by Lisa Orman | 21 Jan 2024
Biographies and Interviews
Hi, Lisa! Happy 30th Anniversary to you and KidStuff! I think we've known one another for most of those 30 years, yet there are still questions to be asked. Do you have a mantra that you live by?
“Look for the things that bring you joy and focus on them.”
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I started the agency in Wisconsin. I needed a team to service our huge new client, retailer Zany Brainy, as it opened new stores westward from its east coast established locations. I had a new baby daughter in 1994 and had a son in 1997. I had a journalism degree and years of working at newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Crain’s Chicago business and had worked as a retail management consultant. Like all new parents, I felt overwhelmed by all the choices that needed to be made in raising my children—everything from which car seat to get and how to install it properly, to what kinds of music and books did I want in my home for them? My career and motherhood are what won us the Zany Brainy account, so I set out to hire other mom publicists from around the country as contractors where the retailer was opening stores. It worked! In 1994 KidStuff PR was officially founded, the name was trademarked, and our group of moms offered their kids as play testers and attendees at the grand openings and daily store events.
What are you working on now?
I have a wonderful group of small- to mid-sized clients right now. We are coming off a spectacularly successful holiday season and 2023 year, from a media and influencer perspective.
What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry?
I love the variety of backgrounds of people who come to the industry. I love that most have a genuine passion for creating, selling or marketing toys that are good for kids. I love that I have longtime friends in the industry, but also meet new people all the time. Every day it’s something different!
What’s your workspace setup like?
Since Zoom calls aren’t going away even though the pandemic has subsided and in-person meetings and trade shows have resumed, my computer is in the middle of my office, with a bookcase full of toys behind me. My webcam and microphone add quality to the Zoom calls. Several times a day I have either media calls to demo my clients’ toys, which I pull from the shelf behind me and hold up to the camera, or with clients. I have to know our clients’ playthings very well to be able to talk about them succinctly and play with them via video to call out features.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I know that I am helping start-ups and small businesses get a great start, avoid mistakes, take advantage of opportunities that will help them, and set them up for success. For mid-size companies that have tough competition, it’s fun and rewarding to help them maximize their promotion budget and compete more successfully.
How do you recharge or take a break?
My favorite things to unblock and recharge are to do a jigsaw puzzle, play piano Beethoven’s Moonlite Sonata is my current favorite) and/or walk my dogs. My husband and I recently got into Pilates 4-5 times a week which is amazing for recharging.
What words describe how you think or how your brain works?
Processing. Reflecting. Considering angles. Choosing words to explain to others.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Spirograph (see photo of my original one!) Also, I don’t mean to brag, but I am known as the Yahtzee Queen. I once got 4 in one game.
What do you read every day, and why?
NY Times, Washington Post, toy trades, and emails.
Do you have any kiddos?
Emily is going to be 30 (!) in November and Jack will be 27 in March. She lives in LA about 45 minutes from us and he lives in Denver. The photo of Jack includes his fiancée Ashley!
What do you play with your kids?
Since they’re grown, board games and jigsaw puzzles. I also consider cooking a form of play and they both enjoy cooking with me.
Do you have any pets?
Thor and Loki, both border collie rescues. He is 10, she is 8. They LOVE California and have made so many doggy and human friends.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Iceland, by myself, for a business trip!
Thank you for taking time to answer our questions thoughtfully and with a sense of play!
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