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BC2 2019 speaker profile: Marissa Louie & Why Diversity Matters in Storytelling

“It wasn’t necessarily glamorous or something that I wanted to brag about to my friends. But I thought, this is me, this is what I care about,” said Marissa Louie (‘05 Interdisciplinary Studies — Business, Economics, & IEOR) about her plan to drop everything to become a stuffed animal entrepreneur.

Marissa thought the toy industry was ready for something new. From her perspective, it hasn’t changed much in the past 100+ years, especially in the area of stuffed toys. For example, the design for the teddy bear has essentially stayed the same since 1902. So, Marissa thought, what if she could design them better? What if she could give people a good reason to want more of them?

Young student with collection of stuffed animals standing with the Campanile in the background

Marissa Louie (‘05 Interdisciplinary Studies — Business, Economics, & IEOR) is shaking up the toy industry by embracing diversity as the core element of her brand.

One area where Marissa thought toys could improve was in the area of storytelling. She recalled back to when she was a little girl playing with her own stuffed animals, and how the themes of many of her stories included friendship, cooperation, empathy, justice, and equality. Marissa thought by including these themes in the storytelling of her new toys, that she could help kids embrace those who are different, and open their minds to the possibilities of who they could become in the future.

Additionally, Marissa thought the message of diversity was really important for the toy industry specifically. In an industry where the majority of end consumers are women — our moms, sisters, aunts, and grandmas — the top 36 toy companies all have CEOs that are men.

“So, that’s a problem,” said Marissa. “At the fundamental root of that is why so many girls are asking for different kinds of toys now that appeal to them. They are saying ‘Hey, I want to be an engineer too; I want to be a designer too; I want to be CEO; I want to be president.’ And so until we change [this industry] little girls can’t see themselves in these roles. They can’t tell those stories to themselves of what to do.”

Marissa will be a keynote speaker at BC2 2019, discussing why diversity matters in storytelling. Her stuffed toys, the Animoodles have won top toy industry awards including Amazon’s Best Selling Stuffed Animals and Toys in December 2018, Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Toys of 2018, Women In Toys Rising Star 2019, and Mojo Nation’s 100 Most Influential Figures in Toy and Game Design.

This excerpt was taken from the original post here.

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