Notes from the Assembly Line

This Monday I woke up early, checked my email, and found out that our production completion was a week ahead of schedule (wahoo!). This meant I needed to head to the factory ASAP to do a final quality control inspection. I already had a flight booked to Hong Kong for the following week, so I checked online to see if I could get an earlier flight. Indeed, the only flight option that was even remotely affordable was leaving in 4 hours. So I booked the flight, threw some clothes in a bag and raced to the airport. And since I booked the flight that morning, it should have been no surprise that I was in the very last row of the airplane.

Luckily, the seat next to me was empty, but one seat over was this very strange looking man. Well, actually, I’m not sure what he looked like because he was wearing the blue airline blanket over his head and body like a hijab. As soon as the plane took off, the strange robed man proceeded to lay out across the entire row, his socks practically in my lap. Even after a good 45 minutes of the worst turbulence I’ve ever encountered, this man still would not move. How come he gets to lay down and not me? Don’t ladies typically get the right of way in this scenario? About halfway through the 14-hour flight, the man finally got up to use the restroom. Now was my chance! I sprawled out across the row, double blankets and pillows in place. He returned with a scowl, nudged me and said, “Hey, I was sleeping.” So I retorted, “Yeah, and now it’s MY turn!” He relented, and I lay there, unable to sleep, wondering how many hours had passed since my last dose of Dramamine.

Seven hours later, the plane landed at Hong Kong airport. I wandered through immigration like a zombie, and was proud of myself for figuring out how to take the train to my hotel instead of a taxi. The only thing on TV to watch in English was “Con Air,” so I watched that, trying not to think about how much my plane mate resembled “Cyrus the Virus.”

Dennis, my brilliant engineer contact from the factory, picked me up from my hotel the next morning to escort me to the final assembly check. The trip to the factory is long. A ninety minute cab ride, followed by long lines at the immigration portal, followed by another ninety minute cab ride. Sometimes I think Dennis pretends to know less English than he does to avoid my annoying small talk. Nevertheless, I ascertained that he’s been married for 10 years, no plans for kids, heading to Japan with his wife for Chinese New Years and likes photography. When we finally arrived at the factory, my stomach was growling. Dennis gave me a bottle of water. I wished it was a bottle of cookie dough.

IMG_1179IMG_1176IMG_1178IMG_1180We headed upstairs to check out the assembly line. And there is was: GoldieBlox. Thousands of wheels getting Velcro-glued on by hand. Enormous bags of dolphins, sloths and dogs, getting cleaned and inspected, one-by-one, and sealed into little plastic baggies. I stood there for a moment in an absolute daze, kind of like a euphoria mixed with disbelief. This is really happening. It was absolutely surreal.

Dennis brought me the first toy off the assembly line to inspect. I took all the pieces out of their baggies – they were all there and they all looked perfect. I flipped through the book – all the pages were there in the right order. Then, I started to play with the toy. I stuck an axle into the pegboard hole and…oh no. My heart sank. It was too tight. My mind started racing. I looked to Dennis in despair. He said, “Oh yes, board too tight.”

“WELL THEN WHAT DO WE DOOOOO??” I screamed (in my head). We had gone back and forth seven times to get this board right. I was in a state of shock. Then, Dennis brought out a bag of axles from his desk and told me to try one. It fit perfectly. Turns out, the axles differ in diameter slightly, and I had pulled a thick one. We measured the axles with calipers and found that they were all between 0.598mm – 0.605mm. Anything 0.603mm or greater would be too tight. Dennis assured me he could go back through all the axles and discard any that were 6.03mm or greater. Problem solved. Oh man am I happy I booked that earlier flight! PHEW!

By the time I was leaving the factory to go back to my hotel, all the workers were hanging outside, changed into their regular clothes. They got to leave work early that day for a big company dinner party. They all looked really happy. It made me feel good. I headed back to my hotel solo, via taxi and train, with hours to reflect on this amazing journey of GoldieBlox. We are off to a good start. Now, I wonder who’s gonna sit next to me on my plane ride back?

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The Scoop

Here’s a much-awaited update!

We wouldn’t be here without your support and wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes peek on our progress over the last couple of months. We’ve been working around the clock to get GoldieBlox perfect and hit our February deadline. We are so excited that we are on track; nothing short of a miracle!

It all started back in October. Once we started production, it was time to get all of the construction pieces working perfectly. The holes in the pegboard first came back a bit too big. And then they came back too small. We literally went through seven revisions of the board before they finally came back JUST right! This has been Goldie’s most complex task to date, and we’re confident that we’ve finally nailed it.

Amongst all the chaos and excitement here at GoldieBlox, Debbie flew all the way across the world and back in two days to visit our factory and make sure everything was going according to plan.

December was a very busy month as well! We never would have thought that having tools peeking out of the hoodie pockets would be impossible to mass-produce. We’d like to thank the handful of people that spent what seemed like endless hours ironing each decal on by hand – Sydney Malawer, Smiley Poswolsky, Stephanie Glasband & James Hague. It’s all worth it to us in the end to see you all in your Goldie gear! We shipped the first round out and we would love for you all to post pictures wearing them on our Facebook page.

Tshirt

We’ve also been working on small improvements to the toy and the packaging. We have a brand new ribbon (pictured below) that is much sturdier and Goldie-worthy. We’ve gone through mutliple press checks and paper samples to get everything in tip top shape to pass the ultimate test: your girls’ approval.

ribbon

It’s been amazing to watch our samples come to life in this way, and we couldn’t be happier with the vibrant colors and fun patterns that we used. Goldie and her friends are jumping off the pages, and we can’t wait to hear all about the adventures your girls have with them. Read on to see some top-secret pictures below.

Even though our Kickstarter campaign is over, we’ve still been getting a lot of buzz in the press! Here are a few amazing mentions of GoldieBlox that we are so happy to share:

“GoldieBlox, an alternative to toys more concerned with looks than brains.” – Boston Globe

“Move over Barbie, there is a new kid on the block.” – Forbes

“Debbie Sterling wants to re-engineer the world, one girl at a time.” – Huffington Post

That’s all for now. Next stop…your doorstep!

Love,

Team Goldie

packaging Snapshot

It Runs in the Family

Hello everyone!  I’d like to introduce myself as the newest member of the GoldieBlox team.  My name is Stephanie and my official role here at Goldie is “People Person” – something I’ll talk more about in a minute. First, I wanted to let you all in on a little secret…

I’m also Debbie’s little sister!

photo

Before I go forward I want to take you all back to the very beginning. Before GoldieBlox. Before Kickstarter. Before Stanford. And even before me.

Debbie was three when I decided to come along and by then she had already developed a pretty active imagination.  Outgoing and determined, she would put together short skits and created games that almost always included me. I didn’t mind. In fact, I thought it was cool having someone as creative as her to look up to.

But then, high school came along and suddenly Debbie was not just my big sister; she was also a senior and I was just a mere freshman.

Suddenly, it became clear that keeping up with my big sis would be a tall order – both literally and figuratively.

Back then; it felt like no matter what I did, Debbie would always be faster than me, smarter than me and more likely to amaze our parents!

Take this for an example: One day I discovered the white shark bite was discontinued from our favorite fruit snacks.  I told our parents I was going to write a letter to the company. Impressed, they encouraged me to do it and so I let my big sister in on the plan.

Well, what did Debbie do? She managed to get nearly our entire school to sign a petition to boycott the fruit snack if the flavor didn’t come back.  And you know what? It did. Along with a year’s supply and an apology from the company.

She was always one-upping me! But this time the consequences were sweet…for the both  of us.

Since then I realized Debbie and I didn’t have to be in competition.  In fact, I learned that when sisters work together as a team the results are even more fulfilling! (I mentioned the year’s supply of fruit snacks, right?)

So now here we are. Debbie has created this amazing new toy and has decided to include me.  And I’m thrilled.

I packed up my whole life and moved here to San Francisco to help my big sis and the GoldieBlox dream come true.

I’m so excited about this new adventure that I’ve been wearing my GoldieBlox hoodie since I started.  Seriously, it’s getting funky.

But it’s all for a good cause.  And if I can help get this toy in the hands of a child, and get them exploring spatial relations, so one day they can become the next great engineer, inventor, creator, designer or you-name-it…then that’s a job well done. Smelly sweatshirt and all.

These first two weeks have been, well, challenging. After finding a new place to live, locating a new favorite pizza place, navigating new roads and getting my puppy Riley all settled I was tuckered out. And, honestly, a little lost.

riley

Now, Debbie and the whole GoldieBlox team, evidently, don’t sleep so resting wasn’t really an option for me. I’ve had to jump right in and start figuring things out…like what it means to be a “People Person.”

Now this part involves you so, as Goldie says: Listen up!

I am your official go-to-girl. I am your troubleshooter, your question answerer, package tracker and all-around problem solver. I respond to emails, answer telephones, write blogs and provide you with Goldien customer service.

Think of me as Goldie’s tool belt. I’m here to make sure everyone and everything stays in place. So if you have a question, or concern, or idea, or comment let me know! I’m here.

-Stephanie, GoldieBlox “People Person”

Ps- From time to time I may come here to dish a little on my big sister Debbie and give you some behind the scenes GoldieBlox info only a sister can provide. Until next time… hammer on!

A Wild Ride.

We just went from 0 to 1000 MPH in 6 weeks. In that time GoldieBlox raised over $285,000 on Kickstarter, got published in over 70 publications and blogs including The Atlantic, The Guardian and Forbes, won three awards at the World Maker Faire in New York, pitched on the main stage in front of 2,000 people at SOCAP, was featured on a panel run at the New York General Assembly, among many other things that would make this blogpost just way too long.

In all of this our team learned a lot of lessons. Our greatest lesson? Never underestimate the power of people. When you are a company, a brand, you have to treat your early adopters like family. They are the ones who will be most forgiving as you go through growing pains, who will be your cheerleaders even if you slip up, and who will feel your highs and lows as if they’re their own highs and lows too.

So to our Goldie family, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We’re working hard to make sure that GoldieBlox leaves its mark on society, and we know you’re sittin’ shotgun with us.

SOCAP, Here we come!

Big news, everybody: I have been awarded a scholarship to attend the SOCAP Conference the first week in October! I will be one of the featured entrepreneurs — here is my profile. This is an awesome opportunity for me to explore the impact GoldieBlox can make and get to know other entrepreneurs who are also going for more than just profit.

SOCAP asked me many questions about myself and my drive to start GoldieBlox. It really got me thinking about the issue that we’re addressing, and why should people care. I mean, why does it matter that more girls get into engineering?

Well here’s the thing; engineers affect everything we do on a daily basis. The fact that you are all able to read this post right now on a computer/phone/ipad is thanks to a the collaborative effort of many generations of engineers. The shower you used this morning, the mode of transportation you took to work, the vending machine you got your mid-morning snack from, the satellite your text message to mom bounced off of; all built by engineers.

So engineers determine a lot of our daily activities. They are also 89% male. That means that men, who make up half the population, are making decisions for 100% of the population. We’re missing the perspective of the other 50%. Well, 51% to be exact.

In order to build our future responsibly, we need the female perspective in engineering. We need to give our girls the chance to contribute to their world. Unfortunately, as it stands, most girls lose interest in math and science by age 8. Math and science are the backbones of engineering. While boys have a plethora of science-loving role models to follow, from Sid the Science Kid to Bob the Builder to Thomas the Train to Jimmy Neutron, our girls have none. Goldie is here to give them one.

Will all girls who play with GoldieBlox grow up to be engineers? Probably not, but that’s not the point. Do all boys who play with Legos and watch Dexter’s Laboratory become engineers? No, but that’s because it’s a consequence of choice, not of ignorance. In order to get rid of the ignorance, we need to open up the world of engineering for our girls from a young age. If they then make a choice to become a world-traveling journalist, fantastic, but at least they will have made the choice. GoldieBlox gives our girls the ability to choose their own path and build their own future.

We launch in less than one week from today through Kickstarter. You can help your girls become the builders of their own destiny. By signing up to be a Goldie Ambassador here, you are given the tools to help spread the word and get Goldie in the hands of as many girls as humanly possible. Help us give choice to the next generation.

Prepping for LAUNCH

September 18th. Mark your calendars. GoldieBlox goes live to the world on Kickstarter.

In just a few short weeks, you’ll finally get to see the girl, the product, the idea, the glory, the mystery that is GoldieBlox! We promise not to disappoint.

In the meantime, bear with us as we secure our intellectual property and build our army of GoldieBlox fanatics who will spread the word to every corner of the earth.

Come join our troops. We’ll give you some basic training and all the tools you’ll need to help us with a little toy industry shakedown. Pink aisle at the toy store, BEWARE.

Filming Goldie

I first met Debbie when she was giving a speech at a local youth leadership camp that I was a junior crew for. Despite it being my responsibility to tell my students to listen, I was feeling the exhaustion of the 8 straight hours of presentations and activities and came into the speaking hall scheming of ways that I could sleep without any of my students or other leaders noticing. My schemes never were needed however, for just as Debbie began talking about her life and GoldieBlox I realized that even if I tried I could not pull myself away from Debbie’s inspiring and passionate presentation about GoldieBlox. As her talk came to a close I thought to myself, “Lilly, she is the one”. Now you might be thinking that the next thing I did was jump up on stage and propose..no no. I realized that day that Debbie was starting something absolutely incredible and her passion and personality would separate GoldieBlox from all the other great ideas that people have. So when I told myself that Debbie was “the one” I meant she was the Oprah to my Tyra, I dreamt that she could be the person I could look up to. So I got all the guts that I had (and sleep deprivation also probably helped) and I walked up to Debbie at the end of her speech, spilling out which seemed like a nervous jumble of words, “Hi..I’m Lilly..love GoldieBlox..summer..work..internship?” After a few moments of awkward silence in which Debbie tried to piece together what I was saying, a miracle happened, she gave me her email (which is equivalent, i’d say, to digits for a guy). And the rest is history.

So for the past couple of weeks I have been in bliss, working at one of the best companies in the world doing what I love best, making movies! At the start, Debbie assigned me to do a video series in which young girls (Goldie in a sense) would interview successful engineers who in their own way broke the “engineer stereotype”. We first set out for our search of the “perfect Goldie” we scoured Craigslist and  audition postings and even tried cold calling modeling agencies. After finding our  first Goldie we scheduled an interview with the magnificent Ian Bennett, a young CEO of a company called Simpirica Spine. Maya and I spent hours thinking of questions and planning out the segments of the video. I then put my own mental health at risk from the fatal fumes of Sharpie markers when I started making cue cards for our Goldie, a young girl, Johanna who to my excitement (and jealousy) had been apart of a Sundance movie. Finally on the day of the shoot, we all met on site at an abandoned office building in SOMA. I was sweating bullets at the thought of directing the shoot, the only people I had directed in the past were my funny bunch of friends who didn’t need much directing as the basis of most of my short films consisted of the usual teenage drama that occurred naturally. Once on set, however, the shoot seemed more of a party (i’m serious)  than a serious movie set; we were laughing, dancing around, even doing handstands and backflips (no joke). Currently i’m preparing myself to go into isolation so I can start and finish editing these videos by the end of the month. Looking forward to it (and I hope you guys are too!)
‘Til next time
Lilly Tahmasebi