Klutz was incorporated in 1977 in Palo Alto, California, by three friends from  Stanford University. They began by selling sidewalk juggling lessons along with a trio of no-bounce beanbags. A week’s efforts earned the group $35. "It was then we realized the sky was the limit."

John Cassidy, the English major of the group, put the instructions in book form and titled it Juggling for the Complete Klutz. Darrell Lorentzen, the business major, wrote up the original business plan and the other partner B.C. Rimbeaux, the psychology major, was assigned the task of getting a bank loan.

The first 3,000 books were distributed via bicycle and backpack, and sales grew from there. "It really was a failed scam," explains Cassidy, who remains the creative force of the company. "Our dream was to do a book on juggling, sell a bazillion in a couple of days, buy an island and retire. It didn’t work out. After a year of steady, unspectacular sales, we found ourselves staring down the barrel of a career."

Today, how-to books from Klutz come packaged with the tools of their trade (from juggling cubes to face paints to yo-yos) and are designed for doing, not just reading. "We think people learn best through their hands, nose, feet, mouth, ears and then their eyes. So we design multi-sensory books," Cassidy says. The appeal of this hands-on approach is borne out by sales figures; Klutz is a fixture on U.S. book and toy best-seller lists and is available in 24 countries around the world.

Having expanded the offerings to include Klutz Toys, Klutz Kits, Klutz Guides and, in 2005, Chicken Socks®, a new line of activity booksfor kids 4 and up, Cassidy seems to have an unlimited supply of ideas. The inspiration? "I marinate myself in children," he says. "Some years ago, I created a few. With the help of my wife" (Nancy Cassidy, the voice behind the gold-record-winning KidsSongs recordings).

In 2002, Scholastic Corporation, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, acquired Klutz. For those of you who collect mission statements, here’s the Klutz credo: Create wonderful things, be good, have fun.

This year, Klutz is pleased to introduce its new president Matt Brown. Brown took the reins of Klutz from recently retired co-founder John Cassidy on September 7, 2010. Before coming to Klutz, Brown was the co-founder and Play Czar at BIG BOING, LLC, a strategic innovation company committed to promoting happiness and well-being through play. Before BIG BOING, Brown was at LeapFrog where he worked as the Vice President of the Internet Division and Vice President of Business Development. Brown is dedicated to making play and laughter central in the lives of kids and families. He will be available for interviews throughout Toy Fair 2011.

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