As Disney recognizes National Veteran and Military Families Month in November, the company honors U.S. Navy Veteran Dominique “Dom” Brown, senior manager of product design. From skateboards to dirt bikes to ATV ride-on toys, Dom is one of the cast members behind many of the fan-favorite riding toys and Disney merch on wheels. As a 15-year Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing (CPGP) designer and U.S. Navy Veteran, Dom brings tenacity and commitment to his role in creating award-winning toys for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars fans.
Dom’s career in product design started with a childhood passion for drawing. As a curious and quiet elementary schooler growing up in California, Dom found peace and joy in making art. During his youth, he entered a coloring competition for a department store and won, further sparking his interest in art and product design. In high school, Dom won an award for most talented artist. His mentor, a commercial artist, helped foster the intrigue that allowed Dom to turn his skills into a fulfilling and fun career.
From serving in the Navy to Disney’s Center of Excellence
At 19 years old, Dom joined the Navy and was stationed with the Marines as a dental tech-field combat medical serviceman, providing field medical services to Marines. Though he joined the Navy, Dom’s desire to draw never ceased. He carried watercolors and notepads with him and even considered becoming a Navy illustrator draftsman. Instead, he found a local art college and continued to pursue his passion. While serving, Dom would gift going-away portraits to officers that were retiring and returning home as a meaningful way to commemorate their time served.
“I joined the Navy because I thought it would give me the opportunity to eventually go to CAL ARTS, a prominent art college in California,” Dom shared. “Those who served with me encouraged me to follow my heart and supported my creative journey all the way. The wonders of following your heart are magical, it has led me here.”
After serving in the Navy for five years, Dom started his first product design job at Mattel. Eight years later, he joined The Walt Disney Company, where he has spent over a decade in the Consumer Products business working on franchises across Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. From Super Heroes to Disney Princess characters and everything in between, Dom’s diverse background and perspective help bring inclusive offerings to life across Disney Experiences. Now 15 years in, Dom is still amazed at the fact that his creations become beloved birthday and holiday gifts for fandoms around the world.
“To be able to deliver Christmas to children globally is mind blowing and such a great accolade, better than any award,” Dom said.
Recently, Dom has been chosen to lead the segment’s Center of Excellence and now oversees multiple product categories that fall under toys. From games and puzzles to consumer electronics and sporting goods, Dom has had a hand in bringing a range of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars inspired fun to retail shelves. He worked on the Disney Villainous board game, which won the Toy Fair’s Toy of the Year Award, and collectibles like Disney Doorables and Disney’s Tsum Tsum collectible figure line continue to bring joy to fans.
Award-Winning and Fulfilling Projects
Lessons learned from Dom’s time in the Navy have stayed with him through his work and personal life. Discipline, punctuality and always “completing the mission” are characteristics he champions and brings to every project he works on. In addition, his commitment to creating happiness has led to several awards for his designs.
One of Dom’s favorite memories is the creative experience on the Star Wars™ The Mandalorian-inspired bike from GT Bicycles. His work on Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princess, and Marvel’s Spider-Man bikes have helped them consistently earn recognitions as the top three licensed bikes for the last decade, and he is thrilled that the Marvel HJC Helmets have been worn by professional motorcycle racers at the Moto Grand Prix. With the help of his team, Dom recently worked with Monster Jam in connection with their Marvel-inspired monster trucks. New toys replicating the trucks will be released in fall 2024. Outside of ride-on toys and accessories, another project Dom is proud of is his participation on Beats by Dre headphones for Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary.
Dom always keeps fans top of mind with his design work. He understands how products can create memorable and joyous moments for children as they play. Highlights from the many innovations he has been associated with include one of the first unique handlebar carriages that allowed fans to bring their favorite Disney Princess dolls and Super Hero action figures along with them on their bike rides. Additionally, the Disney Princess carriage produced by Walmart won a Product of the Year Award and is the largest ride-on toy that Dom and his team have worked on. The attention to detail and dedication he puts into his work is unmatched.
As he reflects on his design process, Dom shares some creative insight. “Never design a product upset or in a bad mood. I think kids will feel this when trying to play with your toy and the fun will be lost.” He shared his belief that “happy design breeds happy toys, thus making kids happy when they are at play with your toy.”
Staying Inspired and Inspiring Others
Dom shared some insight on the seven steps, dubbed “Story Spaces,” he and his team use to feel inspired and creative as they work on their designs. The team tours different attractions across Disney Parks to help inspire their designs, being intentional about taking in all the details. From the colors and shapes they see, to the sounds they hear and the materials they can feel, the team uses the emotions experienced from the attraction to help create the same feeling through merchandise across all CPGP brands.
Outside of the office, Dom works on his craft daily and aims to be an inspiration to others. As he reflects on his connection with his longtime mentor and friend, who has helped him cultivate his talent, he also wants to do the same for others. He is passionate about planting the product design seed in artists and students who have an interest in illustration and shares the advice to “love it first and the rest will come.” An additional thought on how his own career has aligned with his passion, Dom recommends to others “follow your gut. No one ever says, ‘why did I listen to my gut?'”