Jane Wood is the founder of The Original Toy Corporation, or T.O.T Corp., an Ontario-based toy manufacturer, as well as the designer of the Gertie & Friends toy line, and the President and CEO of distributor Bug in a Rug Canada. She’s also a working mother and a competitive athlete. She spoke with The Edge: A Leader’s Magazine for our Winners’ Circle section about how she does it all. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
You’re the CEO of T.O.T Corp., a mother of four and a competitive runner who participates in Ironman triathlons. What is your secret to balancing it all?
I am not sure, to be honest. I act more in an advisory role to T.O.T now. I design the toys for them, and work on private-label creations for national chains. My kids come first. They are all now at the age where they need less of my time, and I think they prefer time without me.
I wish I had more time to train for my races. A lot of preparation should go into the training required for a full Ironman. My coach used to joke, “Are you on a real training program for this race, or are you on the two-weeks to Ironman Jane Wood program?” It sucks on race day, but life gets in the way and my training is the first thing to give to make space. But I will not eliminate it from my life, so I decided to race only half Ironman. It makes juggling all my daily tasks easier, and I’m still able to allocate six to eight hours of training per week.
One son is at USC in California. He doesn’t take much work, except we helped him drive his car from Ontario to LA… I worked on my phone for the whole 3,404 km!
Your products are unique and innovative. From organic merchandise for pregnant moms to Diaper Dude bags, it’s a pretty outside-the-box approach, with playful and funny product names. What has inspired you?
It was the fact that there were very few funky products available when I lived in England and had my four kids. I am inspired by people who have the moxie and gumption to get up and just do it. For a long time, I sold products these other people had created as they spotted a need. Now, I am the one creating the products.
When growing up, did you always dream of starting a business? If you were not an entrepreneur, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
I never thought I would have my own business. I did not have a clue [about] what I wanted to do. I was always good at sciences and math, so I thought being a doctor, like my dad, was a possibility. I always knew I was not a fan of bureaucracy and red tape, so it now makes sense that I don’t answer to many people, with the exception of the bank manager.
Shirley Graham | Editorial Assistant