I am Beth Moore, the owner of Street UX, Inc. An online product development shop. Right here in old Overland Park. We are new to the area, we opened our doors March 2015. Tech companies are popping up all over and we are excited to be part of the boom. How did I ever get the idea that I could do this? You won’t believe it.
Watching my mother’s magnificence and the impact of her HUGE career, I longed to be her. At a young age of 8, I set my goals to be a Creative Director by 40. Fortunately and unfortunately, I did that by 23. So now what? I’ve been a UX manager, and had many various titles depending on that companies dialog but mostly a Creative Director. I eventually landed comfortably into online product development.
I had always known what career path I was going to have, but I clearly needed a new goal, and that became, starting my own business.
My mother and father raised our family in South Plaza, two blocks from Loose Park.
I had a free life of bare feet, art projects, and picking up baby turtles out of the Loose Park Pond. My parents’ house was where the party was. We had a huge extended Hallmark family and we hung out often. They all sang, made crafts, garlands for the RenFest, but what I remember most was how my mother could make a toy. It was mesmerizing.
We grew up in a town full of creative companies and outlets. Nearby at 52nd and Oak, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures pays homage to Kansas City’s playful past. Here in the land of Hallmark—and its subsidiary, Crayola crayons—toys have long been creative fuel for the local economy. In fact, Hallmark licenses 7 of the 10 most popular toy products in the country.
Toy licensing wasn’t part of the business when artist Donna Moore (my mother) began working at Hallmark Cards. She worked on greeting cards, which is mostly what Hallmark sold in the 1960s. Donna was incredibly creative. She didn’t have much growing up, she grew up on 18th and Cleveland in Kansas City, but her talents had landed her a creative job with the card giant. She started at Hallmark as a flitter specialist, but as a young girl, she had a gift for making doll and toy costumes from scratch. So eventually Donna was moved into the creative realm and Hallmark had her making toys, like the Crazy Crop, a group of silly vegetables and fruit with arms and faces. People went crazy over the Crazy Crop.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a woman named Connie Boucher was quitting her job at a department store to pioneer a new art form. Beginning with coloring books and calendars, she started licensing merchandise with cartoon characters like Pooh and Snoopy. Her company, Determined Productions, Inc., launched in 1961 with the bestselling Peanuts book, Happiness is a Warm Puppy.
Around 1984, Connie came to visit Hallmark and happened to see Donna Moore’s one man show in three dimensional art, Donna was 41 at that time. That evening Donna received a call from Connie, and Instead of an interview, Donna was asked to make a set of Beatles (the band) dolls. The C levels at Determined were so impressed, and they sent the dolls to Ringo, Paul, George, and Yoko Ono for approval to sell in stores. Donna was immediately hired to make toys and quit Hallmark.
That’s how Donna Moore became the Worlds toymaker. For many years, she ran the plush lines in the Kansas City office for Determined Productions, traveling to San Francisco, New York, France, Japan, Korea, and all over the globe. She became one of Connie’s best friends. She would come home with stories that were so fun to hear. She is a fantastic story teller. She often broke through female vs. male boundaries all over the globe. She would prance into all male executive board rooms, who only allowed the woman to bring the snacks and coffee. She would insist the ladies stay in the room, and she would start sewing magically on her vintage, singer, foot pedal, sewing machine.
In 1993, she founded Market Works Design with fellow toymaker Suzie Cozad, located in Downtown Kansas City. Donna & Suzie made toys for companies such as Applause, Dakin, Mattel, the World Wildlife Fund and Crocodile Creek.
Today, many of Donna’s toys are world famous, including a series of dinosaurs that were featured in Jurassic Park, a T-Rex that was slashed by Freddie Kruger (this was shocking to see since we had no idea), and several toys which appeared in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Another toys she designed, the Calorie Galorie, was featured in the movie, Stripes, starring Bill Murray, and hung in the Kitchen. She is also responsible for the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper dolls, officially licensed by the band. Her stuffed giraffes, gorillas, pandas, and many other animals have helped raise awareness for the World Wildlife Fund. And her signature Jack-in-the-Box has graced the big screen in too many movies to count, and sits on every toy store shelf.
Children growing up in Kansas City may not realize Donna Moore, or my mom, was behind some of the plastic toys in their Wendy’s Kids Meals, or the stuffed versions of their favorite book characters like Snoopy, Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, Dr.Suess, Stella Luna, Babar, Richard Scary, and complete redesigns of Where the Wild Things Are, just to name a few. But this woman has made a tremendous contribution to our city and really to the world. Donna is retired now, but her creations continue to delight the young and the old. I mean, WOW!
The thing is, she didn’t want me to shout this to the moon, but I have no choice. She doesn’t realize how great she is.
Not to mention, she married her best friend and my dad, who happens to be one of the most wonderful men on the planet and also incredibly creative, plus a master builder. He was a humorous illustrator at Hallmark, where they met. So not only in business do I long to be wildly successful but also in love. Man that is a lot of pressure. Ha Ha!
At Street UX, Inc., we don’t make toys, and we are not in the business of love, but we are working on online apps for kids. At Street UX, Inc., we don’t make a jack-in-the-box, but we make websites, and we help other companies grow their business by designing complex systems built by brilliant programmers. We are designing our impact as we speak, and we will continue sharing our knowledge, and making great things for our clients. We hope you become one of our clients after you read this.
Being the daughter of such an amazing woman left me with such longing. I wanted to be big, like her. I wanted to leave my mark. Those are HUGE shoes to fill. I am not sure I ever will leave as big of an impact on this world as my mom. I will tell you that her resilience and drive is something I did receive, so I will make Street UX, Inc. as big as I can, and her toys will remain in my office until the end of my time, as a reminder of who I am and where I came from.
Donna Moore is one of the many urban artists that has shaped the creative history of our city and the globe, and she is my mom.
Beth Moore, Owner of Street UX, Inc.