Monday, November 26, 2012

Spotlight on Mom -- Tina Pang Mayer of PenPalGirls, Inc

PenPalGirls offers an upscale, collector’s quality line of 18 inch dolls and doll items with the intention of introducing girls to the flavor of global cultures. Tina's vision was to develop a toy for young girls everywhere to learn about their own culture and others throughout the world. She also loves letter writing and her website offers a pen pal (PPGPals) program where girls can ask specific dolls or girls with unique heritages and experiences just like them questions and receive personalized responses!

Pink Bow Dress, 18” Doll, Beautiful Doll, doll maker, doll items, doll makers, American Girl, Our Generation, Carpatina, Journey Girls

With all the doll retailers out there, I have to say that I was most impressed with PenPalGirls offering.  Not only can your daughter enjoy dressing up and adding fun accessories to these dolls, but they can also learn about cultures throughout the world, and make a new friend with the pen pal program.  I remember having a few pen pals growing up, in China, Spain and Japan, and learned so much about their way of life. As a child, I enjoyed writing to them and sharing photos of my family, hobbies, etc., and waiting to receive a response in the mail.  In the day and age where computers are making pen and paper obsolite when it comes to correspondence, PenPal Girls is helping to bring back the love of letter writing with their dolls and pen pal program.  "The PenPalGirls experience is inspired by real people and real lives—it is a celebration of girls from all around the world."

Head back here on Friday, when I will share more about PenPalGirls and their product offering, as well as more about the pen pal program with you.  But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom interview with creator of PenPalGirls, Tina Pang Mayer.  

Name:  Tina Pang Mayer
Company Name/Product/Service: PenPalGirls, Inc.
Company Location: Fremont, CA
Twitter Handle: @ PenPalGirls
Age of Company:  We are young and just getting started at 1 years old!
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: 
“Our greatest glory is not having never fallen, but rising every time we fall.”
“All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”—Walt Disney
Favorite Book: That’s a hard one since I’m an avid reader, but Gone with the Wind…I love the classics and Scarlett O’Hara is my heroine! I also enjoyed Steve Jobs. Often the road to greatness is not an easy one. I love complex characters as people have many layers to them.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I have two beautiful daughters, Pumpkin and Callie, who are 8 and 11 years old respectively. I am a working mom and absolutely love my job. My kids like to joke that work is my hobby, but that’s not true at all! We recently worked together on our Lego Haunted House for Halloween—it was quite wonderful. I also love to help young people with career counseling and seeing their talent blossom. It is very fulfilling to me and people have always helped me too!

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?
The idea for PenPalGirls was planted when my green-eyed daughter of Chinese, German, English, and Irish descent told me that she and I were not Chinese because we didn’t speak the language. I felt a great need to introduce her to my customs and traditions and started to think about how I could share my Chinese heritage through toys, culture, food, and traditions. The idea came to life during a trip back home from Disneyland and the American Girl store with another working mom and our kids (yes, we were making our little girls’ dreams come true). I started to think that it would be so much fun to have dolls from different countries! Not long after PenPalGirls was born and we all fell in love with the brand. You can read all about it here:

What is a typical work day like?

It starts with an IV injection of coffee to jump start me for an adrenaline rush filled day where I try to pack in every single little thing in my list. That’s the only thing that is predictable about my day! Everything else is a series of me multitasking a wide range of activities that range from making sure that my kids have their picture day forms filled and get to their afterschool activities on time to doing social media for PenPalGirls and making business connections to move PenPalGirls forward to leading conference calls for my executive level job at a healthcare and technology firm to getting everyone to the dinner table together at the end of the day. It feels like running sprints during the marathon. 
What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 
The biggest struggle has been finding the best resources at this stage of the game. It is very difficult to have all the resources that you need as a start-up.

What did you do in your past work life?
I spent a lot of time in the corporate world running businesses. I have launched brands and line extensions with senior level positions at companies such as JHI, Thomson, Yahoo, Coca-Cola Company, and Nike Inc.

What have been some of your major successes?
Getting our dolls Emma and Cady to look the way they did! It has been such a rollercoaster journey you have no idea where these dolls came from. We have had Halloween, ventriloquist, I have had a brow lift, and shrek versions of our doll—nothing like the beautiful Emma and Cady we have today! We went through doll plastic surgery, had to work with countless factories and sent countless dolls back and forth. You can see the evolution of our dolls here ( and I think you would agree!

What have been some of your major challenges?
Do you know what’s ironic? Our triumphs and struggles go hand in hand…our major challenges end up becoming our major successes. Getting our dolls to look the way they do was one of our major challenges. Other ones are finding the right people, resources, and timing, but when we are able to overcome them it is most fulfilling!

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
When my daughter Callie says, “I know you can do this…I believe in PenPalGirls!”. She is such an inspiration to me and my biggest cheerleader.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Lots of coffee! It is all about trying your best and giving it your all every single moment of the day. When I live well I work well and lead by example in both aspects of my life. My kids know I am a good person and they aspire to be a good person. This is true success.    
What is next for your business?
Getting to the next level and getting the word out about our brand—we are ready for it!
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 
Coffee, coffee, and coffee! Understand that the commitment is huge, but if you surround yourself with the right people, then their support will help you through tough times. And there is nothing more fulfilling then seeing the smile that your product brings to others’ faces.

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