A few years after college, my boyfriend Tom and I told our parents that we were scrapping our Wall Street and advertising careers to design and make educational products for kids. Our parents thought we had lost our minds. “But you were our inspiration,” we told them (two of our parents were schoolteachers). The compliment did not inspire confidence, especially after they learned that we would be working out of Tom’s parents’ restaurant and helping their family business.
Still, we pooled every cent of our life savings, launched a huge casting call to find real kids to provide the voice for the doll, wrote the script, music and lyrics, hired our assistant, and spent a year creating it. While kids loved the Talking Doll, distributors wanted a whole line, not a single line-talking doll, so we decided to sell it ourselves at independent specialty stores.
While Tom and I were driving from one store to the other, pleading each of these store owners to hear the talking doll, we had another Aha! idea: Why not have the doll sing lullabies? So we had the Lullaby Doll sing and glow in the dark. In addition, we thought that it would be a cool thing to put the Lullaby Doll’s picture for a puzzle. That is how our Lullaby Doll image puzzle became the foundation for our company.
At the time, puzzles were so cookie-cutter in design. Therefore, we shook things up with fresh artwork, lots of unusual designs, and great pricing. They sold like wildfire. For more than ten years, we did nothing but puzzles. Then we applied the same fresh concept to toys, and today we produce more than 500 products. Oh yeah, and in the middle of all this, Tom and I got married and had three children.
The secret to our success? We make sure our staff is inspired and happy. Most of all we hired the perfect virtual assistant who helped us find the right voice for the doll, helped us with the script, helped us with our marketing strategies, checked and responded to important E-mails, attended our calls, and scheduled our meetings. Our cost-effective virtual assistants took care of all these while our focus was to get our product manufactured and out in the market.