NEW MILFORD, N.J. — To realize her American Dream, New Milford mother Marcela Hollywood had to reach back to her Eastern European roots.
Hollywood is the founder of children's toy "Connects," which is now sold in over 200 stores nationwide. Connects are colored chain link pieces that children can use to fashion jewelry and as decoration.
The inspiration for Connects came from Hollywood's upbringing in Communist Czechoslovakia, where she said she played with "simpler" toys.
"I found Connects because I wanted to bring kids back to the basics," Hollywood told Daily Voice. "I feel kids play with electronics all the time now and I wanted to slow things down for them."
Hollywood fled her native Slovakia in 1995 and came to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity. The stay-at-home-mother was cleaning toys out of the bathtub in 2013 when she found a toy chain link and it triggered her memory.
Hollywood fashioned together a prototype and showed it to her daughters and their friends. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
Pretty soon, Hollywood had acquired a patent and was selling her product to large retailers like Learning Express and The Paper Store.
Today, Connects is profitable and Hollywood feels like she has realized her American dream.
"I'm so lucky to live in a country where I have the ability to accomplish something like this," Hollywood said. "It makes me feel proud to be able to show my children that something so simple can become something so great."
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