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Meet Susan Sofia-McIntire of Susan Sofia Development

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Sofia-McIntire.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Susan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have always enjoyed sewing with my mother and grandmother from the age of nine. My sewing teacher, Lucinda Crosby, became my mentor and in high school, the art department gave me the freedom to create “3-D fabric anything” through an independent study. At Massachusetts College of Art, I became fascinated with graphic arts and changed my major from Fashion Design to complete a BFA in Graphic Arts. I briefly worked for an environmental graphic company, Identita Inc. in Newburyport, MA and then on to Hasbro for catalog design and photo direction.

One evening I stitched a plush piece for a background shot, later to be noticed by Hasbro’s Playskool Division. “Who did you hire for this set?” and so the journey behind the “card key wall” began. This position required both my sewing and graphics education. Truly a divine opportunity. Is it really that fun to work for a toy company? YES. The movie, “Big” does not exaggerate the hysterical chaos of the toy and entertainment industry, it barely touches it!

My initiation with Safety and Quality Control was a prime example. The department hung a doll with my first modeled prototype to demonstrate it had a strangulation property (black tape x’s over the eyes). This was accompanied by a surprise Polaroid capturing the horror on my face upon seeing this spectacle! I was handed a Failure Document and congratulated with cheers and laughter for joining the team! The photo was added to their honorary bulletin board of previously shocked initiates.

Has it been a smooth road?
To date, I have had the honor of working with most of the major toy companies for one item or another. Just shy thirty years in the toy industry, the road is always challenging and I continuously reinvent how I present myself to keep competitive. I initially focused on model making and new concepts, moved on to development and cost reduction and now priorities are in engineering. In addition, I routinely show my own new concepts to select companies.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Sofia Development focuses to design, develop and engineer soft products for the toy and entertainment business.

Under this umbrella, I am proud of three main components. First being part of a creative team, The Green Kids Club, an award-winning Brand that teaches children environmental stewardship and is featured in my own hometown’s specialty store, The Dragon’s Nest, Newburyport, MA. The teaching properties of this brand have only begun.

Second, the design of the Fun’N Fruity Waterfilled Teether, my first engineering patent under Hasbro consisting of a protective edge that became a leader in how teethers were made going forward. Third, being recognized with a high integrity for exceptional service and outstanding innovative solutions.

I have a fantastic partner, Lynn Boudreau of CD Designs who prints my color correct fabrics. Her skills and products allow my prototypes to look flawless in presentation and manufacturing reference. Many of my clients earn awards and patents as a result of my design and engineering skills. For example, the Zen Swaddle by Nested Bean’s 2012 Innovation Award and Cribsie nominations.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The Boston area most certainly keeps me inspired with its diversity. In this particular business, children and parent needs are universal. Then, problem-solving with fibers is subliminal for me. Every day I note how something could function easier and record it with a sketch. I have a collection of tiny notebooks.

These sketches always seem to loop into my current or next project. If I’m short a solution I flip through one or two. This is something anyone can do; recall and re-sketch.

To close, my sewing started out pleasing all ages with fun plush. It has grown to design skills and fabric engineering that have the ability to teach, sooth, and protect children. Presently, Newburyport is committed to waterfront preservation. I’m thinking about what could I create for children to engage them with the Maritime Museum. Just toying with the idea….. (let me check a notebook).

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Reid McIntire Photography – Photo under headline
Shimmer & Shine license, Mermaid Grotto of Dreamland Fairies, The Green Kids Club- Mother’s Choice Awards, and Zen Swaddle by Nested Bean -2012 Innovation Award Winner

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