by Ahren Hoffman | 29 Jul 2021
The Bloom Report
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
In 2007 I fought to get my internship approved at the National Lekotek Center, a toy lending library and resource center for children with special needs in Chicago, IL. I had no idea that the toy industry would continue to be a common theme throughout my career after this internship! It was an amazing experience to provide therapeutic play for kids with special needs and “prescribe” toys for the entire family. Toys and play are a powerful influence on skill development for children of all abilities and I had a front row seat.
After my internship, I got my first job at a Lekotek affiliate site. I continued to provide therapeutic play and participated in the review of toys for the Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids through the National Lekotek Center. The rest is history!
What do you do in the industry?
Although the start of my career included influence from the toy industry, my degree was in Therapeutic Recreation and focused on leisure experiences for people of all ages with disabilities. I recently went back to my disability roots in January of 2021 and worked for a company doing accessibility audits focused on Title II regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I was doing important work, but something was missing and my search for a job back in the toy industry commenced.
I became a member of the Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld family on July 26, 2021 and am thrilled to be back in the toy industry as their Marketing Team Lead.
What’s your workspace setup like?
When I left my office on March 12, 2020, I set up shop the next day at my dining room table thinking that I would be back in a couple weeks. Wrong! Flash forward a few months, I rearranged the guest bedroom and invested in a stand-up desk and an office chair.
What words describe how you think or how your brain works?
One word: question. I have lots of questions! I am naturally curious and have a good memory. Questions help me solve problems, discover, innovate and organize information.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
I was a huge fan of Barbie! I got six Totally Long Hair Barbie’s for my birthday one year. I kept all of them!
Where were you born?
I was born in Flint, MI at Hurley Hospital. I went to Pierce Elementary School in Flint through the 5th grade before my parents moved us to Metro Detroit for my dad’s new job. A majority of my family still lives in Flint or the surrounding area today.
Are you named after anyone?
I have this answer down to a script! Good family friends have the last name “Ahrens”. Boy or girl, my parents were naming their first child “Ahren” in honor of them.
Do you have any pets?
My husband and I have one dog named Apollo. He is a 60-pound mix of boxer, bulldog and pit bull and all muscle. Apollo is 5.5 years old and still acts like a puppy!
What’s your favorite TV show?
I love (almost) all reality TV. I watch shows on Bravo, MTV, TLC, Lifetime, VH1, HGTV and more. Reality TV is highly entertaining and keeps me up to date on pop culture. You wanna talk reality TV, I am ready!
What’s your beverage of choice?
No joke, my Grandma used to put Diet Pepsi in my bottle when I was a kid. I am not a fan of Diet Pepsi anymore, but I love Diet Coke. I have a Diet Coke at 3pm on the dot every weekday as my afternoon pick-me-up! My ultimate Diet Coke is in a Styrofoam cup filled to the top with ice and a wide straw with a lid on top. If you didn’t already guess, I drink rum and diet as my alcoholic beverage of choice.
Ahren Hoffman, CTRS, CPE
Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld
Marketing Team Lead