Speakers

Adrienne Appell

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgToy Safety 101: Safe Shopping Education for Families
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm-3:15pm


As The Toy Association’s leading trend specialist, Adrienne Appell maintains close communication with representatives of the Association’s member toy companies to stay abreast of what’s new, next, and cutting-edge in the toy industry. She also publishes articles on trends in parallel industries that may influence the toy and youth space.

Adrienne is interviewed frequently by national and local consumer and business media on toy trends and related topics. She is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the media, including bloggers and other social media contacts. In addition to regular reports on local New York-metro area networks, her media interviews include Good Morning America, WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, Good Day New York (FOX), NY-1, Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.

Adrienne has more than a decade of experience in the toy/youth industry. Prior to joining The Toy Association, she worked in the corporate communications division of Scholastic, Inc. Adrienne began her career at the global public relations agency Weber Shandwick, working on client accounts such as Kodak, Disney, and Compaq computers.

Adrienne lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and two young children.

Roger Bildsten

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgVital Engagement: The Grandparent
Sunday, June 9, 2019

1:00pm - 2:00pm 

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Roger Bildsten is the founder and CEO of Hip Hooray LLC, established in 2007. At Hip Hooray Roger speaks and writes about kids, the grownups who care about them, and the business organizations that serve them. He curates the Grand Grandparent website studying the role grandparents play in the world of their grandchildren and the positive impact smart companies can have.

Roger has been the President and CEO of two respected specialty toy companies: Manhattan Toy and International Playthings. In
addition, he has served multiple terms on the boards of both the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) and The Toy Association. He remains active with ASTRA committees and is also involved with various environmental efforts. Roger Bildsten has an MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management and is a frequent global traveler. He and his family live in the Twin Cities.

Caroline Brady

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg3 Proven Ways to Drive Retail Foot Traffic
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm - 3:15pm 



Through her work with Pointy, a retail tech company that helps local brick and mortar stores be found online, Caroline teaches retailers how to make it incredibly easy to display a store’s products online in a way that is optimized for local search. She was the first female to join the Pointy team and her role within the company has evolved significantly since then.

She has extensive knowledge of product trends and the most effective ways for shops to display their products online and get higher search rankings. Caroline has also represented Pointy at a number of trade shows and conferences across the US, developing strong relationships with brick & mortar store owners and presenting educational content to them.

She’s constantly writing about tips & trends that will help retailers to increase sales and drive foot traffic via social media, the Pointy blog and newsletters. In 2018 she was featured in the Sunday Business Post’s 30 Under 30 list.



This session will include the following panelists:

Theresa Duncan
Villa Villekulla Toys

Michelle Sahr
Off The Wagon

Scott Friedland
Timeless Toys

Romain Varchetta Bertogli
Google: Strategic Partner Manager

 

Rita Crompton

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg“The Inventor Lady” Presents: How Inventors Think
Sunday, June 9, 2019
2:15pm - 3:15pm 

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Over the past thirty years, Ms. Crompton has started, or helped to start, no less than five successful businesses in four distinct and unrelated industries. Because of her superior marketing skills and the business relationships she has established and nurtured in the national marketplace, Ms. Crompton and her company, FLeCusa International, provide a unique service to clients wishing to enter the marketplace or grow their business to a new level, nationally or internationally. During this adventure, Ms. Crompton has delved heavily into crowdfunding and other avenues that challenge inventors as they enter the world of funding/marketing/selling their product.

 



Nick Guffey

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg“I Need to Speak to the Manager!”
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm - 3:15pm 

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Nick is a third generation retailer at The Toy Store in Lawrence, Kansas. He has a background in psychology (rehab counseling), and backstage theatrical construction and design. Nick entered the toy industry as a part-timer and moved into management four years ago. He has attended over five ASTRA M & A, presenting “Management Roundtable: Proven practices and techniques,” (Denver, 2016). Window design is just one of his strengths, winning contests with both Bruder and Hape, in addition to collecting over 25K views on the infamous “love” window. The most important facet of Nick's management style is gratitude. Nick is married, supports three beasts, and is active in hydroponic gardening, and home brewing.



This session will include the following panelists:

Leah Pickering
leahpickering@me.com
(360) 213-3167

Leah Pickering has over 15 years of retail experience, going all the way back to working nights at a big box retailer in college. She has been the manager for ASTRA Member, Kazoodles Toys in Vancouver WA, for five years. As a West Coaster, Leah has only had the opportunity to attend one ASTRA Marketplace but plans to participate in more in the future. She has been invited to speak on varied topics, mostly relating to homeschooling, on several occasions. She loves sharing retail stories and offering insight and alternative points of view to other managers and retail employees. Leah firmly believes in bringing her softer, more compassionate approach to parenting into the arena of managing employees.

Elisa Moriconi
Manager
The Learning Tree
11536 Ash St.
Leawood, KS 66211

Panelist Elisa Moriconi has been in the toy business going on 5 years. She manages The Learning Tree toy stores for Jonny and Jane Girson. They have 2 stores, 1 in Prairie Village KS and a 2nd in Leawood, KS. Elisa has been in retail for the past 15 years, and loves being in the toy industry. This is her 5th year at ASTRA and she is delighted to be here today. Elisa deals with a variety of issues at her stores, such as interviewing, hiring, and training new employees. Doing scheduling for both stores, helping to plan and host events, post social media, balance inventory, and merchandise. She also works the floor and strives to provide excellent customer service and set a good example for employees. One of her favorite things is seeing the adults come in and be kids again.

Cliff Moss
Owner/Manager

Bio to come. 

Kira Mattheson
Manager
The Toy Box
mskiramattheson@gmail.com

Having started in the toy world as a teenager, Kira has worked in toy stores for going on eight years, and has managed the Toy Box in Amherst, MA for three years. This is her fourth ASTRA conference, and by far her favorite trade show and event to attend. She's passionate about maintaining life and charm in local business, and the number of toys in her home rivals the number of toys in the store she manages.



Ronah Harris

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgSTEAM Learning: Makerspace Toys & Tools
Sunday, June 9, 2019

1:00pm - 2:00pm 

Designer and educator Dr. Ronah Harris is the founder of Play Pattern LLC, a consultancy that provides innovative and strategies in STEAM education. Ronah started teaches Maker and Technology Education in Princeton, NJ. Prior to that has worked with schools and companies to design programs and products that inspire learning and creativity. Ronah has lectured at Teachers College, Columbia University, published and consulted on topics of cognition, creativity, innovation, technology and design. She has also been awarded two daytime Emmys for her work on the educational television shows Sesame Street and The Electric Company. She also helped research the Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators, and a writer for the first computer science curriculum for NYC public schools, CS for All. In addition to Play Pattern LLC, she is a talented textile artist and maker. Ronah has her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University, M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from The New School. She is the mother of two, and she makes toys and dolls in her studio at odd hours.

 

Schylon Hofmann

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgTop 3 Trends of Spielwarenmesse® 
Monday, June 10, 2019

12:00pm - 12:15pm 


Tuesday, June 11, 2019
12:00pm - 12:15pm 

Schylon Hofmann is Cooperation Marketing Manager at Spielwarenmesse eG, the organizer of the largest toy fair in the world – Spielwarenmesse®in Nuremberg, Germany.  She is responsible for developing and cultivating relationships with international trade associations and other relevant partners important to the toy industry.  Schylon also organizes key licensing activities held during the Spielwarenmesse® - LicenseTalks and LicensePreview.

 

 



Aaron Horowitz

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgMake an Impact: Toys with Purpose
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm - 3:15pm 


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Aaron is a maker; from sculptures to business, he is fascinated with the process of taking an idea from concept to reality. His experience growing up with human growth hormone deficiency inspired a desire to bring empathy, design, and a patient-centered mindset to healthcare.

He is the co-founder and CEO of Sproutel, a research and development workshop focused on creating play-based healthcare innovations. Working with Fortune 500 companies, Sproutel collaboratively develops products that create a meaningful impact in people’s lives, and help brands tell powerful stories.

Sproutel is best known for their work creating Jerry the Bear, a best friend for children with type 1 diabetes, and My Special Aflac Duck, a robotic companion for children with cancer. My Special Aflac Duck was born through a collaboration with Aflac and is the result of working with over 100 children and 35 doctors - an example of Sproutel’s unique patient-centered design process.

The White House and Barack Obama recognized Sproutel as one of 32 companies representing diversity in tech in 2015, and Aaron as one of 50 honored makers in 2014. In 2017 the Small Business Administration recognized Aaron as the Rhode Island Entrepreneur of the year. He holds a degree in Mechatronics and User Interaction Design from Northwestern University, a major he created to pursue a passion for understanding how people play with robots! Through his work, Aaron is on a mission to design technology with purpose. When unplugged Aaron is likely either carving stone or surfing. 

Jason Kotecki

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgWorkshop
#NotARule: The Art of Winning at Life by Breaking Rules That Don't Exist
Sunday, June 9, 2019
10:15am-11:30am

Networking Lunch & Learn
Lemonade Stand 2.0: Secrets from Childhood for Succeeding in Business & Life
Sunday, June 9, 2019

11:45am-12:45pm




Jason Kotecki is a professional reminder-er and permission granter who moonlights as an artist, author and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim have made it their mission in life to help people and organizations break free from Adultitis to build better lives, businesses, and teams. Jason’s colorful art has been collected and licensed all over the world, and his insights have been featured in publications like Inc. and Woman’s Day. He is the author of six books, including Penguins Can’t Fly + 39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist, which has been translated into languages he can’t even read.

As a speaker, Jason works with organizations to beat burnout and become more innovative by breaking rules that don’t exist. He is recognized by the National Speakers
Association as a Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP). Only the top 10% of speakers in the world have this designation, which is the profession’s highest earned international
measure of platform competence. CSPs are held to the highest ethical standards, and bring a proven track record of expertise and excellence. An avid eater of sugar-laden cereal, Jason enjoys Star Wars, soft t-shirts, and brand new tubes of paint. He and Kim homeschool their three weird kids and live in Madison, Wisconsin, where they eat way too many cheese curds.

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Rieva Lesonsky

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgConquering the New World of Marketing Musts
Sunday, June 10, 2018

10:15am-11:30am


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Rieva Lesonsky is cofounder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content creation company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally- known speaker, best-selling author, and authority on entrepreneurship, Lesonsky has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Previously, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur magazine.

Jim Marski

J__Marski.jpgBeyond Toys: Diversifying Your Product Mix
Sunday, June 9, 2019
1:00pm - 2:00pm 




Jim is the Managing Partner of Hobby-Expo LLC, which produces hobby-centered events, including the Rocky Mountain Hobby-Expo, the combined trade and consumer show sponsored by the Hobby Manufacturers Association.

Recognizing the significant impact of product line expansion for hobby retailers, Jim has grown the Hobby-Expo to include specialty toys, games and STEM products through cooperation with ASTRA and GAMA. Jim brings his significant knowledge of the hobby industry to the discussion of possible avenues for ASTRA retailers to expand their product lines and delay customers aging out.

Jim has over 35 years’ experience in the hobby industry as a retail store owner, small manufacturer, product designer, VP of sales and marketing and show producer. Jim holds a BA in Accountancy form the University of Illinois and has 20 years’ experience in public accounting and corporate accounting and finance.

This session will include the following panelists:

Kate Tanner | Kidstop Toys & Books
Cynthia Compton | 4 Kids Books & Toys
Anita Demetropoulos | Island Treasure Toys
Todd Anderson | Hub Hobby

 

Rebecca Mond

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgToy Safety 101: Safe Shopping Education for Families 
Sunday, June 9, 2019
2:15pm-3:15pm




As The Toy Association’s Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, Rebecca Mond works with legislators and regulators on a federal and international level to advocate on behalf of the toy industry’s interests on a wide range of issues including: product safety, international trade, Customs issues like import surveillance, compliance, intellectual property protection, tax, emerging technology and transportation. Rebecca also works with Toy Association members to assist in understanding and complying with existing and pending legislation and regulations. She develops various education programs and communication and helps members on day-to-day business operations that are impacted by federal government initiatives.

Prior to joining The Toy Association in 2011, Rebecca worked at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) as a Government Relations Manager. There, she created and served as staff liaison for the AAFA’s Product Safety Council. While at AAFA, Rebecca developed strong relationships with predominant stakeholders within the product safety community and helped AAFA members understand and comply with product safety regulations. In this role, Rebecca has developed an expertise in product safety regulations, creating informational tools for members and organizing product safety events and seminars, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Rebecca graduated from Georgetown University majoring in government with a focus on U.S.-China politics and has studied and traveled extensively in China.

 

Kelly Nelson

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgOmni-Channel Retail & the Modern Marketplace
Sunday, June 9, 2019

1:00pm-2:00pm

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Kelly Nelson grew up in her family’s Atlanta area baby and children stores. She worked in all aspects of the business for 21 years before the family decided to close. After the closure of the family stores, Kelly went to work for Brixy, the baby industry association for specialty stores and Locally, an ethos-driven tech company whose mission it is to give consumers information about the brick and mortar shops in their neighborhood. Kelly’s desire is to ensure that no other family ever has to make the decision to close their business.




Courtney Ramsey

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgDevelopment Through Delegation: How Letting Go Can Build Them Up
Sunday, June 9, 2019
1:00pm-2:00pm


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With over 15 years of experience in corporate Learning & Development / Human Resources, Courtney Ramsey knows about changing behaviors! She delivers experiential keynotes and training that impact business results and inspire the audience!

Courtney finds ways to get the audience involved and in motion, giving them an experience they’ll remember and actions they can immediately implement in their professional lives.

In addition to keynotes, Courtney specializes in creating and facilitating training programs that empower and motivate. She also teaches speakers, authors, and coaches to create their own workshops to share their expertise.

She recently authored her first book, Share Your Genius: 35 Tips to Create Training That Transforms.

Over the years, Courtney has trained over 20 thousand associates in the areas of leadership, business management, conflict resolution, effective communication, and operations, helping companies like JCPenney, Sephora inside JCPenney, and Zale Corporation save millions of dollars.

She received her MBA and BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University. She holds her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification, is a Certified Training Professional with the Association for Talent Development, and is a certified facilitator for Fierce Conversations. She’s also a professional member of the National Speakers Association and is the Associate Dean of the Charbonneau Speakers Academy for the North Texas Chapter.

Tyler Rhoton

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgTop 5 Website Mistakes
Monday, June 10, 2019
3:00pm - 3:15pm


Tuesday June 11, 2019
3:00pm - 3:15pm




Tyler Rhoton is an Account Executive at Rain Retail Software. He graduated from BYU with a Bachelors degree and has over 10 years of managerial and sales experience. Tyler has also been the Customer Service Manager at Rain. He has spent the last 7 years helping businesses improve their online presence and performance. Rain specializes in providing a seamless marketing, point of sale, and website system for specialty retailers.

Ron Rosenberg

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgThe Inner Secrets to Double Your Memory 
Sunday, June 9, 2019
10:15am-11:30am


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Ron Rosenberg, president of QualityTalk, Inc., is an award-winning speaker, author, and coach. He is a nationally recognized expert on association marketing and customer service, has authored several books and learning systems, and leads high-level marketing and business development coaching programs.

Since, 1994, Ron has presented thousands of presentations to businesses and associations serving a wide variety of industries and professions including self-storage, funeral, nursery and landscape, legal administration, medical and dental, and many, many others.
Over 20,000 people have subscribed to his GoMarketYou! newsletter. His expert commentary has been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and in Smart Money and Real Simple magazines.

Visit http://ronrosenbergspeaker.com/astra-programs/ for a special video message from Ron Rosenberg. You can also visit www.ronrosenbergspeaker.com/videos and www.ronrosenbergspeaker.com/testimonials to view some demo videos and client testimonials!

Jennifer Rust

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg5 Easy Steps to Find the Hidden Cash in Your Business
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm-3:15pm

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Jennifer Rust is the CEO of Creative Profit Planning, a former retail store owner and a seasoned CPA.  She works to develop roadmaps to profitability for independent retail stores, guiding them down the path to resolution of their financial challenges and putting more money in the pockets of her clients.   She has lived and breathed what you are experiencing on a personal level in her own retail business and shared in many financial challenges thru the eyes of hundreds of diverse small businesses in her accounting practice. 

And now she shares that knowledge with the entrepreneurs who are willing to commit to tightening their belts, following a plan, and opening their eyes and hearts to the possibility of what financial freedom could look like in their businesses.  Her clients consist of a diverse group of retail stores both large and small in all areas of the United States. She is a proud Affiliate of Management One.

Thom Singer

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgIn Real Life: Connecting with People in a Gadget Crazed World
Sunday, June 9, 2019
2:15pm-3:15pm

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Thom Singer has an eclectic background working in sales, marketing and business development roles for Fortune 500 Companies, Law Firms, and entrepreneurial ventures.  He believes that all opportunities come from people, and when we work together to find “cooperative significance” with others we all discover more success.  

Singer is a professional master of ceremonies, speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of twelve books on the power of business relationships, business development, entrepreneurship, sales, legal marketing and presentation skills.  He speaks regularly at business and association conferences around the United States and beyond.

He is also the host of the widely popular “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” podcast.  On this show he interviews entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and business leaders from a variety of industries.  He encourages his guests to share tips and ideas that can help those with an “entrepreneurial spirit” find their own path toward success.

Thom and his wife, Sara, make their home in Austin, Texas and are the parents of two highly spirited daughters.

Mary Sisson

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgAttract & Retain Customers All Year Long
Sunday, June 9, 2019
1:00pm-2:00pm

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A native Northwesterner, Mary Sisson had no experience in running a business when she and husband Bob decided to open a toy store. But through taking classes, talking with toy store owners from coast to coast, and joining ASTRA, they learned and opened Kazoodles in 2006. With a background in journalism, she volunteered to edit the ASTRA Newsletter and did so for 12 years, through its transformation into ASTRA Toy Times Magazine. Parents of three and grandparents of five, the Sissons are strong advocates of healthy play and quality toys, as well as shopping local.








Ron Solomon

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgSurvival Strategies for Amazon
Sunday, June 9, 2019

2:15pm - 3:15pm


Ronald Solomon has written books and television shows, created and run commercially successful products and services spanning children's toys and games, and information technology.

In 2006 Solomon started The Creditors Network, a unique, online system that helps vendors to exchange credit information on their shared customers. In 2012 the company added MAPP Trap to its portfolio in order to help companies keep track of how their products are being represented by online merchants. The system is currently in use by manufacturers in a variety of industries spanning, toys, games, juvenile products, pet products, gift, housewares, auto parts sporting goods, health, beauty and more.

From 1998-2010, Solomon successfully created and distributed his own line of award-winning products for the “tween” market. Through his company, Swingset Press, Solomon forged a successful niche in the specialty toy, gift, book and girls’ accessories markets. His products have received publicity in such venues as The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Radio Disney, AOL’s “Kid’s On Line”, InStyle Magazine, The Today Show, New York Magazine, Working Mother, Parenting and YM and more.

Before forming Swingset Press, Solomon spent over a decade in television. Starting in 1987, he worked with NBC to create the highly successful "TNBC"​ block of programming. He worked as a writer/producer and writer/co-executive producer on such iconic series as "Saved By The Bell,"​ "California Dreams"​ (co-created by Ron for NBC), and "Hang Time."​

After completing over 200 episodes, Solomon left NBC and wrote dozens of freelance scripts (produced) and original television pilots for Fred Silverman, UPN, Disney, and FOX Television.



Sameer Somal

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The Case for Transition Planning: Retirement & Semi Retirement
Sunday, June 9, 2019
10:15am - 11:30am

Financials Made Easy
Sunday, June 9, 2019
1:00pm - 2:00pm


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Sameer Somal is the Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Global Technology and Blue Ocean Global Wealth. He was a Senior Investment Analyst at The Bank of Nova Scotia and a Financial Advisor and Intermediary at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch & Co. As part of the Investment Strategy Group at The Bank of Nova Scotia, Sameer authored white papers and delivered keynote presentations.

He is a CFA Charterholder, a CFP® professional, and a Chartered Alternative Investment AnalystSM. Sameer is a frequent speaker on relationship capital, digital reputation, succession planning, technology, diversity, entrepreneurship, ethics, and leadership.

Fundamental to his work at Blue Ocean Global Technology, he leads collaboration with an exclusive group of PR, Law, Digital Marketing, and Web-Development agency partners. Sameer helps clients build, monitor and repair their digital presence. He is a published writer and Internet Defamation subject matter expert witness. In collaboration with the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, he authors continuing legal education (CLE) programs. Sameer proudly serves on the board of the CFA Institute Seminar for Global Investors, College Possible and the R.J. Leonard Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating, initiating careers and personally mentoring young adults who are aging out of the foster care system. Sameer was named an Iconic Leader Creating a Better World for All by the All Ladies League & Women Economic Forum.




Kathleen Tomes

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgTips & Tricks: Working with Social Media Influencers
Sunday, June 9, 2019

1:00pm-2:00pm


ktomes

Brilliant PR & Marketing was founded by Kathleen Tomes, successful entrepreneur and mother of adorable twins. The company was born in 2008 and it changed the way brands get in front of their consumers and hasn't stopped since! Brilliant PR & Marketing was founded with one goal: to find and effectively market the “game-changers” – the innovative, educational, life-changing products no family should be without. We credit our success to our insatiable lust for connection, our deep desire to understand and our sincere passion to enhance the lives of families everywhere. 

Crystal Vilkaitis

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg6 Steps to Creating & Executing a Profitable Social Media Plan
Sunday, June 9, 2019

1:00pm - 2:00pm

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Crystal Vilkaitis is the leading expert on social media in the retail industry. As a social media mentor, speaker and founder of Crystal Media, a company that helps mom and pop brick-and-mortars drive foot traffic using social media, Crystal travels the globe sharing her hands-on experience. She’s worked with thousands of retailers to help them save time, increase local exposure, foot traffic and sales all while having fun doing so. She’s found that social can be simple, and teaches retailers how. Through her trainings, retailers have achieved results like: the highest sales day in their 13-year history, the biggest event in their 12-year history, 75+% increase in profit from the previous year, selling out of products in 1-2 days from social media and much more.

Tim Walsh

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgCompelling Connections: The Current of Influence
Sunday, June 9, 2019
10:15am-11:30am

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TIM WALSH plays hard. He’s a professional speaker, author, game designer and filmmaker. His first book, Timeless Toys 
(Andrews-McMeel, 2005) was praised by The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. His second, WHAM-O Super-Book (Chronicle Books, 2008) was picked by NPR as “One of the best gift books of the year.” His third book, Right Brain Red: 7 Ideas for Creative Success, was written with designer and superentrepreneur Reyn Guyer.

A 28-year veteran of the toy industry, Tim began his toy career at Patch Products (now PlayMonster) as its VP of Product Development & Marketing and was instrumental in taking that company from $3 million in sales to over $23 million in just 7 years. His designs and codesigns of games have sold over 7 million copies in 13 countries and include the games TriBond, Blurt, Mad Gab, Link ‘Em and many others. He’s appeared on numerous TV and radio shows including CBS’s The Early Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, This Way Up (New Zealand), Top 100 Toys (BBC), and CNBC’s The Big Idea, among many others.

In 2010, Tim co-produced the film Toyland, by director Ken Sons. The film won Best Documentary awards at three US film festivals. In 2016, he co-produced and co-directed
OPERATION: Operation The Power of Play with Peggy Brown. The film shares the amazing story of John Spinello, the inventor of the classic game Operation, as he discovers that creativity connects him to more people in more ways than he ever could have imagined. Tim frequently lectures on Connection using the film as a backdrop. OPERATION: Operation The Power of Play won the top prize for best film as well as Best Documentary Film at the 2017 Naperville Independent Film Festival. As a lecturer and inspiration speaker, Tim is out to prove that PLAY is a means through which we can super-charge creativity and connect with others. He has spoken on this topic and others to teams as diverse as the USC’s Physical Sciences in Oncology Center, the State Bar of Arizona, and Otis College of Art & Design, among other creative organizations.

In 2016, Tim launched Getta1Games with toy industry veterans Dennis and Crystal Callaghan. Getta1Games produces most of the games that Tim has designed, including the award-winning You’ve Been Framed and Feed Fuzzy, among others.

In 2018, Tim updated his WHAM-O Super Book to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the legendary toy company and lectures on the book in a fun and interactive presentation entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned from WHAM-O Toys!

Find Tim playing at www.theplaymakers.com

Phil Wrzesinski

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg3 Mistakes You Can Fix Tomorrow
Monday, June 10, 2019

10:00am - 10:15am

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

10:00am - 10:15am


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Phil Wrzesinski is the former President and Owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Michigan, one of America’s largest and oldest independent toy and baby stores named one of the 25 Best Independent Stores in America in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin.


Phil uses what he learned in a lifetime of retail to help other independent retailers and small businesses with their Advertising, Pricing, Inventory Management, Customer Service, Hiring and Staff Trainings. His business presentations are always fun & informative, and full of useful tips you can implement right away. His first book, “Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art” is helping all types of businesses improve the quality of their staff.

Phil is the proud father of two boys and helps expectant fathers get off to a good start in their fatherhoods through a highly-touted class he teaches at the local hospital called “Babies 101: The Basics for New Dads”.

Phil also writes for several retail magazines and has a popular blog on retailing at www.PhilsForum.com.