At Harris Bricken, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.

In Episode #61, we are joined by Azhelle Wade, The Toy Coach.

We discuss:

  • How a passion for working with children led to a career in toy design and development.
  • The importance of market research for aspiring toymakers.
  • Legal concerns for toymakers, including intellectual property and testing.
  • Toys as a case study in the importance of protecting molds when manufacturing overseas.
  • What toy entrepreneurs doing business in China can expect.
  • The difficulties of reshoring toy production.
  • Salsa, bachata, and the joy of dancing across language barriers.
  • Listening, and watching recommendations from:

We’ll see you next week for another exciting and informative episode when we sit down with Alberto Villarreal, as we discuss business expansion and barriers in Latin America.

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Azhelle Wade  0:07 

Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global law and business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort.


Jonathan Bench  0:37 

And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important, the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.


Fred Rocafort  1:02 

We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.


Welcome everyone. Today we are talking to Azhelle Wade. Better known as the Toy Coach. Azhelle, welcome to Harris Bricken Global Law and Business.


Azhelle Wade 1:33

Thank you so much for having me here today, guys.


Jonathan Bench  1:36 

Azhelle, to get things started please tell us about your self and your career track. You call yourself the Toy Coach, I love that, I’d love to hear about your passion for toys and how you got into this space. It’s fascinating.


Azhelle Wade  1:48 

Sure, sure. So a long time ago, when I was a kid, I knew I always wanted to work with children at first. So I thought I was going to go into education. And then my sister who we were talking about before this, who named me, right? She said, you know, teachers don’t get paid enough. Don’t go into education. Don’t do that. Then I fluctuated between wanting to be like a child psychologist. And eventually I met somebody who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. And she actually studied exhibition design there. So I went and followed in her footsteps. And I said, I’m going to do exhibitions. But I’m going to do children’s exhibitions. And one of my teachers saw what I was doing. And they said, you know, there’s a toy design program here. I’d never heard of that before. I didn’t think that was a real thing. But I talked to the department head I applied and I got in and it’s a small industry, the toy industry, but it is exciting and so much fun. And I mean, ever since I got into it, it just felt like home.


Jonathan Bench  2:50 

Can you tell us a little more about what you do on it on a daily basis as the toy coach? Are you consulting with companies? Are you do you have products or brands of your own that you’re running? Very curious about the ins and outs of that.


Azhelle Wade  3:03 

Sure. So I just started the Toy Coach under a year ago, I’m almost coming up on my one year anniversary. Before that I had a 10 year career in the toy industry where I did design and development for just various brands. I worked for Toys R Us and Party City company called Creative Kids, Madame Alexander, I designed dolls and playsets. And even did product development for arts and crafts lines. I managed multimillion dollar lines, like I did a lot of different things in the industry. So a year ago, when I started the toy coach, I decided to go back to my original dream of being an educator. And now being an educator of the toy industry. So I you know, I took what I knew, and I packaged it up at first i packaged it up in a podcast. And then as that podcast was growing and grew, I decided I wanted to actually create a course. So I built an online course called toy creators Academy. And that course is how I teach and nurture people that want to learn from me and learn the way that I do things or I did things while I was going up through my career. And so that is my primary focus, teaching them connecting them to toy companies, helping them pitch their ideas, helping them prepare the right materials to pitch their ideas, connecting with the right people to protect their ideas, which I found you guys. And and yeah, so that’s what I do on a daily basis. And sometimes I take on clients. What’s nice about being the toy coaches and doing what I’m doing now is I get to be selective about that. So I get to partner with clients and companies I really believe in and, you know, and develop either do social media for them, or I’ll do design like product design for them simple like plush design or doll design. Or I’ll do like social media, like management and development, things like that.


Jonathan Bench  4:58 

That’s so interesting. So can you tell us a little bit about maybe some interesting projects you worked on? Or some interesting products that you worked on him? I’m just really curious now that you’ve given us a background in your background more. Yeah, my kids have these these giant Squishmallows. I think we got to make Costco I don’t know who made those. But they’re, they’re great. I mean, we use them as pillows. We use them for target practice when we’re throwing them at each other. I mean, is there there are a lot of fun toys out there. And I love imagining the kinds of people the kinds of projects that you’ve been working on. So if you can fill us in a little more of that, I would, I would love to hear that.


Azhelle Wade  5:31 

Yeah. So okay, I guess the first thing that comes to my mind, is just the patents that I was named on early on in my career. Honestly, it happened for me so early in my career that I didn’t even realize how how big of a deal it was until like, like eight years into my career that I realized, like, oh, having my name on a patent is a pretty big deal. That’s a pretty cool thing. But early on in my career, I worked for a company called horizon group USA. And one of my first charges was to try to develop product to compete in the fashion activity space. So there was a huge trend at the time, not just for like tie dye, but for like screen printing fashions. So I had I was part of a small team, and our whole focus was to do blue sky new development. So I sat down with the jewelry designer for that team. And I was like, okay, you know, we got to come up with some ideas. And we kind of just ripped back and forth with different ways, different products that we could create. She explained to me how jewelry making works, I create, I took some of what she was saying and tried to tear apart her tools and like, like, kind of Frankenstein them together in different ways and say, Oh, if I did this, like, Can you still make the kind of jewelry You said you could make? And she’s like, yeah, I guess that would work. So that’s the kind of like, I guess, like kitbashing are putting together of work that I did at that company. And, and one of the things I created there was a line called zip screens, which was like a really one time use fast screen printing applicator where there’s like paint inside of this clear plastic sleeve with a styrene sheet attached to the back of it. So use tearaway the top of the plastic sleeve. And then you can squeeze out the paint and the styrene sheet spreads it across the screen. So it was this really fast one time use applicator and it was really innovative at the time as big deal essentially was like a ketchup packet. That was one of my first innovations. And then after that it was a five in one like Brent friendship bracelet creator to create in that space. And then from there some of the things that I guess the rest of the world would know is I worked for Toys R Us and I got to work on this brand called Journey Girls. And I was the design director for this Journey Girls brand and it was a premier 18 inch doll line. It’s one of the premier you know, retail store brand doll lines. And I got to do everything as far as like helping design the fashions for all of the dolls designing like I’m looking up on my desk I have like a giant bicycle that I designed for one of the dolls I did a giant like scooter and Becka and I mean, it was just non stop. So it’s it’s it’s like maybe more you would know an entire brand I worked on then one specific product.


Fred Rocafort 8:18

I’m really enjoying this conversation. I want to go back to something you you mentioned a few minutes ago, which has to do with protecting your your creations right and how how that’s how you first got in touch with us. So I want to I want to follow up on that and ask you about the main issues that aspiring toy inventors toy entrepreneurs face obviously, are at least for us, as lawyers, the protection of intellectual property stands out as an obvious issue. I used to work more directly in the anti counterfeiting IP protection field when I when I lived in China and toys were definitely one of the industries in which we did the most work. I got to go to some really cool trade fairs where I got to see all of the latest stuff and you know, brought out the inner kid. For sure, but let’s talk about some of the the challenges, right? I mean, we can talk a little bit more about IP protection, if you wish. But let us know a little bit about some of the other challenges that might not be so obvious that are nonetheless out there for those who want to enter the industry.


Azhelle Wade 9:26

Yeah, as far as IP protection. It’s so funny because I just had a toy mastermind with a bunch of my students yesterday, and one of them is struggling so much because she doesn’t know if she should test her game idea before getting the proper IP protection. And she’s getting a little bit of you know, different information from different sources because in the toy industry, especially with games, people are not you know, you’re not getting a patent on your game. You can’t patent the steps of your game. But you could patent if there’s like a functioning tool or like a mechanism that is involved in that game, right? So not everything that is pitched to a toy company is patented. And her and not everything that is is shown, like when you share something with your friends or your family, so they can demonstrate it. Not everybody gets someone to sign an NDA to do that. So her struggle was, you know, how do I know when it’s right to to have somebody sign an NDA or when it’s right to just share it and show it to everybody so I can get the idea out there. And I think that that is also why I contacted you guys, because that is the biggest struggle with everybody in the toy industry, they just don’t know when to make that decision. And it’s really, you know, I feel like it’s really just kind of a gut check with who you’re sharing your idea with. You don’t want to spend too much money protecting your idea upfront, because it might not be an idea that’s worth protecting, because maybe it’s not fully developed, maybe it’s not ready to pitch. So why do you want to invest so much in protecting it? But on the other side, like you asked, What are other things that people struggle with. And it’s really just that they don’t vet or research their ideas enough, before they start spending all of this money, developing them and protecting them. And people always think that that’s like such a simple answer. And of course, people do that. But you’d be surprised, like, I have so many, so many students that have developed an idea that they’re really passionate about, and they really believe has a market behind it, but they never did the research, like the real get down in, you know, down to the retail stores, talk to the buyers talk to your ideal target market and really find out if someone’s looking for what you’re creating. And it’s it’s like heartbreaking to me, when somebody comes into my class, I have to go through their product, and I have to be real, I have to be like a hard coach and say, Listen, I see the passion behind your idea, I see it. But I’m telling you from a mass market perspective, it’s not going to work because you’re not appealing to enough of this toy companies target demographic or you’re not appealing to enough people in general to sell and make this product profitable for you. So definitely what people tend to do the most is just skip that research space. So I’m very, very big on that research and testing phase of your development process.


Jonathan Bench  12:23 

I’m really curious about the market entry side of this, how difficult is it to develop a product or a toy line or a game and and put it out on the market, you know, Indy style rather than going through an established toy company?


Azhelle Wade  12:41 

Yeah, that’s very difficult. It’s, it’s very expensive and very difficult. You’re you should expect if you’re trying to do a custom product with custom molds, expect to be spending 50,000 or $100,000, on just making that custom mold, which is the thing that the factory will create to create multiple reproductions of your product, expect to spend that much just on the mold itself to reproduce your product, and then you’re not even talking, then you’re not even talking about testing fees, and freight fees and ship. I mean, you’re just not it’s it’s an expensive undertaking. And that’s why I usually do two things like if somebody comes to me, and they say I want to be a toy entrepreneur, I don’t want to go the inventor route, I don’t want to pitch to toy companies, I want to do it on my own. What I suggest is always starting with like paper based products, and or open market products, because there are a lot of combinations of things that you can create that feel custom, but that aren’t actually custom to the point where you have to invest so much of your money upfront to create them. So I spent a lot of my career in the arts and crafts space. So in the arts and crafts space, you’re taking mostly open market pieces, which are lot more affordable, where you’re paying like five cents per piece, 20 cents per piece, and combining them into a kit to create something that ultimately a kit that ultimately will sell for $20. at retail, that’s a much more feasible approach for someone just starting out, just because you don’t have to have that huge production costs of when you’re creating something completely custom. And the other hold back when you have a custom mold and you’re making a custom product, there’s a minimum amount of pieces that you have to order and that minimum amount is usually going to be 1000 pieces or more. And you don’t know if you haven’t tested or made this product or built up this brand you don’t know if you’ll be able to sell to 1000 people or more. So it’s a really hard undertaking it I always push people instead of trying to go go it alone, you know and do like a doll for example to say okay, what can you buy open market that’s already existing just to test your market just to try to sell a little bit and see how people respond before you invest too deep.


Jonathan Bench  14:59 

So among your many projects you also have your own podcast called Making it in the toy industry. So as fellow podcasters, we would love to hear about your perspectives on this medium. Fred and I are I still consider us pretty new to this. Although we’ve we’ve done I think over 60 episodes now. So it doesn’t feel new every time we sit down, but it is always helpful to hear perspectives from others who are doing their own podcast. What does the podcast do for you? Where does it fall short? We’d love to hear your tips on increasing listenership as well always relevant to all of us.


Azhelle Wade  15:30 

Yeah, I love having a podcast right before I got on this podcast, I was recording my podcast, literally moments before moments, it’s a little bit chaotic. I would have to say my podcast definitely brings me clients, it brings me students, it’s a way because people are searching for the things that I’m talking about. Right. So it’s a it’s a form of sharing that information. It’s essentially, a blog is essentially what your podcast is. But it’s like the New Age version of a blog. What I  guess my advice, as far as like finding new listeners is doing things like this, like getting on other podcasts, but also getting any and all other media features. I’ve done paid promotions for my podcast. But I’ve also just written articles for other blogs and other things to make sure that Pete to find people in other places and pull them back to my podcast. But honestly, for me, in my personal experience, which might be different from everybody else’s, it was just the fact that I was so open with my advice and tips and specific way of thinking and that I openly provided at all of my podcasts without charging for any of it that I think is how I built my audience so quickly, because people from other toy industry organizations saw my podcast as a resource, and thereby would share it. Right. So for anybody just starting, like creating a podcast of their own, you really have to be kind of selfless with the information that you’re giving and, and not worry too much in the beginning of how I’m going to monitor how am I going to monetize this? Like really just you have to be doing it for the right reasons from the get go. And then I believe the money will come after.


Fred Rocafort  17:21


Thank you. Thank you for that. Definitely. I mean, I’ll be very candid. Jonathan and I are just exchanging some comments here backstage because it is very relevant and very useful information. So you know, we’re we’re taking that advice to heart. Before we go any further, I just want to highlight two other things that that you mentioned, that I think are important, then feel free to go a little bit deeper into into that if you if you want. But one thing you mentioned testing, I think this is something that perhaps is not that evident to the average consumer, how much testing is is really required before you can put a toy out in the market, right? And this is the sort of less sexy aspects of the business, right? Every business has them. For example, in our own industry, right? I mean, you can be an aspiring lawyer, you want to go to court and then represent people who who perhaps have difficulties accessing legal representation, but you’re still going to have to deal with all of that nitty gritty of getting insurance, you know, malpractice insurance, and making sure that your bar registration is up to date, etc. And I guess for the toy industry, testing is one of those aspects where I imagine that for most people, it’s not the most enjoyable part of the process, but it is an essential one. And if you’re working across markets, internationally, then you you potentially have to duplicate efforts, right, because other countries might have slightly different requirements. Another point that I wanted to highlight was molds for folks who read our China law blog, where we talk about all sorts of different issues related to doing business in China, moles keep coming up. And again, I can I can sense how some readers feel. Come on. I mean, really, I mean, molds once again, you know, because we really want to hear about some of these new laws that that China’s putting out. But this is really important, right when you’re crafting manufacturing agreements, right when you’re when you’re entering into negotiations with a potential supplier molds are really at the heart of what you’re doing. And if you don’t pay attention to them. If you don’t pay attention to to the specific mold related issues that you might face, then it would be very easy to end up in a situation where you have a problem. In my own experience. For example, one of the issues that I encountered when going to factories on behalf of clients to make sure that their IP was being protected. involved issues with moles. Sometimes you’d have piles of relatively recent molds, maybe not the current season, but you’d have molds from the previous season and two seasons before that. lying around. And in some cases, the factories would say, look, you don’t understand how difficult it is, for us to get rid of a mold, it’s not that easy to recycle it in this particular country, we’re where we are, it’s not that easy to the face them and we can’t repurpose them. So it’s important to to think ahead and to come up with solutions, and to perhaps build these realities into the business plan, not only because of these issues, but also as you pointed out the costs associated with them. So feel free, if you have anything else to add to, to share that with us. But I’d like to just incorporate this into the next question that we had for you, which has to do with China. Obviously, we have a china law blog that tells you a lot about our focus as a law firm. But the truth is that in almost every podcast, we end up going back to the general issue of China. So I know you have some experience with with with China, I think it would be impossible really to be in your space and not not have it, given everything that’s going on. So we’d love to hear about your general impressions of the country experiences that you’ve had both good and bad, perhaps tips that you might have, for others who might be about to to have those those interactions, maybe something you’ve learned along the way having to do with China.


Hmm, that’s a, that’s a big question. Interesting. I am so different. It depends on the so my career was very corporate and in the beginning half. So my experiences in China might be different from somebody who’s starting as an entrepreneur, because you go able to spend less money than if you’re traveling with a big company, right. So when I first traveled, I spent most of my time at Hong Kong. And in Hong Kong, I think it’s like Modi road, there are a lot of toy companies in the buildings like right across the street from what is the Shangri La hotel. So I spent my very first toy trips a lot of just time crossing the street, essentially, to go into showrooms meet with toy companies, they would bring samples from the factories to me at this Hong Kong location. So I could review the samples, make comments and send it back. From that experience, I would say I learned a great deal, just to rely on the partners I was working with at the time, it depends on who you end up working with, of course, you should bet them you should know if they actually have done this kind of work before. But I realized back then that I was trying to take on a lot more responsibility than I needed to because I had a really informed team of of like product managers and factory managers in China, that news that understood what I was trying to do and could offer valuable feedback and make changes. And all I had to do was tell them what I wanted to achieve. And they could figure out the house, it was going to happen. The most important thing when you’re when you’re doing that, when you’re trying to when you’re trying to go to like your factory in China and say this is what I want to achieve, show me how to do that, you have to give them parameters. Because if you say, I want to make this like, I don’t know, if you say like I want to make this 50% smaller, but you don’t give them the parameters that you have to maintain the same material, they might change the material, because when you make us an item smaller there, you maybe want a less dense material or something I don’t know. So like there, I would just say when you give comments to China be very specific about what you’re asking for, if you ask for a change, you have to make sure that you make it clear that that change cannot affect x, y, z, this change cannot affect the color, this change cannot affect the size. If this change will affect the color or the size, please let me know. And we have to figure out another solution. So that’s like number one. Then when I started traveling little bit later in my career, and I worked for smaller companies, the travel got a lot more, it was just a lot more extensive. And I ended up going into mainland China a lot more. And I mean, I would just say for a toy entrepreneur who might be doing that for the first time, like just be ready to be surprised. And maybe to feel a little bit uncomfortable about the work that you’re doing. Because I have to say, in my experience, when I saw like what the you know what the conditions are at the factories and in the towns in the neighborhoods. You can’t help just be being human and feeling like, what am I doing? What am I creating here? You just look at the situation and you’re coming in and you’re saying like this pink isn’t pink enough. And then you look around here like does this pink really matter? Considering the condition of this factory or this home or like whatever. So I mean, I would just say that’s that’s the one I had a little bit of a moment. One One or two times when I traveled and I went into Mainland China where I just felt, am I doing the right thing. And I do think those those feelings are why I wanted to shift from working, working because I Oh, my career’s like very like large scale, like we’re doing mass quantities, we’re doing like 10,000 20,000 units in order. But now what I’m doing, I’m focusing on like the individual toy entrepreneurs who have, who have missions for their product, they’re not just creating product to create another product to get another sale. They’re creating product to give, to help with children’s anxiety to give black girls more confidence, they’re creating products to teach kids math, and there’s a lot more. There’s just like, meaning really strong meaning and passion behind it. So just be ready for that experience. If you travel, as an entrepreneur.


Fred Rocafort  25:51 

Really enjoying this conversation, there’s a lot of strands that I’d like to pull there. But But there’s one in particular that I want to make sure we we address this, as you pointed out, you know, manufacturing in China will bring with it issues, there will be good moments, but there will also be frustrations, there will be those moments of weirdness, there will be those moments when you question the wisdom of having embarked on the project in the first place. But that leads me to a question, by way of introduction point out that I’ve read over the past year or so, about different there’s been different developments here in the United States, geared at offering manufacturing alternatives in the United States, right? Obviously, there’s an effort to to bring back manufacturing on a large scale. But perhaps at the more artesanal level, if you will, I’ve read for example, I’d have to dig this article up. But I remember reading I believe about the surfboard industry, and how they were you know, about someone who had a workshop in California, where were people who who wanted to work, and you know, not necessarily make, you know, millions of surfboards a year, but if they were sort of small scale they had access to, to to these facilities. And it seems to me and this, this could just be a reflection of my ignorance. But it seems to me that that the toy sector might be particularly well suited for for some of that in the sense that perhaps, because of the scale involved with the size of the products, the need to really take into account quality standards, things of that sort, you know, where you really want to be on top of things. So let me ask you do you know of any such opportunities for for entrepreneurs in the toy industry to make product in the United States? Or more generally do? Have you seen any movement in that direction toward more toy manufacturing in the US and more opportunities for entrepreneurs to to get their products made here at home?


Azhelle Wade  27:51 

Yeah, one site that I referenced in, I believe, like episode four of my podcast, is Makers Row. I think there’s also one called thomasnet. And these are usually well US based for sure, I’m not sure if they have anything any domestic elsewhere, like in the UK, but US based factories that you could reach out to I’ve used makers row to find factories to produce clothing, actually, because I was working on a clothing line at the time. And I do have students coming to me asking, oh, can we work with domestic artisans to produce our product I built into my course, like the process that I use, I used at the time, I was looking for someone to sew. So I found a domestic seamstress based in New Jersey, who could create products for me, and it works really well. So I teach that whole process inside my course. But the problem is like just scaling, you can’t really scale when you use a domestic manufacturer. And then the other problem is obviously just pricing with toys. You know, parents are used to paying a certain amount for a certain amount of quality. And just everything in the US is so much more expensive. So it would depend on what you’re creating. But you know, if if having it made in the US is going to cost you like 30% more, you’re not going to be able to make any profit off of it, and then testing it in the US is going to cost you more and just shipping it around the US even for testing or whatever is is going to cost you more. So what I’m seeing is actually people I think are going to like Taiwan, instead of going to back to the US. But yeah, I know people want to I just don’t know how realistic it is. Once you are trying to make more like 500 pieces. I don’t know how realistic that is.


Jonathan Bench  29:43 

And I suppose it would depend on thinking about 3d printing, right? Whether you have the type of product that you can utilize with, you know, a home or industrial size 3d printer, you know if you can set that up there. I can imagine that there will be industrial parks that will cater to that as the As that industry continues to mature, but that’s one piece of, of the components, right? I mean, if we’re talking about a board game, maybe you can make the meatballs, but you can’t make the board right. And so there’ll be there’ll be other components of course of that. But the interesting input,


Azhelle Wade  30:14 

Well, yeah, with the board game I think you can do it with the board games are actually different conversation, like board games are already manufactured in at least Canada and some are done in the US because like paper based goods, you can definitely get that done here. But the other concern is, if you’re creating something with a 3d printer isn’t going to pass testing because like one of the one of the basic tests I’m just thinking about is the drop test and like something 3d printed will not pass the drop test. So so that’s the other issue, like the quality of what you’re having made here in the US, you can’t really take shortcuts.


Jonathan Bench  30:47 

So we’re gonna leave the toys behind for a second because Fred and I understand that you are a salsa and bachata dancer and performer.


Azhelle Wade  30:55 



Jonathan Bench  30:56 

And I am also a lover of ballroom dance. My wife wrote me into it when we were dating 20 years ago. And it turns out, I love it. I am not particularly great at it, but I do enjoy it. So I’d love to hear more about about dancing, you know about your type of dancing you’re into for listeners who who don’t know this, who aren’t familiar with it. Why should they get into it? And in any, you know, favorite artists or songs that would help people get into these genres?


Azhelle Wade  31:26 

Hmm. Oh, okay. Well, I too, roped my significant other into dancing so good on your wife. But I yeah, I’ve been dancing salsa bachata, actually, I started after a car accident, I had back pain that wouldn’t go away. And then I started dancing and the back pain went away. So there’s another reason you start dancing. It also burns like 500 calories an hour. And I got real skinny real quick when I first started dancing. So another reason you should start dancing. But also, it’s really good for your brain and for memory. I love so I started with salsa. And I took classes and just kind of learned with friends. And then we would go out every Wednesday and dance. And then I learned bachata. And then I joined a bunch at the dance team. And I traveled all over the US and honestly, even the world we went to like Dr to perform. And I would also bring, I have a costume company on the side of all my other things, I would bring my costume company clothes and sell them at these dance events. And then I would dance at these dance events. And I mean, it’s a great way to just let off steam to meet people to feel good about yourself to feel good about your body and in control of your body. And for me, I had back pain, like from a car accident that just vanished once I started dancing and will come back if I stopped dancing for too long. So it’s just I mean, what I what the doctors have said is I’m probably just building up the muscles around where the injury is. So that’s what’s happening. But I mean, it’s fantastic. I think if you feel like you can’t do it, you could start with like, bachata, it’s very simple. And then you can just like ease your way into salsa, I never thought I would want to perform and even performing I get so freaked out every time I have to do it, I get very nervous I shake. It’s horrifying. I always like I feel like my throw up is terrible. And I won’t be well, I’m like, why did I do this, I don’t want to be here. And then I get out there. And I mess up. But it’s still great fun. And it’s you know, it’s it’s really nice to see the videos of yourself pushing your body to do amazing things. And I would recommend dance highly to anyone. It’s a great, great outlet.


Jonathan Bench  33:34 

So many subtext there. Don’t let a good opportunity go to waste, right? I mean, you’re at you’re going, I like going to comedy clubs. And I love it when when they announced also I’m selling t shirts, or I have other swag I’m trying to sell I mean that that’s a great opportunity. You the part of being a great entrepreneur is thinking, what else am I missing? Right? Where are the where is the slack in my line? And where can I add another product and other service and and really, you know, feel your whole your whole value chain in whatever you’re doing. Even if it’s something you’re doing just purely for fun or for the love of what you’re doing. There’s no harm in thinking creatively about how you can expand your business into into something else that makes sense.


Fred Rocafort  34:16 

Yeah, yeah, one of my best friends whom I met when I was living in China, he’s now back in the US. But for a while he was a Latin dance instructor and one of the cool things about about seeing him build up that business and and then sort of maintain it for many years was the transformative effect entering that entire world had on many of his students and keep in mind this is in in South China, you know, not not not Miami or a place in Europe, right? This this is a place where for a lot of his students, it was a big deal, you know, to be well, just exposing themselves to the culture and the music of other parts of the world to engaging in that particular kind of dancing right with a little bit more physical contact than, than then they’re accustomed to. And it was, it was really, really cool to see how there was that that effect that went beyond, you know, the the fitness component of it and the the social component, although that was an important part of it, but also just in terms of their self esteem, you know, just a way that his students began to feel more comfortable being with people from different countries, and then participating in these social gatherings that were a little bit different to what they were used to. So so it can be a real gateway to all sorts of growth beyond the actual technical expertise, always get to hear about that world.


Azhelle Wade  35:43 

I have to say, I love traveling internationally, and then dancing salsa with someone I can’t really talk to. It’s like, it’s this cool, unspoken language where we can have a connection, and we can communicate without communicating. It’s amazing. It’s so cool.


Fred Rocafort  36:02 

I’m sure there’s more of this now than then back in the day, I’m sure by now the resources are much greater. But I remember, this would have been at least a decade ago, I had a friend up in Beijing, who was the Beijing correspondent for some worldwide website that essentially served as a database, you know, for people who, you know, you’re you have a business trip lined up, you’re going to wherever, Bangkok or, you know, Johannesburg, whatever, like, Where can I go? Where are the places that have, you know, Latin dancing on which dates? And, and I was really surprised at how many, you know, the amount of information there and the fact that you know, even some random place where you would not expect again, not Miami, not not Paris, you know, you look up a place like Hong Kong, for example, and there would be something pretty much every night. So, so that was a real eye opener, I imagine that by now, there must be entire apps devoted to finding this. But yeah, just what you what you described, right? I mean, and this is something that, you know, my friend would always point out, if you go somewhere you, you find yourself alone and in a strange city. It’s a good way of doing something social meeting some people in a relatively safe and unhealthy context, right. I mean, yeah, you can always go to a bar, you can always do that sort of thing. But if you don’t know the city, right, you don’t know what you’re getting into. Whereas if the link is dancing, then you have a pretty good idea of the crowd that you’ll be running into, right. So it’s also a controlled way of just making the most of your, your international travel.


Jonathan Bench  37:44 

Azhelle, it’s been great having all the podcast, we absolutely have loved it. Learning more about the toy industry about dancing. It’s been a lot of fun. And we always love to end our podcast and with recommendations for our listeners, just something to expand their horizons a bit and and Fred’s in mind as well. So we’d like to know if you have any recommendations for us something you’ve read something you’ve watched something you listened to lately that you think is interesting, educational or whatever.


Azhelle Wade  38:13 

I I am a huge fan and supporter of Amy Porterfield Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I’ve learned everything I know about online marketing from this podcast. And yeah, it’s an incredible tool. It helped me start my business. So I would recommend it tenfold.


Jonathan Bench  38:35 

Fred, what do you have for us today?


Azhelle Wade  38:37 

My own recommendation today is the movie Dunkirk and the reason why I’m recommending that is just this morning, I started listening to a new podcast recommended by Dan Carlin, who’s one of the greatest podcasters out there in my in my opinion, you know, he he recommended this particular podcast on Twitter. And I began to listen to it this morning and I so far, great, but I don’t want to go ahead and make that recommendation until I’ve actually listened to it. But the topic of this particular podcast, you know, sort of got me thinking about different movies and including Dunkirk as I finished exercising I sort of switched from the from the podcast to the soundtrack you know, suddenly I felt like like listening to that but I thought about the movie a little bit. It’s just it’s just really well done. And might as well go ahead and make that my recommendation. If you haven’t seen the movie. It definitely loses a lot when you watch it at home as opposed to watching it in the in the big screen. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I The more I realized was just just really well done really, really hits the right notes. So yeah, Dunkirk What do I do, Jonathan?


Jonathan Bench  39:48 

I’m recommending something apropos our discussion about manufacturing. This is an article from a few months ago in the Utah business magazine called manufacturing costs are rising and behind this this innocuous title is great information for companies that are dealing with overseas manufacturers. This was written by a friend of mine, his name’s Jared Van Orden. And he is a foreign exchange expert works for a company in Salt Lake. And he writes this article talking about these currency fluctuations and how currency fluctuations really matter, especially when you have regular streams of payments that are going abroad. And what I learned from having lunches with him is that a lot of companies that are in foreign exchange, you know, banks can offer foreign exchange services, but they often charge a premium. So if you go to a boutique foreign exchange company, they will not only save you a couple of percentage points on on your currency exchanges, but they will also give you a free analysis, right? They will, they will pitch you on their services and tell you this is how we’re going to save you money. And some of them even have great software that will help you see see the savings on your own. So I was compelled, you know, I’m a creature of efficiency. And so if you can save even a couple of basis points, let alone a couple of percentage points on your international payments. It’s going to add up and these types of companies that have these boutique foreign exchange services can help you figure out the strategy but also execute on your on your strategy as well. So highly recommended this article will give you it’s not a long article, it will give you some good insights into why it matters. And I think it speaks for itself. manufacturing costs are rising. As yell before we end, we’d love for you to tell us where can our audience find your class? Where can they find your podcast?


Azhelle Wade  41:37 

Yes, if you’re interested in Toy Creators Academy, head over to to join the waitlist next class is in September. But if you want to just learn more about me, head over to Instagram and look for @thetoycoach. That’s where I hang out the most. And you’ll get linked to my website, which is the I’m the toy coach everywhere.


Fred Rocafort  42:00 

And the podcast. Is there a link to that at the website or?


Azhelle Wade  42:03 

Yeah, of course there’s a link to that at the website or just the toy coach podcast calm I bought all the domains. So.


Fred Rocafort  42:11 

That’s smart, that’s smart.


Jonathan Bench  42:15

Well, thank you again, we’ve loved having you and hope we can check in again later and hear more about what’s going on in the industry.


Azhelle Wade  42:20 

Yeah, sure thing. Take care guys talk soon.


Jonathan Bench  42:26 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmitt. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.


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