Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I used to give my kids paper napkins to keep them occupied in restaurants. It dawned on me, after seeing the pile of ripped up napkins one day, that I could make something more permanent. With the help of a friend who sewed, I made my first piece of Baby Paper!
While at an Ad Specialty tradeshow, I met a manufacturer who was willing to do a small run of Baby Paper for just a $500 investment. I put the idea in the back of my mind, and never told anyone, including my husband, Max. One day, out of the blue, he handed me $500 as a holiday gift. He had never done that before (and not since), so it felt meant to be! I bought myself the gift of a Baby Paper business.
(Max and Sari at a Cubs game.)
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
With online selling and marketing, there are more knock-offs than ever before. One of the more disturbing trends are the Etsy sellers copying ideas and selling to the consumer. They do not have to adhere to the same safety guidelines that manufacturers do.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Get to market as quickly as possible. Hiring sales reps allows you to cover more territory effectively and they are great at building relationships with retailers.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Car racing sets!
What does your typical day look like?
Wake at the crack of dawn and work on/off til after 10:00 pm.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in the billing department for On-TV, which was the original Cable tv company, in 1981. All we did was answer calls about why service was suspended. The pay was awful and the hours were horrible. There was a recession going on so I had to take what I could!
**What inspires you?
The memory of my father and his business model. He believed in supporting local restaurants and small grocers and I have continued that. We do not sell direct to the consumer, nor do we pursue big box retailers. We allow our retailers to sell on sites such as Amazon, but we won’t ship direct to an Amazon warehouse.
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
There was a wide age gap between my siblings and me, but I was never babied. My parents were older, and my dad became sick when I was in junior high. My father taught me to be independent and to work hard. Because of those lessons, I was prepared to stand on my own when he died while I was still in college. My mom was known for starting conversations with anyone and everyone, often inviting strangers to dinner at our house. My father was respected because gave respect to everyone, no matter their position. Everyone who worked for him was treated like family.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Salesforce. The possibilities with the program are endless. I am fortunate that my son is a Salesforce administrator so he set up a great program. It helps keep all pertinent information regarding every store at my fingertips as it is cloud based.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
I take a walk to clear my head. Sometimes I walk around stores that have interesting items – anywhere from a craft store to a local boutique to a hardware store.
Are you named after anyone?
My maternal grandmother
Do you have any kiddos?
I have two amazing kids – ten years apart. My son, Myles, Is 31 and my daughter, Haley, is 21. Here we are at a Cubs game...