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.
Today we feature Certified Play Expert graduate Andrea Adarve, MBA, CPE, of Minland Educational in Miami, FL.
How did you get in to the toy industry?
I have worked in sales ever since I graduated with my MBA. I didn’t start out in the toy industry but a very unrelated (more boring) industry – telecom. I love everything to do with sales including the interaction with people, financial analysis, target setting, etc., so I started looking for sales opportunities in a new industry when I got lucky enough to be given the opportunity to become the National Sales Manager of an amazing educational toy manufacturer who saw the drive in me even though I had no toy experience. Now I would not trade industries for the world!
What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
I love the people in this industry. They are very approachable and very fun, however you can tell everyone is a hard worker. Working non-business hours all the time, always making sure they are performing at their best, keeping their customers happy, all with the objective of making sure their business continues to grow and be successful. I love how some people in this industry have known each other for years and years however they do not treat newcomers such as myself as outsiders and are always willing to lend a helping hand.
What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
One of my biggest challenges has been learning the ins and outs of the industry on my own. The rest of the team I work with at Miniland is remote which sometimes is not as easy to communicate with as if they were sitting right next to me. However, when I started we already had some amazing reps with many years of experience in this industry, who have been available when I needed advice or suggestions.
What inspired you to become a Certified Play Expert?
Unlike other industries, there are not a lot courses you can take to learn more about toys, importance of play, and others. You can always take courses on toy safety and regulations, child development, etc. but not specific to toys and the industry. This is one of the reasons this certification caught my eye. Since I am also new to the industry, I welcome any opportunity in which I can learn and interact with others with more experience and knowledge. I definitely recommend this course to others, (and in person, if possible) as it put into concepts and words what you as a toy expert expect the importance of play should be. It is great for sales people like myself to help us sell toys better as well as product developers, store personnel and any other person in the industry to all have the same goal – disperse the message of the importance of play.
What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Play Expert designation?
The “a-ha” moment I remember most (although I had others) was actually understanding why the development of the child between the ages of 0 and 5 is so critical for his future development socially, professionally, and personally. Everything from the communication the child has with their parents, to the toys they play with and the environment they are surrounded with during those years and the impact of all those factors in their development.