Genna Rosenberg is the executive vice president, marketing, communications and business development for Imperial Toy, a leading maker of licensed and non-licensed kids’ bubbles, seasonal products, toys and novelties. Rosenberg also acts as an ambassador to some of the world's most widely known licensed brands from power house IP holders, including Disney, Hasbro, Mattel, Sanrio, MGA, HIT Entertainment, Nickelodeon and more. Rosenberg has a personal passion for philanthropy and serves on the Board of Directors for Women in Toys, the Toy Industry Foundation and Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.
Richard: You have a big event coming up during Toy Fair. Can you tell us about it?
Genna: The 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing and Entertainment is a Women in Toys event being held this weekend. This year, we will honor more than 50 of the most influential and impactful women business leaders in toys, licensing and children's entertainment. This will be a totally new event as my co-chair Ashley Mady from Brandberry and I are really switching things up this year.We have an all-new venue, The Light House at Pier 60, which has stunning floor to ceiling windows overlooking the New York skyline, a gourmet menu by famed NY caterer Abigail Kirsch, entertainment by the fabulous Champian Fulton, a valuable silent auction and more for our guests. The response has been amazing, and we've almost tripled our attendees for this year already. People can still buy tickets at the womenintoys.com website.
Richard: Can you tell our readers a little about Women In Toys, and where do you see WIT going under your leadership?
Genna: Women in Toys is a member organization and a powerful networking tool for both men and women. WIT provides social and informative events that give folks at all levels a place to learn about new trends, and to network with potential new business partners. We also seek out ways to recognize the accomplishments of people who are making their mark on toys, licensing or the entertainment industry, as we do through our Wonder Women Awards. The Women in Toys Foundation provides scholarships for future toy industry leaders; young women who are studying toy design at colleges around the world. We have WIT chapters all over the world, including the US, Canada, Scandinavia, even Israel, and this powerful network helps facilitate collaboration and business amongst our wide membership base. From toymakers to filmmakers, from branding or ad agencies to design studios, from veteran entrepreneurs and rainmakers to rising stars of all types, we are actively working to engage women who "play" in all areas of toys, licensing and entertainment. I believe WIT and networking opportunities in general are what you make of them. I have put in the time to attend events, have enjoyed every minute of them, and have cultivated some amazing relationships as a result. As an organization, we are looking to engage more people of every age and level, however, we know that powerhouse young people are the future leaders of our industry and will take WIT to new heights.
Richard: There are a number of powerful women in toy industry leadership positions. You are known as a dynamic leader in the toy industry. So, some might ask the question: Why do we need an organization in the toy industry that is for women. How might you answer that?
Genna: I agree that there are amazing women in powerful places in the toy industry. Many of the Wonder Women we have recognized over the years are among them… For example, Lisa Harnish from Toys "R" Us and Laura Phillips from Walmart were both recognized in the past as Wonder Women in Retailing and they certainly wield great power at their respective toy retailers. Shirley Price is COO of Funrise, and the list goes on. While I have been fortunate in my personal career path to have advanced to senior positions, there is still a glass ceiling that many women find themselves pushed up against. I am in a fantastic place with an extremely supportive management team at Imperial Toy, but I have often been the only senior woman in the room for most of my career. There is an enormous arsenal of talented women in this industry, and at WIT, we are working to create a forum to meet, work together and make things happen that might not have if our dynamic members had not met. I have had some truly BIG ideas come out of meetings and new relationships I've cultivated through WIT, which have had a powerful impact on me personally and have been extremely positive for my company Imperial Toy overall.
Richard: Lastly, was there a woman that either mentored or encouraged you to be who you are today?
Genna: Several strong women in my life have impacted the person I am today. My first real boss and friend Kathi Sharpe-Ross from The Sharpe Alliance hired me straight out of University of Maryland and entrusted me to help grow her business. When I started at Sharpe PR & Marketing we had seven clients and an intern, and she was five months pregnant. It was sink or swim, and together we made it happen! When I left almost four years later, we had 15 clients and about five full-time employees. It was a fantastic experience working with everyone from Coca-Cola and The Leukemia Society, to my first experiences with JAKKS Pacific, Tomy Toy, and even my current employer Imperial Toy was a Sharpe client back then. My 10th grade teacher from Mahwah High School in New Jersey, Maria Benjamin, told me I should go into Public Relations, and I sincerely believe that had a huge impact on my career path. She saw something in my writing and communication skills at 15 that set things in motion for me, and I actually wrote her a few years ago to let her know and to thank her. Also, my dear friend Jennifer Richmond, who had the foresight to bring me into JAKKS Pacific, where I really spread my wings in this industry and we both pushed up against that glass ceiling with both hands, both feet and anything else we could push with to break through. After more than a decade of making our marks, we each left JAKKS in the past year for new adventures. I embarked on an exciting new path at Imperial. Through networking and cultivating her personal relationships, Jennifer has quickly grown her business, Richmond Management Group, into a powerhouse resource for licensing, brand building, IP legal work and more. This year, I nominated Jennifer as a Wonder Woman in the Licensing Agent category. It all comes full circle.