I recently had the opportunity to sit down (over Zoom) with Alexis Mason, part owner of Inklings. This awesome company is a New Jersey based, majority women owned & part LGBTQ owned company focusing on quirky, soft toys and infant novels.
Alexis and Aimee met in 1996 as freshman attending Wayne Hills High School in Wayne New Jersey. They have been best friends ever since. Aimee was a straight A student, while Alexis was cutting class and trying to convince Aimee to cut with her. It is true that opposites attract, and work great together. Each woman brings something unique to the table, and that unique point of view coupled with their twenty-year friendship is what makes the Inklings creative partnership successful.
When Aimee had her daughter Evie, the subject of the first Inklings book, Alexis was searching for the perfect baby gift that was both unique and fun. She looked everywhere, but could not find exactly what she was looking for. Alexis is not a mom herself, but a proud aunt to Aimee’s children. She wanted something funky and fun, and offbeat just like her and Aimee!
The original idea came as most great ideas do, after an evening of drinking wine. Aimee and Alexis wanted to create a line of toys that had a fun 80’s vibe with an ohmage to their favorite kids show, Fraggle rock. Inklings came from the idea that a tiny spark in a child’s imagination can create something wonderful and unique. The stories that accompany each Inkling show how that single spark can create a caring imaginary best friend. Because children aren’t held back by what things are “supposed” to be, they are free to imagine and create without limitations and to love without prejudice. Inklings are genderless and the children who imagine them are diverse.
What started as a fun idea between old friends, turned into a fully funded Kickstarter campaign. They raised $22,000 to create the first story of Evie and Ollie the Oddball Oddbird. The Inklings team think that gender specific toys are old news and that is why they designed Inklings with every child in mind.
Fast forward to 2020 when Inklings attended the North American International Toy Fair, the largest toy trade show in the Western hemisphere. It was at this show that Aimee and Alexis had the opportunity to get Ollie, Wobby, and Gus in front of the toy buyer for Target. After receiving the Inklings samples and loving them, the buyer convinced the higher ups at Target to take a chance on Inklings for the 2020 holiday season!
Aimee received the email about Target purchasing their Inklings and immediately called Alexis, to scream, “OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO BE IN TARGET!”
I asked Alexis if she had any advice for female entrepreneurs and here is what she had to say:
“You have to say to yourself; this is what I want, and this is what I have to do to get what I want. Do not question yourself! I think as women we are too used to blending into the background but being assertive is how you achieve your goals! Ask yourself the question: If other people can succeed then why not me?”
You can also get to know Aimee by joining Cool Moms of Northern New Jersey!