Azhelle (prounounced Ah-jh-elle) Wade is a toymaker. Yep, you read that correctly. She gets to play with toys for work, and honestly, she’s living a life that I would have loved to know existed back in my heyday. You can find her on her podcast Making It In The Toy Industry and on her site The Toy Coach. Here’s what you should know about this toy trailblazer and how she’s walking Black History.
Azhelle Wade | The Toy Coach
I was introduced to the story of Azhelle by my best friend Lyra and I’m happy that this Black History Month I’ve been able to learn more facts about the interesting folks that exist in this world at the same time that I do. With play being something that so many Black children don’t get to do as freely as other kids in their age group, it’s magnificent to see an adult totally embracing the act of play and giving permission to others to do the same.
Azhelle’s name may stop you in your tracks, and that’s because it was meant to. Named by her older sister (shout out to older siblings actively participating in naming THEIR siblings,) she said that her sister handcrafted the name to sound French when it was said. I imagine giving her baby sister the perfect opener when interacting with people.
She got involved in her career as a toymaker because of her love of teaching kids. And like so many of us with siblings, she forced her baby brother to attend her one-student school and taught him all the good he needed to know.
She was able to dabble in the joy of creating when she ventured into Display and Exhibition Design with a focus on children’s exhibitions. Eventually, she was led by a teacher who noticed her love for displays that incorporated play, and she discovered the Toy Design Program at The Fashion Institute of Technology. What a journey, right?!
In September 2020 she launched The Creators Academy – a toy course designed to help aspiring toy inventors and entrepreneurs develop and sell their ideas. So, if you’re in the market to create toys and a life of PLAY for future generations, it would be a great idea for you to connect with her.