About TOPS Malibu by Judy Walker
I never question where my passion takes me.
This is how TOPS Malibu was born.
In the 1980's I started TOPS Gallery in Malibu- a gallery of unusual functional art.
My former husband, actor Robert Walker Jr. and I ran it. I had artist connections in the Pacific Northwest & he had connections with Taos artists.
The entertainment industry loved TOPS Malibu. We were a hit with the media because of our quirky artist made product and lively VIP customers. Word spread.
We introduced the sterling silver Bubbler necklace which Madonna blew at her concerts and Larry Hagman shared bubbles (instead of smoke) on Johnny Carson.
I wished to design my own product however.
The fleeting thought came in the bathtub -a candle with a fortune capsule with message, charms and gems hidden inside the candle. And I named them Good Fortune Candles®
All fortunes pertained to following your intuition – follow your path and watch the wonderful doors that open for you. Stay out of your own way. Follow your heart.
I sawed off a chopstick, painted the tips gold and attached it to the ribbon on the candle. Its job was to retrieve the prizes as they were revealed in the molten wax. Good Fortune Candles® became an instant success. They had so many elements: Intrigue, naughtiness (playing with candle wax), finding fortune and surprises.
A candle’s flickering light has been elemental through out history for all celebration gathering. Add the element of surprise and it was instant success! I got a patent for the message capsule embedded in a candle.
Good Fortune Candles® were picked up by the cosmetics buyer of prestigious Henri Bendel in NY and then Neiman Marcus spotted them. Word spread quickly.
I loved hearing my customers’ stories.
A woman who was estranged from her sister sent her a Good Fortune Candle. She wrote me with gratitude how the experience and the message inside brought them together.
I had designed a surprising, memorable experience.
I designed a secondary line for Target and succeeded at filling their orders. This taught me that TOPS could be a big business.
Trends fade and the concept was copied by many. Now, what could I do with all the prizes, charms and inventory from the candles?
I had to come up with something else. A new experience.
All my ideas were not about the product. The act of using the product was what created the lasting memory.
Next hit were Surprise Balls. Unwind multicolor crepe ribbon and find a gift in each layer.
The Midwest and South embraced these right away as they had the memories of homemade Surprise Balls from the 1950’s. This was my first experience where NY and LA took longer to spot a trend. They soon did and the world fell in love with TOPS Malibu Surprize Balls.
TOPS Malibu Surprize Balls became popular - from a formal White House inauguration party to kids birthday parties.
Our byline was Spontanaiety, Synchronicity and Smiles.
This was back in the 80’s, early 90s and the byline was a little too “out there” for people to grasp. “Too much information” an ad agency would say.
A pivotal time for our business was when Oprah introduced her “Ahhaa moment.”
She had put to words what I had been trying to say in too many words. Simply “Ahhaa!”
Oprah held a key for TOPS Malibu to grow and be successful
People became interested in spirit, intuition &connection.
I could talk about following intuition, wonder, curiosity, serendipity ,synchronicity and I wasn’t weird to the masses any longer.
The world was interested in connecting more. “Reaching out “ became a buzz word. Following your intuition was considered something to strive for.
We designed games. Tea Leaf reading with a dictionary of symbols and Writing and Conversation Games to spark people’s interest in each other.
We had a game called Pocket Psychologist.
One game piece suggested to go into a grocery store with a quandry in mind and go up to a first shelf that peeked your interest; read the first label that jumped at you. That was the key to your answer!
Leap! Stay out of your own way. Discover.
TOPS Malibu has continued to boom through serendipity, surprise, spontaneity, reaching out and creating lasting memories for our customers.
Our latest hit are sparklers in the shapes of numbers, letters hearts and stars. No one had seen these before and now they are a staple for birthdays and special occasions.
Magic Butterflies that fly out of a greeting card are a huge hit.
Fond Memories linger which is why now the children of our original customers are also buying TOPS Malibu for their families.
We’ve created family memories that are being shared with the next generation and that is a great feeling.
Founder, Designer, CEO TOPS Malibu