I am a Step2 Ambassador and this trip was paid for by Step2. All opinions are my own.
Being a blogger has brought me a lot of great travel opportunities over the past few years, but none so amazing as the trip I just took to visit the Step2 headquarters. As a Step2 Ambassador, they flew me and five other bloggers out to Cleveland, Ohio for three fabulous days of learning, toy reveals, amazing food and a whole lot of fun! We got sit downs with the CEO, the Marketing team, had a VIP tour of the manufacturing facility, checked out brand new product concepts before they hit the market, and even had a fun photoshoot with their resident photographer! Each and every member of this company that we met was so genuinely interested in us that it was a little humbling. They knew us, they knew our blogs and what we did, and what we had to say really mattered to them. Read on for a recap of my trip! (Apologies for image quality in some of the photos, some are from my phone but most are from my actual camera.)
I loved meeting my fellow ambassadors – I adore each of their blogs so it was a real treat to get to spend this trip with them! Here they are (from left to right on the photo). Janessa from Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Vanessa from See Vanessa Craft, me, Lindsey from So Easy Being Green, James from The Rock Father and Ruth from Viva Veltoro.
Once I got off the plane there was a car waiting to take me to the amazing Renaissance hotel in downtown Cleveland where we were all staying, and let me tell you, this place was nice. I’m talking luxury. Seriously, this was just the lobby:
My room? *Heaven*. I got probably the best sleep ever. Once I was all settled in everyone met in the lobby for a short walk down the street to the super trendy Lola restaurant in the most adorable little side street. Conversation was great and we all started to get to know one another. Now, if you know me in real life you know that I’m not one to chit chat. But you know what? I felt like I belonged there, I joined in the conversations and felt like I was talking to old friends. After dinner we walked back to the hotel, but not before we all snapped a few photos!
The second day was super busy! After a fabulous breakfast at a cute vegan restaurant beside the hotel, we headed out to the Step2 headquarters to spend the day checking out products, touring the facility and sitting in on meetings with the employees. From the minute we walked in we were greeted with friendly faces and people that truly cared that we were there.
When we walked into the building (being the bloggers we are) we all whipped out our cameras and started taking photos – they had some great products out on display in the lobby and their showroom. Here are just a few of my favorite toys that I saw.
Judah loves Thomas The Tank Engine, and they have a great collection of Thomas products so I started with those.
The Up & Down coaster is perfect for littles who love ride-ons but want a little more thrill. And check out this Toys R’ Us exclusive bed set – how cute is that?
They also have a huge variety of kitchens. No matter what size/colors/price point you are looking for they have one for you! They had five different kitchens on display, and I got some close ups of some really great features of a few of them. How cute is this art display?
See this little stove top? It actually simulates cooking sounds AND makes the balls in this orange container go crazy when you put it on the burner. How cool is that?
Another great new toy that they just came out with is the 2-in1 Fort F-150 Raptor with an optional push bar and real working lights. We are going to be getting this baby and I can’t wait to share it with you!
So after we went around checking out all the great toys on our own, we donned safety glasses and got to tour the manufacturing plant.
We couldn’t take any photos in there, but I will just say WOW. A ton of work and care go into making each and every piece, and everything they offer is made right there in their own facility. How’s that for American made, eh? They also take safety very seriously, conducting exhaustive safety tests and trials which makes me feel great about letting my kids play with their toys.
After the tour, we sat down for a working lunch with the CEO and then the marketing team to talk about Step2’s history, what they are working on right now and the future. Did you know that besides toys they also offer a fabulous line of outdoor/home/garden products? Well, they do! They also showed us drawings of products that are still in the planning stages, and oh.my.gosh. I am SO super excited for these to move to production! (Seriously, I’m counting the days.)
We also got to visit the R&D department where they make all their models and really bring those concept drawings to life. The guy we met there was super passionate about what he does, and the care they take to make sure every detail is brought to life is just amazing! After that we all had another fabulous meal with the team and went back to the hotel to rest up for our last day in Ohio.
The next day we got to take a little walk downtown and then headed out to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. I am a HUGE music fan, so this was amazing! I am going to leave this part for another post, but all in all I loved checking out all the exhibits from music’s greatest.
After the museum we had a quick lunch and then headed to the airport to go home. I feel very fortunate that I was able to be part of something so amazing, and I left with a renewed sense of why I love working with great companies like Step2. They treated us like part of the team, they respected each and every one of our voices and that just goes to show that they DO think everyday moms and dads are important. That our needs and opinions matter. I can’t thank them enough for showing me a great time, making me feel like I belonged and giving me SUCH an amazing experience! I loved meeting my fellow bloggers and each and every one of the great people that make up the Step2 team!