Co-owner, West Side Kids
Leslie Bergman, pictured right with her mom and business partner Alice Bergman, says she belongs “right in the middle of everything!” And that is exactly where she is at the centrally located West Side Kids, a New York City specialty toy store her mom opened in 1981, which she has co-owned since 2002. They wanted to create a place that reflected their own culture, values, politics and beliefs in the form of children’s toys; simultaneously offering educational and wholesome products. Breaking the molds of traditional toy makers and ethnic and gender conformities, they made available African-American dolls, cooking sets for boys, tool sets for girls and items that kids could purchase with their own allowances. Raised by a feminist mother who encouraged multiculturalism and gender diversity in friendships, Bergman applied these lessons to her business approach. “We were raised with the goal of growing up happy and making a difference in this world,” states Bergman. And that is exactly what she has accomplished.