About Us 2019
TOPS Malibu by Judy Walker
I never question where my instinct and passion takes me.
This is how TOPS Malibu was born.
In the 1980' my husband and I started TOPS Gallery in Malibu- a gallery of unusual functional art.
We brought in functional art from friends in Taos and the Pacific NW.
We had instant success with our quirky artist made product and lively VIP entertainment industry 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®
Good Fortune Candles® became an instant success, picked up by Henri Bendel NY and Neiman Marcus. They had so many elements: Intrigue, naughtiness (playing with candle wax), finding fortune and surprise.
All fortunes pertained to following your intuition – following your inner path and watch the wonderful doors that open for you.
I loved hearing my customers’ stories.
A woman who was estranged from her sister wrote me with gratitude how the experience of the candle and the message inside brought them together.
I had designed a surprising, memorable experience. Very exciting!
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 in China by many.
We continued to always make our product in the USA.
I had to come up with a new experience to make memories.
Surprise balls! - Unwind multicolor crepe ribbon and find a gift in each layer.
The Midwest and South embraced them immediately as they had 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. They were loved by adults and kids, from a formal White House inauguration party to kids’ birthday parties.
Our byline back in the 80’s was Spontaneity, Synchronicity and Smiles. “Too much information” an ad agency said.
Then Oprah put to words what I had been trying to say in too many words. “an Ahhaa! moment”
People became interested in spirit, intuition & most importantly connection.
We designed games: tea leaf reading with an international dictionary of symbols and writing and conversation games to spark people’s interest in each other.
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
The Story of Surprize Balls - A tale of spontaneity, synchronicity and smiles!
TOPS Malibu believes in bringing people together through the art of surprise and the sharing of wonderment. We design games & activities that encourage spontaneity, intuition, and interaction - providing great memories for all ...and that's what a Surprize Ball offers!
Similar to the original 1950s version, our Surprize Balls are created from approximately 100 feet of colorfully changing crepe paper ribbon with lots of hidden treasures. As the crepe Ball unravels, surprises and gifts spill out of each layer.
We're always on the hunt for vintage-style toys, charms, candies and more new prizes that'll please both adults & kids alike. Each Surprize Ball is uniquely handmade with varying prizes, so you never know what fun you might unravel!
Early History of Surprise Balls:
The earliest evidence of Surprise Balls was found in Native American culture. Traditionally, it was a common practice to tell the history of one's life with a unique Ball of twigs, grass, string, etc. where the first layer represented birth and for significant events in life, another layer and memento was added. Surprise Balls in Native American culture represented a person's entire life.
Then, In the 1950s:
Surprise Balls became vogue in Mid-America when a gent named Charles Gregor in New Orleans created, "The Surprise Ball: The Toy You Destroy to Enjoy." The Surprise Ball soon made its appearance in FAO Schwarz, Mayo Clinic, The Children's Hospital in Minnesota, Ben Franklin Crafts, and The Nut Tree near San Francisco.
Eventually, the trend stopped as trends tend to do. There were a few Surprise Balls made in Japan. Many of these had a hard plastic Ball in the center filled with toys without the colorful fun paper layers.
Judy Walker of TOPS Malibu Brings the Surprise Balls Back!
In the 1980s, Judy Walker, Founder of TOPS Malibu, remembered Surprise Balls from her childhood. Having grown up curious by nature, she loved infusing play into every moment and as an adult, continued to create memorable moments for her clients similar to the carnivals she once planned for the neighborhood kids during her youth. She began to collect original trinkets & surprises, like Fortune Fish and vintage toys, then wrapped them into colorful crepe paper to create the TOPS Malibu Surprize Ball, which is now loved by people of all ages and for every sort of occasion.