Okay, time to Bundle! Name 4 things that the Collier Sisters knew about Azhelle when we met her a few years ago. 1.) We wanted to be friends with her. 2.) She is a lot of fun. 3.) We wanted to collaborate with her on something. 4.) We have a lot to learn from her.
Azhelle is an inspiration and we were lucky to be students in her Toy Creators Academy and sit down with her for this interview - it was such a fun way to start Women's History Month by celebrating one of our favorite women.
Collier Sisters: Can you tell our readers a little bit about what a toy coach does and why you decided to become one?
Azhelle: Well, honestly there’s never been anyone or anything quite like The Toy Coach and that’s why I created it. The Toy Coach is an online education resource for aspiring toy and game creators out there. What I offer is an educational and inspiration to help demystify the toy industry for aspiring toy creators. My goal is to rejuvenate the toy industry with fresh ideas that are led by parents, teachers, and dreamers. I focus on teaching these future toy creators how to make their ideas toyetic and marketable, so they fit into the industry, while breaking the mold at the same time. My course, Toy Creators Academy shows my students how to do just that. The course streamlines the creative toy development process and connects my students with the best in the industry to help them make their toy ideas real.
Collier Sisters: What is your favorite part about the Toy Creators Academy and how did you develop it?
Azhelle: I love the community aspect of Toy Creators Academy…but I’m sure my students will say they love the contacts. Haha! With every launch of the program that community gets bigger and bigger, and I absolutely love watching my students connect, share stories, help each other and achieve their toy dreams.
I developed the program by looking back on my 10 years of toy experience in which I developed over 500 toy products and asked myself, how did I do all that? I broke down my process, and turned it into a step by step course and framework that my students could easily follow.
Collier Sisters: What was your favorite toy when you were growing up?
Azhelle: If you’ve ever come to one of my Launch Party events for Toy Creators Academy you already know my favorite toy growing up was Polly Pockets! I used to set them up like a little village, every single Saturday morning on the dining table in my kitchen. Honestly, I remember as a kid realizing that I spent more time setting them up than playing with them. Now that I think of it, it looks like my love for building communities has been within me since childhood!
Collier Sisters: What has been your biggest challenge in the industry?
Azhelle: My biggest challenge in the industry was climbing the corporate ladder. No one wanted to give me a chance. Although I made it to Vice President of a toy company by 30, it took a lot of sacrifice to get there. Before I became VP, I had to build my resume and experience. So early in my career I voluntarily took on more responsibility at every single job I ever held. To be honest, I loved the work, so at first it felt great taking on supplemental responsibilities even if there was no pay or titled attached to them. But eventually it created a really unhealthy association with the value of the work I put in at every job. I had to train myself to believe I was worth more and could do more, even if I heard no more times than yes at job interviews. It was really hard and really disheartening at times. But the day that senior level executives at a company recognized my talent and worth, was a very good day.
Collier Sisters: What inspires you?
Azhelle: This might sound silly, but nature and adrenaline. Whenever I’m feeling stuck or in a rut, I try to get out and do things in nature. If I can’t get out to nature, I turn myself upside down and do a supported headstand. The adrenaline does wonders for my mood. Once the adrenaline is pumping or I’m surrounded by nature my mind is clear to accept new ideas again. That’s the best time for me to turn on my favorite podcasts or look through my market research images to spark new ideas. Without adrenaline or nature, it all falls flat.
Bundle with Azhelle
1. Child-like wonder
2. Entrepreneurial Spirit
4. Lifelong Student
I was holding a podcast interview once and couldn’t hear the guest. They kept saying they could hear me, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. We spent 15 minutes trying to figure it out, they were emailing me that they could hear me, we even quit the Zoom and jumped back in. Eventually I realized my headphones weren’t all the way plugged into the jack!
I want you to write out 3 toy goals that you hope to accomplish next year. 1 goal that focuses on your product, one that focuses on your packaging, and one that focuses on your online presence. Write those goals on a post it and put them up on your wall, in clear view so you can see them every single day. Then, I want you to get on the email list for Toy Creators Academy, because this is affordable course is going to show you HOW to get there. You can read more about TCA and sign up by visiting Toy Creators Academy.
We are so happy that Azhelle is part of the community that we have made through Bundle and had a blast and and learned so much in her Toy Creators Academy as well as a Bundle and Toy Coach Virtual Game Night we had this year. (Yes, you know your gals love zooming... :)) Shop here if you want to get in on our Virtual Games and make sure to check out all of the fun offerings from the one and only Toy Coach!