Interview with Vivian Greene on Learning to Dance in the Rain and More

February 14, 2017

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

My chubby little Kisses characters began as a line of greeting cards which evolved into a syndicated comic strip and practically everything you'd see Mickey Mouse or Snoopy adorn. 

 

The cards were even in a chain of 55 salons. I was getting my nails polished (I don't wear the fake ones) and the manicurist was trying her best to hold back tears. She did not speak English, but I understood enough Spanish to learn her 4 year old son was in the hospital. They had been in an accident that day. She wanted to know how to take the bus. I said I'd drive her. Her boss said if she left, not to come back. She had appointments scheduled to the evening, and she wasn't going to have the ladies who do expensive acrylic just do Maria's job. Simple manicures. I told Maria I needed help in the ladies’ room, and stole her. She was from Bolivia, did not speak a word of English. We picked up her son and they moved in with me. She surprised me at Christmas with the handmade dolls you see - then embroidered my Kisses characters on hats and scarfs, etc. So that's how it started. When I exhibited a couple of them in my booth at the Book Expo, licensing offers soon followed.

 

What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?

Let's take TROLLS. I absolutely Love Love Love the movie. I wish I could help design the merchandise even though they are not my own creation, because the theme very much is just what the theme of Kisses and the trademark of all of my work says "All that is real is seen with the heart."®  The toys don't say anything... and there is so much potential there.

 

What's worrisome is the abuse and child labor still reported today. There have been many investigations, but no results in ending the problem.

 

What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?

Embody elements of the stories and quotes of mine that are so popular.

 

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

            ©Vivian Greene

 

Giving is the highest expression of our power.

 

Life is for giving so forgiveness is the key.

 

Hug your dentist. He has fillings too.

 

 

What was your favorite toy or game as a child?

My crayons were and still are my best friend. I had only one doll named Maggie. She had one arm. Maggie was special and needed me and I would teach her what she still could do with one arm.

 

What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?

I'd only been working at an ad agency for three weeks when an executive grabbed my lovely twenty-one year old tush. I threw my coffee at him. I was fired. It was one of the best lessons of my life. I received my paycheck, a whopping severance pay, and my work was so good that the agency let me continue writing the commercials on a freelance basis. My $330 paycheck turned into $2390.00 - a lot of money back then.  I never had a "job" again. 

 

What inspires you?

Nature, creativity, music, films, dance, flying, puppies

 

Where were you born?

Seattle

 

Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?

Mostly I was influenced by THE SEATTLE RAIN FESTIVAL

 

As you can see by my IP, it's been a great influence:

 

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

            ©Vivian Greene

 

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I canceled some contracts because products were being made by child slavery, or companies I don't respect were trying to horn in on my copyright. For some 20 years it knocked my Kisses creations out of the marketplace and not only did the products the Bad Guys made continue to be produced, they made things that didn't have the value that my messages would have offered. I learned the best way is to help those companies and new ones, for example, when we can turn an infringement into a legitimate license. When I can help the store to replace a vendor and be even more profitable. I'm good at this because I manufactured cards and gifts. I know how much the store needs to make per square foot - even the lighting, materials, cost of goods, etc. I also have worked with advocacy groups - who may not understand that - but have scores of volunteers and people working for a better world.

 

What do you read every day, and why?

I am taking a Harvard class on Justice online. I love it! One of my trademarks is LEGAL LEMONADE®

I usually read some posts on Linkedin, see what's new in crowdfunding, follow those campaigns I've helped fund or share.

 

How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?

My problem would be turning the creativity off - I never find myself stalled.

 

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

An old episode of Two And A Half Men was on TV. Charlie said this to his brother - which is from MY OWN greeting card (should I be writing TV?)

 

"I don't mind if you chase other girls. Dogs chase cars and they can't drive."

 

Are you named after anyone?

Vivian was the Lady of the Lakes in the legend of King Arthur, who entwines a world of myth, magic, romance, fortune and spirituality. My favorite quote:

 ''LOVE IS THE ONLY PRAYER I KNOW."

 

Do you have any kiddos?

Yes! I even have some to spare for you! I first began in the early '80's with Foster Parent Plan which had about 200,000 children in the program. Then it was $22 month to support a child. Today it's called Plan Internation and has about 55 MILLION children. Isn't that incredible? And like Woody Allen said in my interview - they are the best kids. "They never even ask to borrow the car keys."

 

Do you have any pets?

I had a cat, 32 ducks, and some frogs who never evolved into princes.  I live on a lake, and I think my Homeowners Association killed them...because they all disappeared. Looking further into that.....

 

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

My father was Jewish and my mother Italian. I had a PhD in Guilt by the time I was 5. Enough said.

 

Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?

Not yet. But I have a piano.  Someday it will just happen. Like my art. And my dancing. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2agvnx0fKw

 

What’s your favorite cereal?

I cheer for Cheerios © I should endorse them. They are shaped like little copyright symbols.

 

Summer of Winter?

I am a Tropical flower. I live in Miami and Hawaii. I bought a picture of snow, 5 x 5 inches, and put it in my kitchen when I was 23. I intended for it to be the last snow I would see in my life. Of course, going to Nuremberg and NY Toy Fairs ended that wish. 

 

Hugs or Kisses?

KISSES is my trademark. I was at party in Maui and everyone kept hugging me. Complete strangers. Huggy huggy. I was invited by a doctor and asked him if most of these people were gay.

"Oh no!" he said. "Everyone on Maui is Bi."

 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Dancing With The Stars - I'd love to be a guest or judge

 

Favorite movie of all time?

MY FAIR LADY but I may add TROLLS

 

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

Japan (physically and romantically)

 

Do you have any special talents?

No :)

 

What are your hobbies?

Dance Dance Dance

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a catalyst for ending child slavery, and to pioneer crowdfunding or some new way to end the "day job" as we know it. I believe creativity can create the world we envision. That's why I am interested in toys and games: in children.

 

What’s next?

I want to host an an