Women from around the globe are gathering in Dallas on Tuesday to share the latest product ideas in toy, game, and play.
The eighth annual Women In Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) Empowerment Day, held just ahead of Dallas Market Center’s Toy Fair, will host more than 90 female entrepreneurs to pitch their innovations and ideas. They’ll then receive feedback, advice, and mentoring from Walmart buyers—WIT is held in collaboration with Walmart—and other industry leaders from Hasbro, Spin Master, Play Monster, Jazwares, Basic Fun!, Wicked Cool Toys, and Goliath Games.
Toy Fair Dallas runs Wednesday, Oct. 2, through Friday, Oct. 4.
“We connect women globally at all stages of their professional lives to leadership opportunities, education, and important relationships that lead to new business deals and career advancement,” WIT President Ashley Mady said in a statement about the event. “WIT embodies an incredible community of women who have tremendous energy, passion and motivation to excel in a fast paced and exciting industry.”
To-date, more than 500 women have presented their products at the annual event. Sometimes, those pitches can lead to real-life deals.
Last year, for example, Pennsylvania inventor Angie Cella struck a deal with Wicked Cool Toys for Blinger, a glam styling tool for girls.
At Empowerment Day, she was able to meet with Walmart buyers and several toy companies last year, including Michael Rinzler, co-president of Wicked Cool Toys.
“The minute I met Angie, it felt electric. She was so passionate about her product,” Rinzler said. “It’s fantastic that creators have this incredible opportunity to pitch their concepts and learn the in’s and out’s of the toy business.”
Cella sold her house to develop and launch Blinger. She tried for four years to get her product picked up—she got rejected by “Shark Tank,” lost as a finalist on another TV show, and raised Kickstarter money by “badgering her friends.”
But at the WIT event, she was able to sign a licensing deal with Wicked Cool Toys and in a few months, Blinger was being manufactured.
This year, Blinger landed on Walmart’s Top Rated by Kids Toy List, Amazon’s Top 100 Toy List, and is available at all major U.S. retailers (like Target, Walmart, and Amazon), in specialty stores, and distributed in 35 countries.
“I learned so much at WIT Empowerment Day,” Cella said, “it was like earning my MBA in one day.”
Previous Empowerment Day mentors and speakers have included Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban; Melissa Bernstein, co-founder of Melissa & Doug, a U.S. manufacturer of children’s educational toys; and Norma Rosenhain, founder and CEO of the global brand ideas and activation agency, Creata.
“I love Empowerment Day because it showcases what WIT is really good at, which takes people from across the industry, whether you’re a newbie with an idea, or an SVP of a major studio,” Michele Martell, president of Martell media house and a WIT board member, said at last year’s event. “It’s all about how can we help each other, make connections, and make things happen.”
For more information on how to attend this year’s Women In Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Empowerment Day, go here.
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