When asked what she wanted to do with her career, Mary Doherty Ellroy imagined herself working for an ad agency that specialized in toys. A lot has changed the 1970s and her days in college. However, that dream only touched on her true passion. It is a passion that she is now realizing, reports Entrepreneur. Toy inventing.

Today, Ellroy, who is in her late 50s and based in Norwalk, Conn., has not one but two creative careers. She has become a prolific inventor of toys and games, with more than 36 products on the market — including the perennially strong-selling Great States, a geography game for elementary school children; a board game called Two Out of Three; and the Magic Rainbow Maker toy. She works as a contract inventor for various companies, creating products based on licensed characters such as Hannah Montana.

Additionally, Ellroy’s company, Gamebird, has developed a new niche in recent years as an agent, creative advisor and consultant for other toy and game creators, helping others to turn their inspirations into marketable products.

For Ellroy, her consulting work is a particularly satisfying role because it enables her to leverage what she’s learned from her own experience about how to turn dreams into reality.

As an inventor, Ellroy is paid an advance when manufacturers pick up one of her games or toys, and also receives royalties from sales of the products. She says her income varies from year to year, but consistently exceeds what she earned in her corporate job.

Photo from Gamebird

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