This is a snipped from Margot Sandy’s inspiring and uplifting book, “If You Build It, LIFE Will Come”. We are honored to have Margot as an invaluable resource to our inventor community. This is the first chapter from her book that will definitely put a smile on your face!
The year was 1994, the scene was Harris Hill Elementary School in Penfield, NY where a girl in the midst of her “chub years” was selling cupcakes out of her locker to get more money for extra chips that day. That girl was me, Margot (aka the person on the back of this book / the author…stay with me people). Little did I know that this ploy for more delicious carbs was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I had developed a routine of grabbing extra desserts before leaving the house to refill the inventory in my 3rd grade locker. Consequently, this was only the first year of a four-year phase to be largely defined not by my savvy business skills, but by the extra baggage residing around my midsection. Some might have said it was baby weight, but when you can walk, talk and dispense baked goods out of your school locker, you’ve passed that crucial baby fat stage. I was short and stout with a face dominated by large colorful glasses, a signature look of feathery bangs, a clear plastic visor, a neatly tucked pink or purple turtleneck or a novelty t-shirt, and zipperless jeans that my mom purchased in the boys husky section at Walmart to fit my frame. I was the female version of Steve Urkel.
This incredibly awkward stage coincided with realizing what I wanted to do when I grew up. And Tom Hanks actually played a role in this life-path decision. Not sure how I got my hands on his movie Big, which was a box office hit 6 years prior. I was instantly struck by the film about a boy that plays a fortune teller machine and wishes that he’s “big” or grown up. His wish soon comes true and he ends up working at a toy company. The details are sketchy on how he lands this coveted position, but working at a toy company quickly became my dream. I had no idea how I was going to achieve this, I just knew (in my single digit years) that I wanted to play with toys for a living.
I was good at math and science and had a love of everything involving blocks. Whether it was Legos, Erector Sets, K’nex or Lincoln Logs, my heart belonged to building things. There were no Barbies in my play world. Of course, I had other toys, a few oddities like a collection of rubber snakes that I would occasionally leave around the house to scare my grandmother when she visited, a stuffed iguana, and an incredibly large teddy bear named Spanky. Though each toy had a fond memory attached to it, they were all side characters in my block-building world. With each passing year, my love of toys grew and began expanding beyond blocks to eccentric gadgets. I remember asking for that one special gift at Christmas time and reflecting back, it tended to be a random piece of electronic equipment, perhaps a toy cash register, a Polaroid camera, a mini recording device, even a Palm Pilot. Now when you think about it, why would a middle schooler need a Palm Pilot? There are no urgent meetings to schedule at age 12, no emails to check, no meeting minutes to dictate, but for some reason these gadgets spoke to me and I wanted to play with them and sometimes take them part.
With my dreams of working at a toy company fully taking off, I realized I needed some sort of professional title for myself. The professions Architect and Engineer entered my vocabulary without fully understanding what they meant. I knew my Uncle was an Engineer and I knew an Architect readily used a pencil and ruler (which I was fond of), but other than that I knew nothing of what it meant to have either of those jobs. The only thing I knew was that if I combined my love for toys with one of these professions, my future was set. Thus emerged my life-pursuant goal–to become a toy engineer.