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Ruth Handler


While watching her young daughter, Barbara with her friends playing with paper dolls, She realized that they need a 3-D toy with breasts! Ruth Handler, now Co-owner of Mattel and the inventor of Barbie doll became one of the most inspiring women entrepreneurs of all times She was just Elliot’s wife (One of the Mattel’s co-founders). Mattel was first founded by Harold Matson and Elliot Handler, They combine the first letters of their first & last names “MAT” in Matson & “ELL” in Elliot; to get Mattel. The company was first specialized in making picture frames and then dollhouse furniture from picture frame scraps. Unfortunately, The company began to fail, forcing Matson to sell out his partnership to Handler, Then Handler’s wife showed up and joined him as a co-owner. It was 1956 when she got the idea of making a 3-D doll, Mattel designers had their doubts to make such a doll. Yet Her idea was glowing more and more especially after seeing her daughter Barbara playing with her friends, she realized that girls her daughter’s age used their imagination with paper dolls creating different scenarios of adulthood ranging from high school girls to working professionals imagining them as college students, cheerleaders, a doctor, a lawyer, etc. She convinced the designers with her idea, making them believe that doll will be the “Ideal” woman, She named it “Barbie” according to her daughter nickname! In 1959, Barbie was ready to hit the stores, but because all the retailers never seen a doll like it before,and since It was completely unlike the other children toys they used to sell, so they refused to take it! Handler didn’t give up yet, she made TV ads presenting Barbie as a real person with children, and here it was only 3 months from publishing the ad, Barbie was all over the market selling at a rate of 20,000 Barbie per week! With on going market evolution And success landing Mattel on the Fortune 500. Only within five years of launching Barbie. Over the next few years, The whole company witnessed the age of glory & popularity, The entire industry was all around Barbie, Designers continued their work creating new clothes and accessories for Barbie that reflected day’s fashion. After a while Barbie had her own dream house, a car, a plane, a yacht, dozens of other accessories. Then the designers took it to another level making Barbie more social so they started creating tea parties, pool parties and other outings hosting "friends" of Barbie which included dolls named Midge, Skipper and Christie. Barbie even got her own boyfriend, Ken, named after Handler's son. In 1999, After 4 decades of barbie’s production, Handler's barbie became the bestselling fashion doll in the global market, with worldwide annual sales topping $1.9 billion. On Barbie’s 40 birthday, Handler was asked if she was surprised by that huge success. She quoted; “She had faith that it would be a great toy. But I never thought that any toy could ever last this long or grow this big”. #businessitaWE_story

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