New activity sets let kids color, build and play
October 2008, Acting Out celebrated its fifth anniversary. Founded by Anna Hazard and Andrea Nasstrom, they are the originator of musical dress-up. Two moms’ who were inspired by their children’s love for dancing in their dress-up. Acting Out has won over 14 national toy awards, including three Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum awards. Additionally, they have been featured on The View, Today Show, Good Morning America and Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
All the skirts and dresses in the Acting Out line feature music. Enormous amounts of research have gone into developing a superior quality music device. Among the music offerings are Hokey Pokey, Can Can, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Blue Danube and You are my Sunshine. Music device is hidden within an interior front pocket. Press on for music and it continues with motion.
Additionally, Acting Out products include finished waistbands that provide itch free comfort and allow for easy dressing. Batteries are always included and are easily replaceable.
This is our story:
Acting Out began five years ago as an "ah ha" idea while watching our "princess" girls dancing around in their dress-up. Why not add music to the skirts? Anna ever the dreamer and idea person forged ahead with turning the dream into reality. At the time, Andrea was winding down her career as the Director of New Business for a musical instrument company. While commuting to work, Anna would call to discuss her idea of the day. Valuing Andrea's opinion, Anna knew that Andrea would be truthful about each invention and when Andrea loved the musical dress-up idea it was "game on". Anna was extremely persistent in asking Andrea to be her partner. She knew without Andrea this idea could only go so far. Well one month later, Andrea gave into Anna's persuasion and came on as a full partner and has never looked back.
Turning the idea into reality involved sourcing manufacturers in China. Andrea will never forget the day; Anna wrote that $15,000 check against her personal line of credit for the first order. We had never met our skirt manufacturer. He was sourced over the Internet and all communication was via email and one phone conversation. This was a huge amount of money for her and her family but it sealed the deal of our commitment of turning this from an "expensive hobby into a profitable business".
When Acting Out began Anna was working part-time as a hairdresser. It was tricky business, maintaining a career, being a mom and starting a business. We have made many mistakes along the way. One of the reasons our partnership works is we both buoy each other up when one person may be down. We never dwell on the mistakes and do our best to learn from them (and hopefully not repeat them) and most of all have fun!!!!
We put in crazy hours. Anna's the morning person and Andrea's the night owl. We are very different personalities. Anna's the "free thinker", creative and shoot for the stars. Andrea is more of the businessperson; level headed and "devils advocate". We respect each other’s personalities and know we could not have gone this far if it wasn't for each other’s unique personalities.
Andrea and Anna are both NJ natives and residents. Andrea resides in Ocean Township NJ and Anna in Wall Twp. Andrea has two daughters Haley (11) and Anja (7). Anna has three children Max (10), Carolyn (8) and Ava (5).
In the beginning, we sold our products through craft shows and out of the back of the car. By December of that year (after only two months of business) we were in 100 accounts. Today we are in almost 1,000 stores, six countries and major retailers such as Target online, Costco.com, QVC, Toys r Us online and Hearthsong, Highlights, Young Explorers, Toys to Grow on and Sensational Beginnings.
Among our achievements:
- Guest hosts on HSN and QVC
- Featured on The View – Mom Inventors
- Today Show
- Good Morning America & GMA weekend edition
- Family Fun Magazine Toy of the Year Finalist 2005
- Recipient 14 national toy awards including finalist in Family Fun Toy of the Year and three “Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum awards
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