What Mom doesn’t love the 20 minutes of peace you get when your child is playing with a beloved toy? Tonight’s Meet a Mom, Kacey Kennedy is the creator of Sandy Beach Doll, the first ever doll made for the water and a new, fun take on the classic “pail and shovel” sand toy.
Kacey’s career always required an entrepreneurial spirit to build brands from the ground up and once she had children, her itch for a creative outlet allowed her to redesign and launch the Sandy Beach Doll, an idea conceived by her mother when she was a child and now redesigned for 21st-century play.
Kacey shares how this brilliant idea came about, what makes the Sandy Beach Doll your new must have summer toy, and her keys to balancing motherhood while running a business with her Mom and Sister.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally? Where do you live, and names/ages of kids, etc.?
When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I moved from the Upper East Side to Greenwich to start our family. I currently live in mid-country Greenwich with my husband, Buddy, and two daughters, Caroline (3) and Charlotte (20 months). Caroline attends First Presby Nursery School and Charlotte will be attending this September. I am the co-founder of Sandy Beach Doll, an innovative toy company for children.
Where do you live in Greenwich and what do you love about your neighborhood? What made you decide to move there/ how long have you been there?
We live in Mid-Country and moved here after visiting a few times in the fall and decided to stay. (My parents, sister and her husband also followed and moved here because they loved it so much as well!) It was an easy transition from the city as we found it has the perfect balance of urban and suburban life—it is close to the city but allows us the freedom to enjoy the beach in the summer and explore on the weekends.
For those of us who are not familiar, what is Sandy Beach Doll?
Sandy Beach Doll is the first ever doll made for the water and is a new, fun take on the classic “pail and shovel” sand toy. Sandy provides hours of fun, from filling her up with sand and water at the beach to playing with her in the bubble bath and everywhere in between! We recently launched the preorder on our website and will be shipping the products at the beginning of February 2023.
The original idea of Sandy was conceived by my mother when I was a child and has now been redesigned for 21st-century play. Sandy eliminates the logistical hassle of bringing a child’s favorite doll to the beach (Have you ever tried getting sand out of an American Girl doll’s hair? No thank you!). Inspired by my daughters, we designed Sandy Beach Doll in stylish muted bathing suits, matching flower sunglasses for the doll and the child, shovel, stickers, and waterproof beach tote for easy packing for all adventures.
Sandy is meant to make everyday moments more magical, and I’m proud to helm the company with my mom and sister—we’re a true family business! We love innovating in the beach/bath toy space because we know (and have personally experienced) how Sandy can bring joy to families.
Can you please share about your professional background and what led you to create Sandy Beach Doll?
I’ve worked across several industries in my career, but they all have one common thread: a required entrepreneurial spirit to build brands from the ground up. I started my career at Morgan Stanley. I later joined the family business, Brosnan Risk Consultants, to help grow it from a startup to a national security firm. I still work for the firm where I’m responsible for strategic development, brand, innovation, customer marketing, and media communications. I also handle the philanthropic arm, Brosnan Cares. Working here has given me a deep appreciation for building a business and branding.
After having my first daughter, I really felt an itch for a creative outlet for my love of art, fashion, and aesthetics. Being a mother also allowed me to have clarity about the importance of play and development in children. During Covid, I decided to relaunch the Sandy Beach Doll business when I saw my young daughter playing with her toys on the beach.
My mom designed an initial product years ago, but never fully launched it. Being a mother, I gained an appreciation for what 20 minutes of peace looked like while your child was playing. Whether it’s at the beach, in the pool, in the bath, at the playground, or on a play mat, the versatility and the durability of the doll pushed me to move forward with it. I then worked with a design studio to rebrand Sandy and set up an e-commerce website. In March 2021, we launched the website and spread awareness through social media. Sandy quickly became viral—the product sold out in a month! We were so amazed by the reaction we got from our community so we decided to find a producer and run with our idea.
It’s been very rewarding and exciting working with my mom and sister! While we’re all very creative thinkers, we have different backgrounds which makes working together successful. Plus, we all live in Greenwich, which makes it even more fun! I’m constantly creating, combining, and adapting in both roles and I love the challenges.
How is Sandy Beach Doll different than any other toy out there?
As I mentioned before, dragging regular dolls to the beach or tub is just out of the question—it’s a logistical nightmare. Sandy is made specifically for the beach, tub, playground or anywhere else where water play might be appropriate. She’s also aesthetically pleasing. A lot of toys out there are done in primary colors, and we wanted to do something different that really spoke to our core customer’s lifestyle. Sandy comes in two adorable and feminine bathing suits that will fit seamlessly into the modern family’s aesthetic. Additionally, she’s a water/sand play toy made with development in mind. Usually beach and bath toys are pails, cups and floats that have only one goal: to work on hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Sandy levels beach and bath play up because she’s usable for dramatic play, a key development in children. Montessori children are especially encouraged to engage in dramatic play. Sandy can’t be put in a box!
What do you find the most challenging and the most rewarding part of having your own company?
Building a brand is exciting but it’s also exhausting. For Sandy, it’s been scaling and getting our brand out there. We are a small, family-owned business and it takes a lot of manpower to do everything from sourcing to social media. I only have so many hours in the day, and I want to spend quality time with my family too.
Seeing Sandy on social media as she arrives in homes across the country is very rewarding. It is also very rewarding to be able to “work” with my daughters and use them in some of the campaigns. We get ideas for Sandy’s social media all the time from watching my girls play with her.
What’s next for your brand?
Our latest drop is only two months old, but we have big goals and aspirations. We are expanding accessories, hair and suit designs for Sandy and are thinking about building a male version of the doll for boys to play with. We hope to pop up in beach towns this summer to spread awareness. Our goal is to be the number one beach toy for kids and to have fun while we’re building an iconic brand.
How do you find a balance with motherhood and your job? Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there?
I don’t know if there is ever a perfect balance as a mother when it comes to work/career, and I suppose that as mothers we’re programmed to not feel balance anyway—there’s always guilt over where you are spending your time. What I’ve found that works is to dedicate time to each separately instead of trying to do both at the same time. When I’m working, I can focus solely on work. When I’m with my girls, I try not to take my phone out with me so that I can be fully present with them. It can’t be overstated that I have incredible support from my husband, Buddy.
What is your working mom mantra?
“Be a leader” is my working mom mantra—and that applies to both my business and my daughters. I of course want to do right by the business, but I also want to lead by example for my children. I want them to see that you can do hard things, and do them often at the same time! That you can have it all, but maybe not at the same exact moment every day. I want to lead by showing them that taking a chance is a scary but worthwhile endeavor, and I want them to really get the most out of their life by being healthy, happy people. It’s my job to lead them in the right direction to this goal.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for having me as a Greenwich Moms Meet a Mom! I feel so honored and lucky to be a part of such an amazing community. All the moms I have met so far in Greenwich have been welcoming and supportive. It feels good to have been accepted into a community like Greenwich so quickly.
The best way to purchase a Sandy Beach Doll is through the website or Instagram @sandybeachdoll. You can also email me at [email protected]
We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places locally to:
Grab coffee – CFCF on Greenwich Ave
Workout – Running after my two toddlers or SLT
Go on a date night – Le Penguin
Go out for a girls night – Eastend
Go out to dinner as a family – Terra or Elm Street Oyster House
Get your hair done – Davis Feliz in Greenwich or Camoro in Southport
Get your nails done – Posh Nails
Have fun as a family – Tod’s Point