INTERVIEWS

Story of Isaac Larian, who left Iran with $ 700 in his pocket and became a billionaire with the Bratz

Dualisms, in any sphere, immediately make things more interesting. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Coppi and Bartali, plus all those who can come to mind depending on the passions of each. For those who are interested in the sector of dolls for girls, the duopoly is based on the names of Barbie and Bratz. On the first there is not much to add, probably the most famous doll there is, on the second one we must necessarily dwell. Not only because of what they have caused the market in terms of moving money, a lot, but also because the person who believed in them when no one seemed willing to do so is called Isaac Larian, according to Forbes he has assets of 1 billion dollars and its story begins in the slums of Iran.

Among the five children of a Jewish family living in pre-Khomeinist Tehran is Isaac, whose name seems to be easily linked to that of the biblical character. The father is a small merchant, as reported by CNN, who owns a fabric shop where from the age of nine even little Isaac is put to help as he himself recalls: “I’ve been working since I was nine. I went to school, then to the store, then I did my homework and slept. In reality, I didn’t have a childhood too much as a child. In the shop I was in charge of replenishing inventory and collecting payment from customers “. The only rare moments of escape were represented by the Hollywood films that Isaac stopped to observe in raptures, imagining with open eyes how incredible could be that world that seemed so distant and different from his daily life. To try to reach the American dream you need courage and a pinch of recklessness, ingredients that at 17 years of age in many teenagers certainly do not lack. Isaac manages to convince the family that there can be better life opportunities on the other side of the ocean, and so he leaves in 1971: in his pocket 753 dollars loaned by his uncles, in one hand a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, in the other. a suitcase and a yellow blanket given by his mother that Isaac still keeps today.

The impact is anything but simple, he always reminds CNN: “I was afraid. At 17 I was still a child, I didn’t speak English and I didn’t have a place to stay… I would have walked around the city crying hungry because I was almost without money and couldn’t find a job ”. Fortunately, thanks to a friend, he manages to find a place to stay and a small job in a coffee shop: dishwasher then, as Forbes recalls, waiter. Thanks to the hard-earned savings over the course of a year, Isaac manages to enroll part-time at Los Angeles Southwest College, before being able to find a place at California State University. Degree course in civil engineering and title obtained in 1978, even if its prospects, immediately, do not include the construction of bridges or similar works, but the search for entrepreneurial adventures. Meanwhile, one of his brothers joined him in Los Angeles, while any plans to return to Iran are discouraged by the ayatollahs’ revolution which marks a decisive crossroads in the history of former Persia. Isaac and his brother then remained in America starting their life as entrepreneurs with an import-export business for the shipment of brass garden ornaments from Asia: $ 30,000 in sales in 9 months.

Already in the 80s, however, changes were made, interest shifted to electronics and its components, with the two brothers who with their company became the first suppliers of Nintendo, achieving something like 21 million dollars in sales in the first year alone. of activity. The MGA, Micro Games of America, is not limited to just one area and remains open to possible solutions that can expand business. In the mid-90s the new turning point arrives, the one that allows the definitive leap in quality, told by both Forbes and CNN. A struggling inventor, Joe Trushus, in 1996 brings to Isaac’s eyes a project for a talking doll that had already been presented to Mattel and others without having been taken into consideration.

Isaac, on the other hand, decides not to let it escape and to try, the result is that in 1997 the Singing Bouncy Baby doll is the positive surprise of the market. Another essential name for the development of MGA in the doll sector is that of Carter Bryant, freelance designer, who in September 2000 presented the sketches for a doll with a big head, full lips and in general an uninhibited and almost provocative appearance. The opposite of Barbie, the undisputed master of the sector market. While Larian initially didn’t like this new doll, his daughter Jasmin is enthusiastic and convinces her father to invest in the project.

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