Genius of Play Ambassador Spotlight: Klutz’ Stacy Lellos
March 23, 2021 | Stacy Lellos, president of Klutz, has a long history of working in both children’s publishing and toys, having held a variety of executive-level positions at companies such as Scholastic and Toys“R”Us. In her current role, she helps leverage the rich history of Klutz, a division of Scholastic, while driving innovation with new products that tap into the hottest youth trends and inspire creativity. Toy News Tuesday editors chatted with Lellos about her role as a Play Ambassador for The Toy Association’s Genius of Play initiative, and how she incorporates play into her daily routine.
Q1: Why was it important to you to become a Genius of Play Ambassador and what does play mean to you?
Lellos: It was important to me to become a Genius of Play Ambassador because I believe play is how kids begin to learn and grow. Play is powerful. At its best, it helps kids begin to grasp the importance of progress over perfection. It empowers them. It teaches them resilience.
I've spent my career supporting children: advocating and creating for, educating, encouraging, and supporting them. Along with my husband and three kids, it is the greatest passion of my life. The work The Genius of Play is doing is so important, and I’m honored to be involved.
Q2: What is your favorite toy and/or play memories?
Lellos: One of my favorite play memories is playing play the game Memory with my grandmother. She was absolutely, wonderfully terrible at it, and we would all laugh and laugh together as she turned over cards that were destined to not be a match.
Q3: Play benefits our emotional and physical wellbeing at any age, so what steps have you taken to make play a part of your daily routine both in and outside of work?
Lellos: When it comes to work, work IS play at Klutz. Every day we are playing with ideas and different materials. We are big on team scavenger hunts. During the pandemic they’ve become themed walks and Zoom sessions, and in the “before times,” we created scavenger hunts throughout our SoHo neighborhood in New York City. My team is amazing and fun, and they find ways to make me laugh every day.
Outside of work, as a mom of three, play is also an everyday occurrence and a big part of who we are as a family. We are fiercely competitive at H-O-R-S-E basketball and love to play corn hole, Spikeball, and soccer together. We are equally big board gamers – Clue, Rat-a-Tat Cat, Sleeping Queens, Codenames, and many others that were introduced to me by my friends at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) – and I’ve become a rabid pandemic puzzler. During the holidays, my sister also hosts Family Olympics. Yes, we are that family.
In addition, my husband recently built a Little Free Library for me, which I curate exclusively for kids. It brings me so much joy to share my love of reading with our young neighbors. I chalk-up our driveway with quotes from “featured reads” for the neighbors.
[Editor’s Note: The Little Free Library is nonprofit network of volunteer-led little libraries (book boxes) that offer 24/7 access to books to inspire a love of reading in communities around the world.]
Q4: How do you think we, as a society, can better incorporate play into our lives?
Lellos: We can honor that play is important and has value at every age. If we understood the benefits of play as outlined by The Genius of Play, then, I believe, play would be recognized for the critical value it has in ALL our lives. This is one of the reasons I thought it was so important to get involved with The Genius of Play.
Q5: What are some ways Klutz works to emphasize the importance of play, especially in uncertain times like the pandemic?
Lellos: On Wednesday, March 24, we’re hosting a Scholastic company-wide “Craft with Klutz” event for employees and their kids to enjoy together. We launched “Craft with Klutz” at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to help support parents, kids, and teachers with arts & crafts and activities they could do from home using common household objects. This included a series of video tutorials taught by our own staff and posted across our social channels, as well as downloadables on several Scholastic websites so we could reach the broadest possible audience. I’m so glad Klutz has been able to play even a small part in supporting families and educators during this unimaginably difficult time.
Stacy Lellos is the president of Klutz. To learn more about Klutz, as well as how the company is celebrating Craft Month and Women’s History Month this March, visit klutz.com and follow Klutz on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that spotlights the members of The Genius of Play Ambassadors program, who serve as play thought leaders within their own professional networks as well as key supporters and spokespersons for ongoing Genius of Play initiatives.