Posted: 2010-01-10 19:43:59 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
I wasn't a big doll person as a kid. In fact, if the play date was going to be about dolls--it wasn't for me. The lure of the sandbox, my bike, my brothers' elaborate Hot Wheels set ups were way too intriguing to compete with my collection of dolls. As an adult, I've gotten to revisit doll land. My mother watches with a certain amount of amusement "now, you're interested?"
I'm particularly taken by dolls that send positive messages to girls. After all, dolls are about pretending--so why not provide props that encourge girls to dream about what they can be...yes, yes, they can play with their hair, but it's those other messages that appeal to me. Which is why we were initially interested with the new line of Go! Go! Sports Girls from Dream Big Toy Company. These fabric dolls celebrate girls in sports and much to the credit of the founder, they are girl dolls. There is no pushing the envelope here with adult agendas (clothes or make-up)...these are girl dolls intended for girls. Our testers really took to them! Read our interview with founder, Jodi Norgaard.
What was your favorite toy/game to play when you were little? I loved my Drowsy Doll and Raggedy Ann Doll. My favorite board games were Sorry and Checkers, but overall my favorite thing to do was to play outside.
What inspired you to enter the toy business? Two experiences led to my inspiration. For four years I coached “Girls on the Run”, in which my daughter participated. It is an amazing program which teaches girls confidence through running. I saw the program change the lives of not only the young girls, but mine too. The girls learned how to work as a team, encourage one another, and do their best. At the end of each 12 week program, all the girls and coaches run a 5K. At the finish line of one 5K, a young girl from my program who had struggled with running said, “Thank you, Coach Jodi, now I know I can do anything!” This was an amazing and powerful moment for me.
The second experience wasn’t as uplifting. When my daughter was 9 years old I went out to purchase a doll for her. Many of the dolls I saw sent an inappropriate message: grow up fast, wear short skirts and put on makeup. This frustrated me and made me angry. So I decided to do something about it by creating my own doll which would encourage young girls to embrace and enjoy their true age. My hope is that the Go! Go! Sports Girls help deliver the right message.
I love the name of your company. It sends such a positive message out with
each doll. What's the story behind the name?
One of my favorite sayings is “dream big and go for it.” It sends a simple but very powerful message: set your goals, achieve your goals. Kids need to know that they can do whatever they set their minds to! I tell this to my kids and the kids I coach. Kids respond to encouragement and positive feedback. It gives them the confidence they need to strive and improve, whether it be in sports or other aspects of life. That’s the “Dream Big” message.
Your dolls encourage girls to explore their athletic side. Did you play a
lot of sports as a girl? Did you have a favorite?
I did play a lot of sports as a girl. But when I was growing up there weren’t as many organized sports for young girls as there are now. My sister, friends and I made up a lot of our own activities. We loved to play outside. Growing up in the Midwest, we experienced all the seasons to the extreme! During the warmer months we rode bikes, jumped rope, played tennis and swam (I was the neighborhood pogo stick champion!). During the colder months we skied, went sledding and ice skated. My favorite organized sports were track and tennis, sports I continue to enjoy.
When I was a kid my parents encouraged me to play outside and participate in sports. That helped me realize the positive benefits of exercise growing up and as an adult. I am so thankful for this. If we encourage kids to be active and healthy now, then there is a good chance they will continue to be active and healthy as adults. Sports and physical activity play an important part of my family life. My husband, three kids and I love to hike, bike, ski, golf and swim together. Exercising alone is my meditation. It makes me a better person and mom!
When you dream big, what do you see for the future of your new company?
I want to spread this positive message and for every child to know they can “dream big and go for it”! The Go! Go! Sports Girl dolls will deliver it to young girls. In the short term I would like to add more ethnically diverse dolls and a wider array of sports to promote inclusivity. In the long term, I would like to add more accessories and clothing for the dolls, and a line of Go! Go! Sports Boys. I’m dreaming big!
I want my company to help others. To that end, I am thrilled to have partnered with Girls Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Dream Big Toy Company donates 5% of its profits from the sale of Go! Go! Sports Girl dolls to support Girls Inc.’s program services for girls. Together we hope to encourage and inspire girls to develop and live a healthy lifestyle.
What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER, no contest.
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