a kit and never used instructions to build anything. We just had a large container filled with legos. The open-ended side of Legos is wonderful, too.
What do you read every day, and why?
I have a few wonderful friends that I swap books with regularly. If we like something we pass it on and it’s a wonderful way to always have something to read.
I also really enjoy toy industry books. Right now I’m reading “A Game Maker’s Life”. It is fascinating to find out how people find the inventing side of the toy industry. I love hearing the BTS stories of how products came to life, so I am really enjoying the book. Jeffrey Breslow’s journey occurs at such an amazing time in the industry and learning how the OG inventor shop functioned is absolutely fascinating.
I also really enjoy Dan Klitsner’s social media. I absolutely love that he shares product background stories, pitch experiences, failures, successes and more. I look forward to his posts.
Do you have any kiddos?
I have two girls, 6 and 8. They’re my everything and I have a wonderful husband, too.
Do you have any pets?
We have a sweet, crazy almost 2-year-old cocker spaniel, Winnie. She keeps us on our toes.
What do you play with your kids?
A little bit of everything! We love chalk. We love making slime and doing crafts together. Right now, the games that we all love to play are Ticket to Ride and Sequence.
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