After spending 15 years in corporate marketing and advertising, chasing what I thought was the American dream, I took a time out. As I began to figure out what was truly important in my life, I found myself in Europe walking the halls of one of the world's largest toy fairs. It was there I began to notice the significant void in today's retail environment, and specifically the children's market/toy industry, and the tremendous potential of a select group of individuals.
Every year, the toy fair is littered with mass-produced, factory-made plastic - - stuff. Stuff you buy for your children because they "just have to have it" - only to be found a month later abandoned in the toy box, under the bed, or in the garage. As I walked the halls, it became increasingly clear I glossed over all of that "stuff" - and instead found myself drawn to the small - the special and unique, and in most cases, handmade by individuals and/or small workshops. Upon further investigation, I learned the special and unique - and the makers behind it all - had wonderful stories to tell. Stories of passion, innovation, creativity, hard work, sacrifice. Stories that add value - something you won't find in today's fast-paced, technologically driven, plastic world.
That was it, I found the story I wanted to tell. Their story. These extraordinary toymakers. I want to celebrate the passion and profiles of some of the world's most talented artisans, as they are representative of a rapidly disappearing art form.