My Mom is a Toy Maker

By Mary Kay Russell, Inventor of Kubit2me, “The Ultimate Toss-It-To-Me” Game!
President, Kubit2me, Inc., Kubit2me

Great ideas come to us at the most random times, don’t they?

About six years ago, a friend of mine and I decided to put together a fun little book club for our 10-year-old kids’ class of fourth graders.  We picked out some great books that the kids would love, came up with cool games and activities that would excite and delight, and ran it all with parent volunteers at the school.  Sounds pretty innocent, right?  Yep, that’s what I thought until one of the games I came up with – a game I called Kubit2me – turned into my obsession.

For the next three years, my simple life was turned upside down.  My days were still filled with what I always did as a stay-at-home mom to four boys – tending to my family’s needs, cooking, cleaning, laundry, car-pooling and the occasional mani/pedi.  But when the last child was tucked in for the night, I kissed my husband good-night, put on my comfy pj’s and my game-inventor hat and went to work.

Being new to the toy industry and out of the working world for the last 15 years, I had a lot to learn.  Night after night I was a keyboard tapping, mouse shuffling research fanatic, learning everything I could about trends in the toy industry, intellectual property, packaging design, overseas manufacturing, warehousing and fulfillment, sales and distribution channels, marketing and advertising – making sure I covered every base before deciding to self-produce and bring my game to market.  Armed & dangerous and ready to go, this game inventor was about to become a game manufacturer.  OMG!

My work routine was the same almost every night – I would work from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM, sleep for two hours, wake up to get the kids off to school, then start my day again.  Mid-day catnaps were my new best friends.  Good thing – because sadly, I no longer had time for my best friends.  BFF get-togethers at Starbucks and Panera were now replaced with meeting graphic designers, outsourcing agents, attorneys, and sales reps.  Weekend getaways with friends were replaced with visits to toy stores and trips to trade shows.  Thankfully, my friends were very understanding, incredibly supportive and always there for me when I needed them.

Striking a balance between my work life and family life was a bit of a struggle.  At first, my kids were little more than slightly amused by my new “hobby.”  Sometimes they’d pass me by while I was on the computer (as usual) and say, “Look at you mom, like you have a real job … how cute!”  I really think they thought I was going through some kind of mid-life crisis.  I can remember countless times trying to tell them that this was for real, and that one day people would actually BUY my game.  They’d just smile and nod politely (secretly snickering amongst themselves, lest they hurt my feelings by cracking up in front of me at the absurdity of it all) and then walk away, slightly confused by what their mother was becoming, somewhat annoyed by the fact that I was no longer there for them 24/7.  I knew they would learn to accept it.  I knew this would be good for them too.

So here I am today, producing and selling three award-winning Kubit2me self-expression games in toy stores nationwide and through numerous online retailers … a product line that I brought to market by myself.

The best part?  Besides the gratification I get when I hear from people who have played my games and love them – the absolute best part has been the transformation in my boys.  Their nonchalance has been replaced by curiosity.  They see with their own eyes what can happen with hard work and dedication.  They’ve come to understand what it means to have the spirit, passion, patience, and perseverance of an entrepreneur.  They have become resourceful, self-reliant young men.  And best of all, their indifference has been replaced with pride, especially when their friends say, “Dude, your MOM made that game???”

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