Each month, ToyNews selects a toy industry bigwig to put through the paces with a series of prying, probing and some might say, impertinent, questions. This month: Skyrocket UK’s Amy Saunders
You’ve held various roles in the toy industry and I’ve always known you as Amy from Bandai… how did your career start?
It was an accident that I got into toys. In the mid ‘90s I got my first job at a local logistics company who turned out to be a specialist in toy distribution. At that time, they were working on behalf of the likes of Playmates, Toymaster, Vivid Imaginations and Bandai. Fortunately, I got to work with them all during my five years there.
Then, Bandai MD and industry legend Julian Boyers headhunted me to join his team. With Julian’s guidance and absolute passion for our industry, I worked my way up through the ranks loving each and every second of it.
What was it like taking on the role with Skyrocket? What does the move mean to you, and also for the positive changes we’re seeing in women leadership within the toy industry?
I was looking to make the next step up in my career, so when the opportunity to work with an innovative company like Skyrocket came along, I had to jump at it. I had worked with them in the past and found them to not only be forward thinking, but they also shared my ethics. Working hard but also having fun with a team full of personalities is the way I like to operate.
During my career I’ve seen many strong, inspirational woman within our industry in top jobs both on the retailer and supplier side. Our industry has moved with the times and it really shouldn’t be a surprise to see a woman heading up a business anymore.
How have you seen the toy industry evolve over your time within it? How would you like to lead either Skyrocket or the changes you are seeing in the space, from the front?
For me the biggest change over the last 20 years would be the High Street vs online. We know consumers still want in-store theatre and to be able to go in and touch and feel the product but we cannot now underestimate the power of online and the affect this has had.
I have also had to witness the closures of stores like Woolworths and Toys R Us, but our industry does continue to evolve and keeps innovating and coming up with new fads and trends. That’s why it was an easy decision for me to move to Skyrocket as they will move with the times to ensure we are on trend.
What would you say have been the greatest achievements of your career so far?
I have been extremely blessed and have worked on some top brands Bratz, Ben 10, Tamagotchi and my beloved Power Rangers which I was part of the team that kept the brand in the Top 10 in Action Figures in NPD for 20 consecutive years.
Have there been any standout memories that shaped your career in – or love for – the toy industry?
For me, the stand-out is always about the personalities and people in the industry. It really is the people that make it. Whether it be colleagues, fellow suppliers or buyers, I have made some incredible friends along the way. Industry friends who continually inspire, support and instil passion to continue to drive forward.