What happens when a professional photographer and a creative director who have worked together for more than 30 years designing print ads, direct mail pieces, magazine inserts, and corporate annual reports, decide to shake things up career-wise at 62?
What is their second act? What challenge do they take on? What problem do they try to solve for? What innovative product or service could they offer?
For Jim Barber – a professional photographer with a studio in Danbury, Connecticut the answer became clear seven years ago… toys.
Specifically toys that could be made sustainably and ensure a high degree of safety and play value.
Jim had spoken with some people about an innovative new material that had promise for a number of products. Jim was hooked. He dug into research, reading, studying, speaking with plastics experts and manufacturers. At the same time, he recruited his adult son, Luke had self-educated himself in CAD software, to begin designing prototype toys.
Sensing he and Luke were on to something, Jim reached out to my dad Mitch – a creative director - about building a brand and a company around the toys that Luke was designing. In turn my father reached out to me about helping with digital marketing and PR. Soon we became two father/son teams working to make high quality, educational toys for kids… Jim and Luke on manufacturing and production – and Mitch and Evan handling branding/marketing, packaging and PR.
If this is surprising, it shouldn’t be. Nearly a quarter of new entrepreneurs are baby boomers aged 55-64, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. A Founder Institute study shows that a 55-year-old and a 65-year-old have more innovative potential than a 25-year-old. Drawing on their decades of business experience older entrepreneurs have more experience, patience, connections, and funding to draw on.
As Luke’s Toy Factory has grown, slowly but surely, from concept, to proof of concept, Kickstarter campaign, first sales, and expansion of our line, I have been impressed (but can’t say surprised) by the discipline and persistence our fathers have demonstrated. Throughout our lives, Jim and Mitch have been such great examples for Luke and I, and that example continues as we grow this brand.
I for one, couldn’t be happier for, or prouder of our fathers, and am excited for whatever comes next!
Happy Father’s Day!