What do you do in the industry?
I am the vice president of public relations for JAKKS Pacific, which means I am a “JAKK” of all trades. My day-to-day consists of managing all consumer facing messaging and corporate communications, social media, influencer outreach, events / experiential marketing, investor relations, as well as JAKKS Cares, the philanthropic arm of JAKKS Pacific. I’m really quite lucky -- I get paid to be a big kid -- it’s a dream job! Every day is different and I’m always learning something new.
What are you working on now?
August into September kicks off my “busy season,” which runs through March/April. Right now we are managing long lead gift guide and toy award submissions, back to school, Halloween, and of course holiday pitching, as well as strategically planning our social and influencer calendar and events. It quite busy, but I love it! We have a lot of new and exciting products coming out this fall for hot licensed properties including Frozen 2, Gigantosaurus, The Little Mermaid’s 30th Birthday, as well as launching a few JAKKS originals, such as the X-Power Dozer, TP Blasters: Sheet Storm, and the Chocolate Poop Maker. It’s really a lot of fun and I love working with creative people and bringing new products to market!
How do you recharge or take a break?
Swimming. I have always been a lover of the beach and the ocean, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I started training for my first Ironman, that I truly fell in love with open water swimming and the ocean. It is the perfect place to escape, meditate, float, soak in the sun, scream at or into the universe, and even talk to loved ones that have passed away. I am truly blessed that the Pacific Ocean is minutes away from my office and home. I try to swim in the ocean daily – year round – without a wetsuit. Yes it can be cold, but it is magical and the benefits are limitless. I know it sounds cliché, but it has transformed me (maybe into a mermaid?) J
What can we expect from you personally or professionally?
My love for philanthropy has also transferred into my goals as an endurance athlete. While training for my two Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) I raised nearly $20K for LLS, Veterans, Mental Health, and others. Last year I was the 487th person in the history of the Catalina Federation to successfully swim the Catalina Channel (22 miles) as a solo swimmer raising nearly $40K for Pancreatic Cancer, in honor of my mother, who succumbed to her battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009.
This year I am at it again – Swimming for Survival. On Saturday, August 31st, I will attempt to swim the 20 Bridges or formally (and more famously) known as the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a 28.5 mile circumnavigation of Manhattan Island. I hope to conquer this massive undertaking and in doing so, raise money for cancer awareness, research, and patient advocacy. I have a simple goal. For each mile I swim, in the filthy East River, Bronx River, and the Hudson Rivers — gross, I know, - I want to raise $100,000 to benefit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Hirshberg Foundation, and Stand Up to Cancer.
(Note from Mary Couzin, Editor: Sheena Stephens and I will be in NYC cheering Rachel on. If you can join us, terrific! Whether you can join us or not, any donation of any amount to Rachel's efforts is appreciated! I lost my mom and others to cancer. It is a horrible disease. This is the link!)