Your Haas Network
Joy Kovaleski, BS 77
Founder, Funzone Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
Joy Kovaleski, BS 77, oversees monkeys, frogs, and elephants. No, she's not a zookeeper. Her animals are strictly of the plush kind. They are toys that were developed for companies like Cost Plus World Market, Gymboree, Big Dogs Sportswear, and PetsMart by her company Funzone.
The seeds of Kovaleski's company were planted right after graduation from UC Berkeley when she was in product development at Avon in New York City. There, the design, marketing, and production teams would collaborate to bring a new product to market. "We always talked about 'plus-ing' ideas", she says. One such example was when they came up with the idea to package lip balm with colorful graphics and fruits on the container. It turned out to be a huge success. Finding ways to combine creativity with business has been a hallmark of her career ever since.
Kovaleski returned to California in 1984 to work for the gift company Applause. She was propelled up the career ladder, landing at vice president of product development and design as the company grew from $60 million to $280 million, and licensed characters from Disney, Warner Brothers, and Sesame Street.
Kovaleski recently reconnected with the Haas School and is now active in the Haas Alumni Network Chapter in Los Angeles and the LA Development Council. "Giving back to Haas has been both professionally rewarding and fun," says Kovaleski. "I hope all my fellow alumni take up the challenge and join me."