Page 36

FROM PINCUSHION TO PLUSH BY

n today’s world, a woman starting her own company is nothing unusual. But in 1933, when Mary Meyer first started the company that still bears her name, it was an unusual development, not least for being a business that was launched during the Great Depression. Using skills developed while studying clothing design, Meyer began to design and manufacture tomato- and animal-shaped pincushions, as well as small cloth dolls. Her husband, Hans Meyer, went on the road, selling the small company’s products. As the company’s sales grew, the Meyers moved themselves and their business out to Vermont, expanding its product line to include plush toys. The first of the Meyer sons, Walter, joined the company in the 1950s. Others followed and, for 76 years, Mary Meyer has remained a family-owned plush manufacturer. Now, in 2009, Mary Meyer continues to hold true to the principles that Mary and Hans Meyer set down early in the company’s history. “We are committed to making quality product,” says Linda Colson, vice-president of sales at Mary Meyer. Mary Meyer toys aren’t designed to sit on the shelves. The Meyer family often takes prototypes of toys home to their own children and grandchildren, bringing their feedback to the company to aid in the design process. The company focuses on traditional plush, as well as puppets and soft toys. In addition, Mary Meyer has started a baby line that continues to do well. While the company continues to value its

I

36 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT AUGUST 2009

PAUL NARULA

heritage, that doesn’t mean that Mary Meyer doesn’t innovate in the plush category. Plush is a popular and large category, with a number of competitors, and the company doesn’t shy away from introducing plush with a twist that stays within its core philosophy. “We aren’t going to go the route of a product such as Webkinz,” says Colson. Instead, Mary Meyer introduces plush with a twist that can expand the audience. The company has developed a new line of plush called “It’s A Girl’s World,”

Earthmates

a line that is specifically targeted toward tween girls. The line features horses, unicorns, and other girl-oriented plush, packaged with fashion accessories and bonuses to appeal to girls and collectors. “By taking plush and twisting it, by stepping outside the box a little, we can make something that’s still soft, still plush, but just different enough so that it’s not just another stuffed animal,” says Colson. Perhaps the biggest “plush with a twist” product line that Mary Meyer has developed is Earthmates. Earthmates is the company’s eco-

friendly line that has a three-pronged approach to eco-friendly plush that defines three different Earthmates product lines. The Organic line features plush made entirely from certifiably organic cotton cloth and stuffing. Earthmates also encompasses Mary Meyer’s Bamboo line, which features plush made from bamboo, which is an easily sustainable resource. Finally, Mary Meyer’s Earthmates line includes recycled plush, dubbed “Fuzz That Wuzz.” The outer shell and stuffing of these products are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Each toy is made up of roughly 10 recycled bottles. “There is a lot of competition, and products like Earthmates are how we separate ourselves from the crowd.” Having been in the plush business for more than 70 years, Mary Meyer knows that the category can be cyclical; the category has had its ups and downs. “The strength of Mary Meyer is that we’ve seen the cycle,” says Colson. “We know, no matter what happens, the category is always going to come back.” Because of that knowledge, Mary Meyer continues to innovate and move forward with new developments in its category. The company will continue to expand its baby catalog. In addition, the company will continue to bolster its Earthmates line with new products. For 76 years and two generations, Mary Meyer has stuck to the principles laid out by its founders and has no intention of changing that aspect of the company. “We’re about the things that all toy companies should be about,” says Colson. “We’re about kids.”

Profile for aNb Media

Toys & Family Entertainment, August 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Toys & Family Entertainment, August 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Profile for anbmedia