Sue Warfield: There is no typical work day – especially now!
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
My passion for not just the toy industry, but for manufacturers that are new and or long term that work with the independent toys stores and sales reps and understand the value all segments bring to the importance of play in all our lives – all ages.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
In the late 70’s (I am dating myself) I took it upon myself when working in a chain of independently owned retail stores, to add toys and games for all ages into the mix. This led me to Toy Fair and then joining ASTRA.
What are you working on now?
As interim president of ASTRA I am working on re-examining and re-inventing how we can better serve our members within a new physical and financial landscape.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
I prefer to focus on the positive side as that can often overtake any side that might worry me. What excites me is how Covid has forced families and friends to find new ways to connect. As so many are getting tired of the digital only aspects we are facing, we all are interacting more with our families – Games, puzzles, toys that do not rely on a computer. People are discovering how much fun these can be!
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
I always mention that they should show their invention to some of the local toy store owners/managers to get their input. These are the people the interact every day with the consumer and know what the consumer likes and also know what might be already out there that is similar.
Do you have a typical work day and how does it play out for you?
There is no typical work day – especially now! New challenges and opportunities seem to pop up and sorting through to determine priorities and act on those is what my work days are right now. Tomorrow? Good question!
What’s your workspace setup like?
I have worked from my home office for years, so I have a very nice setup with nearly all the office equipment and work areas you would find in a commercial office space. I am fortunate that I don’t have any children at home and also live in the woods, so distractions and pulls on my time are minimal.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with our members and meeting new people.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
Cleaning restaurants at night when I had to make extra money. I learned that when push comes to shove, I can do whatever may be necessary to get through rough times.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
Our in-person shows going forward!
What and/or who inspires you?
Our members that have totally pivoted in these crazy times to make their business work in new ways. I am inspired and energized by their creativity, determination and passion for what they do.
What excites you?
How do you define creativity?
Allowing oneself to just try something that is new or different that either may seem crazy or is just something that
How do you define innovation?
Taking something that exists or something that is a brain spark and making it happen in a new and creative way.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Go outside and enjoy nature.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
HAHAH The Game of Life
Where were you born?
What was your life like growing up?
GREAT! We did most of our family activities outside. My mom quit college to raise me and my 2 brothers and for her to do so, my dad worked 3 jobs. But every winter, my dad made a skating rink in our backyard where we would skate nearly every night in the winter.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
A suburb of Minneapolis in a relatively conservative community. However, my parents were middle to liberal and were not hesitant to share their views. I also spent my senior year in high school as an exchange student in Northern Ireland (in the midst of the violence). With parents and siblings that were open and allowed me to spread my wings has made me unafraid of change and challenges
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
In fear and anger I walked out of a meeting that included upper management and left the building for the day. At that moment, I felt I would say something that would not sit well with anyone in the room. The next day I went to the head of the company to apologize and learned 1) There were things that many didn’t know and had assumed so the full details needed sharing so 2) Hold the anger and wait for an opportunity to calmly state the full facts
Do you have any kiddos?
Yes, 3 grown children. A daughter and 2 sons.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, a dog. Nellie is a mini labradoodle.
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
Yes, Piano and flute.
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
Their smile (or lack thereof).
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
What is your eye color?
I’m lucky that….
I have my health, a wonderful family and a great circle of friends.
Taking each day and making the best of it for me, my family and my work!