1. A brief summary of the book. This section should not be more than one page typed.In 1916 Ruth was born to Polish parents Jacob and Ira Moskowicz.
As Ida was too sick to take care of her tenth child, Ruth eldest sister Sarah and her husband Louie decided to raise her. Although she lived in a separate household Ruth always identified her parents as ‘Ma and Pa’ while she called her sister by her name. While growing up Ruth worked various stores Louie and Sarah owned; liquor store, lunch stand and pharmacy. In her University years Ruth believed to have met her soulmate but Sarah disapproved. In Sarah desperate attempts to separate the young teens, Ruth moved to California lived with other siblings and working for Paramount. Elliot decided to follow Ruth across the country.
Despite multiple attempts, Sarah tried to keep Ruth and Elliot apart they ended up getting married in 1938. Throughout the early years of their marriage, Ruth started her business adventure. Elliot discovered Plexiglas in an art class due to his curiosity he started making products out of the thermoplastic such as furniture and lamps. Seeing his creations Ruth decided to sell these products which introduced them into the marketplace. Their first business, Elzac was focused on Elliot and business partner Zachary making giftware and jewelry out of their garage. During this time Ruth and Elliot were expecting their first baby, Barbara who was born in 1941, a few years after they welcomed a son, Kenneth, in 1944. Due to the success of the first company, the Handler opened up a new business adventure with partner Matt calling the company Mattel, a combination of their names founded in 1945. Even though she had no formal background in business Ruth became the executive vice president of Mattel handling marketing and operations.
While Elliot, president of Mattel, dealt with designs and Matt, who did not last long at the company overseed manufacturing. Mattel first sold picture frames out of plexiglass to a local Austin Photography Studio. With restrictions of plastic during WWII Mattel then made picture frames out of wood. During a short visit to New York Ruth spotted a few toy shops and decided that was the next path Mattel should take. Soon after the introduction of toys came into play first selling ukulele, then burp guns, musical boxes and finally dolls. Ruth came up with a new ‘teenage’ doll that was not paper and looked like an adult. She was inspired by watching her own daughter is more interested in a grown-up doll rather than the paper one. Ruth designed this new doll and named it after her daughter, Barbie.
At first, no buyers liked Ruth’s idea of Barbie they believed she had too many adult features and it wouldn’t sell. After discovering a ‘Lili’ doll from Switzerland Ruth got inspired to tweak her doll. Soon Ruth was able to build and shape a new Barbie debuting her on a TV advertising in 1959 during popular shows commercial breaks. Due to the advertisement sales of Barbie spiked to a point that Mattel could not keep up with the demand which took them years to catch up. Mattel went public in 1960 and continue to make popular toys such as hot wheels, Chatty Cathy, the Ken doll and Barbie Dream House. 2.
What do you think the entrepreneur did wrong?Ruth had no background education on how to run a business. She dropped out of college and have no formal training or experience. Most of the time she was going out on the limp trying to sell her husband projects to companies. As they described some products in this book it seems as if they copied other companies idea i.e ‘Lili’ and Barbie. It was mentioned how Barbie ended up looking like ‘Lili’ after a few modifications.
Also, Martel created a music box after having a meeting with another entrepreneur. Another thing that Ruth did wrong was not supplying enough products to match the high demand. 3. What did the entrepreneur do right?During the WWII President Franklin Roosevelt placed a hold on sales of metal and plastic products due to scarce resources. Mattel was able to take this situation in locating other materials to produce products, as a result, they were able to make wooden picture frames rather than plastic. This sparked a whole new business venture and partnership with Austin Photography Studios. Unlike other competitors, during scarce times Mattel was able to use other supplies like wood, rubber, and paper to make the same product and produce new ones in order to keep sales growing.
Another thing that they did right was not investing in equipment with subcontractors, in the long run, this permitted their industry demands to be flexible. Along with investing in advertising which increased demands on toys and turns the consumer market from parents to children.4. How would you have done things if you were in their position? (No matter how muchthey achieved, I am sure there is something you would have done differently.)Towards the end of Ruth Handler career with Mattel, she was involved with legal issues. I think Mattel should have a team of accountants, financial experts and lawyers to deal with legal aspects of the company. I also would have patented all of the company’s invention so no other company can copy it, Ruth could have run into this problem when she first presents Barbie to the Butler Brothers. 5.
What economic principles (things you learned in this course) were used in this business?The change in taste and fashion of dolls (Barbie) caused an increase in demand it also increased the equilibrium quantity and equilibrium price. Seeing how supply was much lower than demand it is safe to say there was a shortage of goods, it took Mattel three years to catch up with consumer demand. Mattel works on a constant return to scale and is a monopolistically competitive business. 6. What did you get out of this book?I learned that Barbie was not a complete success when it first appeared on the market that many buyers thought that consumers will consider her to be too sexual.
Also that it is risky to purchase a large sum of products before there is a big demand for it Mattel could’ve lost revenue if Barbie was not a hit. Along with the fact that advertisement is good for a company, it is a good way of getting the word of a new product out and reaching different age groups.