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Toy Fair Events: Wonder Women of Toys

Annual Awards Dinner Celebrates Top Industry Players

New York – On Sunday, Feb. 11, members of Women in Toys joined with guests for the third annual Wonder Women of Toys Awards Dinner at Rosie O’Grady’s Manhattan Club. Seven of 36 nominees received awards for their significant contributions to, and success in, the toy industry.

Sharon Di Minico, founder and CEO of the 120-store Learning Express franchise, was honored with the Retailer Award. She sold her first franchise in 1990 and plans to open 23 more stores this year.

“What I cherish most about this business is really the relationships I’ve formed” with store owners and others in the industry, she said.

Individuals just starting out in the toy business should do two things, she advised: Keep their ego in check, and appreciate the perspective of others.

“Together,” she said, “everyone achieves miracles.”

Denise Gary Robinson, president of Dolls Like Me, was one of three Women to Watch! winners. She shared her fervor for meeting a growing need for multicultural toy products in the United States.

“In 10 years,” she said, “43 percent of the children in America will be children of color.” Manufacturers need to recognize this and begin designing toys for them, she added.

According to Robinson, her business has grown 20 fold or more in just 15 months. “I feel passionate about how important it is for children of color to have dolls like them,” she said.

Other winners included Lisa-Marie Arneson, owner of Bright Spots (Women to Watch! Award) Kathleen McHugh, executive director of ASTRA (Women to Watch! Award), Gina Beebe, vice president of design and development for American Girl (Inventor/Designer Award), Patty Jackson, executive vice president of product development for Zizzle (Manufacturer Award), and Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D./Dr. Toy, founder and CEO of Dr. Toy’s Guide and the Institute for Childhood Resources (Entrepreneur Award).

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Julie L. JonesWriter's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author

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