Tanya Thompson on the success of Hasbro’s Women Innovators of Play event

Tanya Thompson, Hasbro, Women Innovators of Play

Tanya, it’s always great to catch up. Congrats on the launch of Hasbro’s Women Innovators of Play – it’s been met with such a positive reaction. How did the idea for this event come about?
Supporting the community of women innovators across the toy and game industry has always been a priority for us at Hasbro. Our Head of Toy at Hasbro, Kim Boyd, asked me over the last year what else we could do to support women innovators in this industry, so we started to formulate what we thought would be impactful. We also talked with some women innovators we already knew to get their opinion. We then pitched the Women Innovators of Play initiative, and it was green lit this spring.

I know you’re passionate about connecting with more women innovators and seeing ideas from as inclusive a pool of talent as possible. How do you see this event playing a role in expanding that pool?
The event has been a tremendous success and it was great to have so many women respond so positively. We’ve also just launched our Women Innovators of Play Challenge where we’re collecting toy and game submissions through our website: www.spark.hasbro.com/womeninnovators. We’ll review the submissions and look to identify not only the three top winners, but also others who we’ll connect with. Hasbro is committed to creating a space for a global community of women and we value inclusion.

You had a fab line-up of speakers, including Wingspan creator Elizabeth Hargrave and Fuse’s own Eleanor Black. How did you put this all together? Why were these good people to speak at this inaugural event?
We’re excited about every speaker in the line-up. We carefully curated them, because we were looking to educate new women innovators in all aspects of our industry.

Elizabeth Hargrave is a premier game designer whose game Wingspan has changed the board-gaming landscape to be more gender neutral. Eleanor Black is a pivotal leader at Fuse – and they have a wonderful history in both toys and games, and partnering with Hasbro and other mass-market companies. These two examples are great, because we wanted attendees to learn all about the hobby, specialty and mass markets – and what it takes to be an innovator in all three.

Hasbro, Women Innovators of Play Challenge, Tanya Thompson

We also wanted to dedicate part of the day to real conversations that women often face. So Cynthia Williams talking about Doubt and Imposter Syndrome as the President of Wizards of the Coast, and Aisha Tyler talking about resilience as a very successful actor, director and entrepreneur was very important.

And then, finally, we wanted to give attendees some practical information that would help them in their pitching to Hasbro as well as the toy and game industry… So having talks on the Perfect Pitch and the product Journey to Mass Market rounded off the day so well.

Are there plans to host more of these events? Will Women Innovators of Play become a wider initiative?
Our current focus is on this year’s event and Challenge, but we look forward to the potential for the future.

How can the wider industry – including Mojo Nation – contribute to bringing more diverse voices into the inventor space?
By doing things like Hasbro’s Women Innovators of Play Event and Challenge – as well as Mojo Nation’s Play Creators Festival! It’s all about supporting underrepresented voices by giving access to more time, money and opportunity.

You announced the Women Innovators of Play Challenge at the event. Talk us through what that entails?
In conjunction with the virtual event, Hasbro is opening a one-month call for entries on September 12th to October 12th to search for the next great women-led mass market toy or game. Hasbro judges will select three winners to each receive $10,000, a trip to Hasbro headquarters in Rhode Island for a ‘Day in the Life’ experience, and a mentorship session with a Hasbro woman leader. Those interested can visit https://spark.hasbro.com/womeninnovators to learn more.

Fantastic. And what advice would you give anyone submitting concepts to you for the Challenge?
The Challenge criteria is based on several factors: innovation, fun factor and playability, design and aesthetics, mass marketability and manufacturability. These are the things we’ll judge the submissions on. Our advice would be to just do it – submit your ideas! You never know what may happen!

Great stuff. We look forward to hearing about the winners. Thanks again Tanya – and huge congrats to you and the team on the successful launch of Women Innovators of Play.

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