ASTRA Member Spotlight: Rudy Valenta, People Toy Company

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. 

How did you get into the toy industry?
I was raised in the toy industry. My father had a toy company growing up. I did product testing for him from when I was wee-little one and eventually graduated to the warehouse labeling orders in junior high. After college, I was in charge of product design and operations. Fast forward 10 years later, I now work with our long-time business partner, People, to bring the best educational and innovative toys to homes around the world.


What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
Creating the perfect product for retailers. Making moms, dads, grandparents, and friends the superheroes when they give the perfect gift to the kids in their lives. Being able to put the biggest smile on a child’s face with a toy you helped create. Not many professions can say that their job is to instigate fun.

What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
Navigating the ever-changing landscape of commerce, finding where we fit in and how we can help everyone else in the industry.

What inspired you to become a Certified Play Expert?play_expert I’ve always known the importance of play. I wanted to learn all the facts and details so that I can better educate everyone around me on the importance of play and incorporate them into better toys.


What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Master Retailer designation?

The United Nations declares that every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

That member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity. Play Matters!

What would you say to someone who is considering become a Certified Master Retailer?
Do it! You won’t regret it.

How have you used your Certified Play Expert designation to influence the power of play in your community?
When working with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on their Block Lab and new SPARK space, my Certified Play Expert designation had a huge impact on the design of the activities we created for the families visiting. The activities were not only created for the development of the child but to help educate parents on the importance of play. Teaching parents the benefits their child receives from play was one our main goals with SPARK and the Block Lab. We hope that through initiatives such as this, PLAY will not only be considered as a fun activity but will be recognized as an important daily occurrence for healthy development in all children.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Rudy!

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

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