Sandra Martinez – C0-Founder In Play Showroom.
They say that when things are meant to be they are, and that everything happens for a reason. I agree.
My In Play chapter started long before I met Leslie and was surely meant to be. While working full time in a Sales & Marketing position in an automotive aftermarket company, I put myself through fashion school [FIDM] in Los Angeles. After finishing school I headed to Europe to “find myself and my so called calling” . What started as a three week vacation, turned into six months of travel, fun, memories, friendships and experiences in what immediately became one of the best chapters of my life! When I would call my folks to say I was staying longer, my dad always said, “Stay as long as you want and enjoy it because when you get back you better have a plan, and be ready to work hard!” When I finally decided to come back (when I ran out my hard earned savings) I pointed to the calendar and picked a random day to go home.
On that peculiar day I flew back from London only telling one friend to pick me up at the airport because I wanted to surprise my friends and family. I distinctly remember telling a nice British couple on my flight about my surreal trip, and then remembered my promise to have a plan as to what I was going to do for the rest of my life…
When I finally landed in sunny California, my ride was nowhere in sight! As I headed for the public phones (imagine that-no cell!) I immediately spotted a Canadian traveler (I could tell by the big maple leaf patch on his backpack) who was also stranded for several hours waiting for a friend. After several calls, I finally located my brother and coordinated a pick up. By this time the Canadian and I had become friends so I naturally offered him a ride to his destination. Long story short, I ended up driving him to his friend Barbara’s place and had no idea who she was, and didn’t bother asking until I pulled up to the beautiful home. He casually described her as a super cool chick who had great parties and owned some sort of children’s fashion company. What he failed to mention (I later discovered) was that his friend Barbara was the owner/designer of the legendary children’s collection Monkey Wear and a beautiful person with a great big heart.
I remember her opening the door thanking me and saying she couldn’t believe I picked up a perfect stranger and drove him to her place! (In hindsight, what was I thinking?!) She promptly asked how she could ever repay me and I simply responded, “I would love a job”. A couple of hours later, Barbara introduced me to Leslie and Leslie introduced me to In Play.
Leslie has been and continues to be a great friend and mentor and I am beyond grateful that our paths came to cross. After several amazing years at In Play, with her support, I eventually moved on to launch and develop the Classic Baby children’s collection for American Apparel. This was yet another unforgettable and incredible experience in my career. Some years later, Leslie was off to grow her family even more and asked me to come back to In Play. With the help and support from Leslie, my family and friends, I am able to carry on the In Play legacy and continue to launch some of the most innovative brands in the children’s industry. I am grateful each day that I am able to work with some of the most creative, progressive, and hardworking people in this industry; from our brands, to our retailers, to my very own team.