Tag Archives: Lyla Tov Monsters

Astoria 8-year-old wins young inventor award for monster toy line

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Black family

For one Astoria 8-year-old, monsters aren’t scary. Instead, they have helped her to accomplish more than most kids her age.

Lyla Black is the founder of Lyla Tov Monsters – plushy, handmade toys that are the “guardians of a good night’s sleep” – and on Nov. 21 she was awarded the Young Inventor of the Year at the 7th Annual Toy & Game Inventor Awards in Chicago, Illinois.

“We were hopeful but had no idea the outcome,” said Erin Black, Lyla’s mother. “We were surprised when they called her name.”

The Lyla Tov Monsters (a play on Hebrew words that mean “good night”) are inspired by Lyla’s original doll, which she made at age 3 as a gift for her father, Eric. The toys are made by Lyla and her parents and siblings.

The husband and wife team has been making the toys out of their Astoria home since 2009, bringing together 30 years of experience in children’s media. Erin is an Emmy Award-winning costume designer for her work on “Sesame Street” and Eric has worked for the Jim Henson Company and Scholastic Media.

“It was a very fun and kind of an overwhelming experience for us,” said Erin. “[The award] was really rewarding because it’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot of fun and it’s been a great family adventure. We’ve both enjoyed giving vision to our daughter’s idea.”

The family grew the business through word of mouth, first starting to sell at local craft fairs and then opening their online store at www.lylatov.com.

Since starting, the business has sold thousands of dolls, and the monsters are now carried in such local shops as Tiny You in Sunnyside and Long Island City and Raising Astoria in Astoria. The toys are also at The Jewish Museum gift shop in Manhattan.

For the Annual Toy & Game Inventor Awards, Lyla was accompanied by her mother and grandmother. When her name was called as the winner of the Young Inventor of the Year the usual “shy” 8-year-old marched up on stage and looked to the audience of more than 300 adults and delivered her acceptance speech, said Erin.

According to Lyla’s parents, the award gave the affirmation that others regard Lyla’s creative vision as highly as they do.

“I was surprised,” said Lyla about hearing her name be called for the award. “I was a little scared. I was excited too.”


Astoria family crafts cuddly monsters

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Eric and Erin Black


Not all monsters are scary. In fact, Lyla Tov Monsters are here to protect.

Inspired by a gift designed by their young daughter Lyla, Eric and Erin Black make Lyla Tov Monsters — plushy, handmade toys that are the “guardians of a good night’s sleep.”

The husband and wife team, along with their three children, have been making the toys out of their Astoria home since 2009. The family, who has sold 300 Lyla Tov Monsters in the last year, said the response they have gotten from parents and children inspire them to keep growing. They have received stories of Lyla Tov Monsters helping kids get through their first days of school and others of them supporting children during their time at the hospital.

“We heard from a girl who had an appendectomy who told us she only made through it because she had the monsters with her,” said Eric.

The couple brings a collective 30 year experience in children’s media to the business—she is an Emmy-award winning costume designer for her work on Sesame Street; he has worked in children’s television for the Jim

Henson Company and done work for Scholastic Media. Their mission now is to “try and bring a good night’s sleep to as many children as possible.”

A play on Hebrew words, Lyla Tov means “good night.” The couple’s six-year-old daughter Lyla, made the original Lyla Tov when she was three years old as a gift for her father.

“She had the drawing and the concept all planned out. I was surprised by how fleshed out it was from such a young child,” said Erin.

According to Eric, Lyla’s original design, along with the bright colors, long arms and legs and animated facial expressions, is what has made their business a success.

“Having the design made by a child gives the appeal to children,” he said. Children as young as three and as old as 10 have responded enthusiastically to the toys.

“The babies really love it. [Lyla Tov Monsters] are very tactile and visually engaging. The older kids endow them with a personality and a story,” said Erin.

The family describes the business as a labor of love. Even four-year-old Quinn has the very important task of “checking for overall hugability” before each toy is packaged.

“I think it’s important for them to understand that it’s a family project,” said Eric. “We all lend a hand. [We want to teach them] how much a family relies on each other to get things done. We’re all a part of the family. We do what we can for each other.”

Helping children in big ways and small is at the foundation of Lyla Tov Monsters.

“As a continued learning tool, we donate a portion of the proceeds to children’s charities,” said Eric. The family has made donations to a Jewish orphanage in the Ukraine, the United Cerebral Palsy Fund, the Pajama Program and other charities.

“It definitely makes it beyond a business. We’re bringing something to the community. We’re not just making a product. We’re here to help. That’s a big part of the original mission,” said Eric.

The Blacks grew their business through word of mouth, first selling at craft fairs, then opening their online store and now wholesaling to toy stores and gift shops both locally and out-of-state.

Looking back on their journey so far, Eric said, “we’re not in this alone anymore. There’s a community around us. As much as this is a family business, people are so happy to promote us through word of mouth and social media. We’ve gotten so much support from people that we know and it has spread to people we don’t know. The heart of our business is Lyla’s creativity and love just shining through.”

The dolls sell for $40 and are available on www.lylatov.com.