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Local Entrepreneurs Tackle Toy Market

GiGGo to debut

character products

next year

Lake Success-based GiGGo Toys is preparing to enchant a generation of youngsters with a fresh take on children’s entertainment: that acceptance goes hand-in-hand when it comes to fun and friendship.

GiGGo Toys started up on Jan. 3, when it acquired a business representing a toy manufacturer in China. Neither GiGGo Toys’ CEO, Diana Brobmann of Floral Park Centre, nor Florence Palomo, the company’s head of public relations and customer service, had any previous experience in the toy industry. Brobmann was in licensing at the time, and Palomo was a researcher.

“I had been working with her in the licensing area, and we felt that we had a great idea...to grow this from a simple toy rep business to a toy and entertainment business,” Palomo said. “Instead of just being a representative of a factory, we are putting our name on the toys and making them ours.”

Palomo said that the duo had an idea engage children while teaching important life lessons, by creating characters modern children can relate to.

“We’ve got characters that appeal to the children of today. I don’t want to say they’re handicapped, but they have hardships, whether it’s having a birthmark or they’re being raised by a stepmom,” explained CFO Mark Ferraro.

Designed by a former DC Comics artist Scott Young, this cast of characters—including GiGGo the Elephant, Zora the Zebra and Chea the Cheetah—exist so far mainly as decals to be put on the company’s line battery-operated ride-on toys. The fledgling company’s website (www.giggotoys.com) provides some backstory on each of the characters and interactive games. But Palomo says it is their goal to tell the story of GiGGo the Elephant (and his friends) in a variety of forums, such as social media or even a TV show.

Palomo believes that GiGGo and his friends have a great chance to become break-out stars.

The GiGGo and Friends toys are slated to be available in early 2014, including at major chains like Toys R Us. In addition, GiGGo Toys plans to release licensed products, such as a battery-powered toy Indian-brand motorcycle. “We are hoping to grow this into other areas,” she said. “We feel our characters can easily grow into plush toys, toddler bedding, apparel, possibly even a TV show...with the rich story that we’ve developed for our characters, it can grow into so much.”

Without any kind of media presence on television or the movies, where children could become engaged in the characters’ stories, GiGGo Toys faces an uphill climb in the intensely competitive toy industry. Still, Ferraro and his business partners remain undaunted. Even with a recession still looming, Palomo said that she and Brobmann were confident in their abilities to make a successful venture into a new field. “GiGGo Toys Inc. is a fresh approach on the toy business by incorporating an entertainment factor that evolves and grows as the child does,” Brobman said.

In addition, the co-founders felt it was important to publicize the fact that GiGGo Toys is a woman-owned company.

“Here on Long Island, we feel that those attributes makes us unique,” she said. “We want to encourage other women to go out on their own, as well as encourage other businesses to remain here on Long Island. “Keeping businesses on Long Island is a priority for this company and we want to create jobs to help the economy.”

Palomo said GiGGo Toys intends to give back to the community by partnering with charities, such as PAWS, an animal rescue organization;.

“We feel that we have developed a great product, and a great business plan around it,” she said. “We are ready to do this.”

The remaining member of the GiGGo team is Chief Legal Officer Patrick Carroll of New Hyde Park.

For more information on GiGGo Toys, please visit www.giggotoys.com

Dave Gil de Rubio contributed to this story.