The ASTRA community is made up of a vibrant group of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliate members who all have unique stories of how they got into the toy industry. We believe these stories are worth sharing! To recognize our community, the ASTRA Blog features a regular ASTRA Member Spotlight series. 

EllenStebbins.jpgHow did you get into the toy industry?
My partner, Marcie Jacobs, and I created our company because we wanted to provide products that create experiences where people connect and get to know one another better, stretch their imaginations and have loads of fun. Creativity fuels the ability to problem solve, innovate, and explore new and unfamiliar areas. It also elicits teamwork and positive interpersonal communication skills.

I became an ASTRA member because it was so highly recommended by Christine Osborne – ASTRA 2013 Excellence Award Recipient. She is very involved in your organization and said that it’s THE group to be a part of!

What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
Working with kids! We are launching our first children’s game, Story Craze, on Kickstarter on October 25. We decided to bring a child’s perspective into creating a game for children. So, we gathered a bunch of kids, had lots of fun and created the game content and rules during multiple focus groups with more than 30 kids!

Once the basic game was created, we play tested it and tweaked it until our test groups were all smiles. You can check out what they created here:

What has been your proudest moment as a member of the specialty toy industry?
We set out to create a fun kids game, but it has become so much more! Through our nine months of playtesting, we realized that not only is this game super fun, but it also boosts learning and propels a child’s confidence, self-esteem, communication, leadership and teamwork skills.

What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
So far, learning Kickstarter! We are excited about learning more about the specialty toy industry and attending trade shows in 2017.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
That I worked as a Certified Financial Planner at Merrill Lynch in Boston for 10 years. I am also a Certified Life Coach and am passionate about personal growth.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ellen!

Interested in being featured in a future Member Spotlight post? Apply at the volunteer opportunities featured on ASTRA Connect.