I’m just back from the New York Toy Fair! A whirlwind three days I spent meeting members of the media and making exciting new connections for Grace and her future.
Held each year at the Jacob K. Javits Center in midtown Manhattan, the New York Toy Fair is the year’s big international event for buyers, wholesalers, and media professionals in the children’s product and toy industry. The 2020 event filled the three levels of the convention center with over 7,000 products, more than 1,100 vendors, and about 26,000 attendees. Credentialed, global press professionals visit Toy Fair for the hottest trends, newest products, and industry news. Because of this, I was invited by Southern Communications to attend for the media access. Over the course of nearly three days, I met with 38 media members active in news, TV, radio, blog, and influencer spheres. We talked about Grace, the Center for Functional Learning, and being a pioneer in the music, health, and education space.
It was a privilege to be able to pack so much access into just a few days. Over the coming week or two, those connections will translate into coverage, interviews, and other promotional spotlights for the Center for Functional Learning and for Grace and her friends.
Four new partnerships
In between and after my press meetings, I walked the floor. The Toy Fair gives retailers and inventors the opportunity to introduce the newest toys, games, hobbies, and seasonal products for children. At this stage in Grace’s life, I’ve been planning a future that includes bundling her books with toys and other educational products. I perused the educational section of the fair with potential partnerships in mind. As a result, I connected with a woman whose company could make an eight-inch plush Grace doll with an embedded chip that could play an audiobook. I’m excited to think of the possibilities a bundled package might open up for Grace.
Sustainability was also top of mind for me at the Toy Fair, as it was for many others. Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z consumers increasingly value sustainability and eco-conscious choices when making purchases. In fact, according to a recent Nielsen survey, three-quarters of consumers in these generations are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings. And also may value brands more when they are committed to making sustainable choices. While at the fair, I met with a vendor who makes natural puzzles. We discussed the possibility of an all-wood, sustainably sourced product using Grace’s silhouette and containing educational components such as numbers or letters. This is another potential bundled concept.
Pinball Grace Project
Through a connection I made at the Toy Fair, I approached Project Pinball with an idea. Based in Florida, Project Pinball refurbishes pinball machines to place them in children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses for therapeutic play. They were ecstatic to hear from and excited to work with me. We’re now collaborating on the creation of three Grace-themed pinball machines, which will be finished by the 2020 Pinball Expo, taking place in October in Wheeling, IL.
My last Toy Fair connection was with Dr. Mary Mason, who is the creator and CEO of Little Medical School. Through a franchise model, Little Medical School offers experiential educational sessions to inspire health awareness and encourage children’s interest in professional medical roles (physicians, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and veterinarians). While the organization has about 60 franchises worldwide, there is not yet one in Chicago. After meeting with Dr. Mason, I’m now looking for investors to join me in ownership of the first Chicago franchise, around which I will fold Grace, her friends, and her message. I’m already imagining Grace’s books inside the goody bags kids go home with.
It’s amazing to me that three days could spark so many new connections, ideas, and possibilities. So many things could come out of this one event. There is a lot of work ahead—and a lot of excitement.
Have questions? An idea for partnership or interest in joining me in my Little Medical School franchise? Please reach out via our Contact Page.