Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling took her idea to make toys that can inspire girls to become inventors to Kickstarter in 2012.
Two years later, her story-based GoldieBlox construction sets and action figures are being sold in 6,000 stores worldwide. They feature Goldie, a girl who loves to build, and her friends who solve problems by making machines.
"She's not a genius. But she is willing to try and take risks and learn from failure. That's what I really want to teach girls." Sterling told CNBC on Wednesday, the day before the GoldieBlox float was set to roll down the streets of New York City in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
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Sterling graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in mechanical engineering-product design.
"Most of my male classmates grew up playing with circuits, Legos and Erector sets. Those toys are really educational and build that interest in how things are put together," she said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I grew up with dolls and ponies and dress-up. So I was a little behind."
"My goal was to create the toy I wish I had growing up," Sterling said. "In addition to the princess lifestyle. [Girls] can be inventors."
"When I first started out," she said, "the toy industry told me that this would 'never go mainstream … [because] girls like dolls and boys like building. You can't fight nature.'"
But she didn't listen, taking Kickstarter by storm two years ago. Sterling had reached her funding goal in three days. "We went from Kickstarter to Toys R Us nationwide in only about six months."
Sterling hopes one day that GoldieBlox can become a global character brand. "That's where toys are a part of it. But it's also cartoons, apps and games."
Asked whether toy giants Mattel or Hasbro have approached her, Sterling said: "They've been snooping around a little bit. But I'm really excited about building a business that I could pass down to my kids."