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Sunday, Mar 3, 2024

What Kids Want

Disney Princess golf sets, SpongeBob Square Pants Frisbees and Spiderman sand buckets. They’re simple toys — and if you ask Steven and Jordan Kort — those are the best kind. The brothers launched the Northridge-based What Kids Want in 1999, and have found their niche in manufacturing and distributing licensed games and sidewalk toys. “Toys are a fashion business,” Steven Kort said, “but we’re socks and underwear.” The company’s philosophy of sticking to the basics, combined with 25 years in the business, has been its ticket to success. What began as a girls dress-up line has expanded to a wide range of products and a series of successful licenses with Disney, Marvel and Nickelodeon. What Kids Want toys are sold nationwide at top discount stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Dollar Tree and in more than 30 countries. The company has seen steady increases in revenue each year, Jordan Kort said, though he declined to provide financial information. The toy industry is a fickle business, and the company has had to grapple with challenges such as rising costs and children growing out of certain toys at a younger age. Not to be deterred, What Kids Want continues to pursue the age 2-8 category, a market which allows the company to expand in various directions. It also allows them to cater to the latest trends dominating the industry. “The beauty of our diverse product line is we are able to satisfy the needs in a number of categories simultaneously,” Steven Kort said. “It’s a good position to be in.” Caroline MacDaniels, director of licensing and product development at What Kids Want, said all of its licensors approach consumers in a different manner, requiring the company to do the same in its product development. From Disney’s storytelling format to Marvel’s movie-driven content, licensing brands rely on the creative staff at What Kids Want to develop products that align with their vision. “It’s a collaborative effort,” MacDaniels said. “They trust us to do it correctly.” Sometimes this means taking work home with them. “We are testing constantly and often,” Jordan Kort said. “A number of our associates have young children. So they take the toys home and to school and give them to their kids.”

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