Jenny Faw is an artist, product designer and consultant who was born in Kansas and now resides in Rhode Island. Many of the items Jenny designs are playthings and she is heavily inspired by colors, nature, flowers, sunshine and the sky.
For more than two decades Jenny has created top-selling items for the infant and children’s market, especially in the “home furnishing” categories. Her creations have been sold at household-name stores such as Target, Babies ”R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond among others.
Jenny recently co-founded a company called Dibzy that is focused on bringing some of the most innovative toys to the market.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get inspired to design toys?
Jenny Faw (JF): I have been designing and producing infant and kid’s product my entire career. I have worked with major manufacturers and retailers to develop top selling nursery decor, fashion, gift, and all other infant product categories so toy is a natural expansion to my experience. When my co-founders and I formed “Dibzy” we decided to focus areas of our expertise- all things mom, baby, and kid. We have had the greatest success to date selling toy ideas. Toy design is an exciting new category for me. My partner Shelly Delice is my biggest inspiration. She has been a successful toy and gift inventor for 20 plus years. We have collaborated on many projects together and I have learned a lot about the toy industry through her. She is exceptionally talented at creating characters and styling entire lines of product- her own and major licensed brands. That said, Dibzy does not limit our product categories to just toys, we include gear, fashion, feeding, soft developmental play, and home decor.
MM: What prompted you to start Dibzy and why was that name chosen?
JF: A few years ago, my partners and I attended the All Baby and Kids Show in Las Vegas. With our collective experience in the infant/ kid product manufacturing world; we attended the show thinking we would come up with the next big product idea. What we discovered was that there were lots of great ideas but a limited number of channels to distribute products. Instead of fighting the battle to get a product placed at retail following the traditional channels, we decided to open up a new channel for bringing a product to market. We determined that there needed to be a platform that functions as the “filter” between inventors and manufacturers. Most inventors need help getting their product ideas market ready and in front of the right manufacturer or retailer. Most manufacturers and retailers do not have the time or capacity to vet individual inventors. On the flipside, many manufacturers are so tied up maintaining the shelf space they have at retail, that they do not have time or funds for new product development. Dibzy has become a great resource for this, thus Dibzy has become a great asset to both inventors and manufacturers. We have to credit my boyfriend, Peter McDonald with the name. He is and architect, also an English major and a kid at heart. He comes in handy for copy editing and name storming products. Everyone knows what calling “dibs” on something means, and the phrase takes us right back to childhood. We tried several combinations and spellings, surprisingly enough “Dibzy” was available. We love the nostalgia of the word, and the friendly fun sound of “Dibzy.” It’s a happy word and makes a great logo that people remember.
MM: Does Dibzy accept ideas from outside inventors? If so, what is the process like?
JF: Yes, we do. We have recently automated our submission portal. Our co-founder Parminder Sanai and his team in Bangalore India handle all of our IT. They have recently completed our fully automated “Idea Submission Portal” on our website. This is a great tool that tracks concept submission through production, including safe storage of files, communication, touch points along the way and every aspect of product development. An inventor submits the idea whatever stage of development it is in, Dibzy reviews inventions within two weeks of submission, requests additional information, edits or changes, then determine which inventions to approve and proceed with. We have a great balance and variety of style and talent in the Dibzy Inventor community. We give our community wish lists from manufacturers, recaps from trade fairs and other industry events we attend, and regularly circulate news and updates. We hold regular Google Hangout brainstorm sessions for those inventors who want input on their designs. Some of our inventors collaborate on ideas.
MM: How many toys have you invented or placed on the market through your company? Which are your favorites and why?
JF: Toy Fair 2016 was our first! We met many manufacturers at this show, most were eager to learn more about Dibzy and welcomed the opportunity to have Dibzy vet product submissions and get them market ready before presenting them. We placed toys from Dibzy inventors Jeff Stock and Louise White with Fat Brain Toy and Alex Brands. These toys launched at the Nuremberg Toy Fair and were very well received. A happy consequence was that many of the manufacturers we met with at NYC Toy Fair had seen and admired those toys in Nuremberg, so Dibzy was even more popular this year. Having some success under our belt has helped open doors and gotten requests for pitches from some of the major toy manufacturers.
MM: Do you prefer to design/promote toys for a specific gender or age range?
JF: Dibzy is all things family, this includes products for mom, dad, baby, kid, and pets! When it comes to toys, our most requested category is infant through preschool developmental toys. Personally, I am the best at soft goods for infants and children, so I have enjoyed having inventors in our community who are really great at hard goods and outdoor toys.
MM: What’s the best part of being a game designer/company owner?
JF: I love being a co-founder of Dibzy for a few reasons. My colleagues and co-founders are the best in the industry and dear friends so we have a solid foundation of trust and have each other’s back. I am at the point in my career where the “give back” aspect is important to me. It has been a joy to help inventors- new and seasoned- make their product idea and pitch the best it can be. It is rewarding to see growth and success, not to mention seeing Dibzy products at trade fairs and on the shelves!
MM: What advice can you offer to aspiring designers?
JF: There is so much information available on the internet these days, that ambitious designers can really get ahead with by doing research anytime, anywhere. Here are the four things we practice and ask every inventor in our Dibzy community to get in the habit of doing:
1) Stay current! Pop culture, popular blogs, what’s trending on YouTube and movie releases directly reflect what’s happening in the Toy Industry.
2) Subscribe to industry newsletters, join industry and LinkedIn groups, go to networking events, communicate with other inventors and industry experts. One example; Dibzy joined Women in Toys. That opened up a wonderful network, provided us with many great networking events and access to a wealth of industry inside information.
3) Educate yourself. If you have an idea, study the competition, know what popular price points are for like items, do google searches to see if your idea has already been done, google “best sellers” in your category, study product lines of the major brands and make sure you convey the concept clearly.
4) Be persistent and don’t take rejection personally.
MM: What’s next for you? Is there anything else you would like to mention?
JF: One of our long-term goals is to place collections of Dibzy Brand products at retail. These items would be under the Dibzy brand and would feature each individual inventor’s name and showcase link. Millennial consumers like to know the story behind the products they buy.