Black businesses across the nation have built products out of a necessity for items on the market that don’t reflect people who look like us. The same is true for Amanda Wilson who decided during her pregnancy with her twins that the world needed more puzzles with people who look like her family.
“I was building their baby registry and trying to look for educational toys and games to add,” she said during an exclusive interview with BAUCE. “I could not find any puzzles that had Black characters.”
Because she grew up playing board games, puzzles, and the whole nine with her family, Wilson wanted her children to experience the same, however, she wanted them to be able to see themselves through those same puzzles and games and thus A+X Puzzle was born!
Wilson’s twins, Adric and Xola were born 10 weeks early and during the 43 day period that they were in the NICU, the pair became the inspiration behind the designs for the puzzles that their mother began to sketch.
“We actually had a long NICU stay due to their early birth and that’s when the sketches started the vision really began to come to life,” Wilson continued. “I started sketching images and by the time that they were out of the NICU, I had my first prototype done. When they were in the NICU there really wasn’t much that I could do besides making sure that they were breathing and eating and because of that I put my energy into something that I could be in control of and for me, that was the sketches. Using my imagination and creative skills to bring this to life during that time period was really where we got started.”
“I’m not an artist by trade, I can just do a stick figure really well, but I am a daydreamer,” expressed Wilson.
She turned those dreams into a reality by coming up with the product design and images that she was able to draft out using her creativity and imagination and from there Wilson contacted an illustrator to help bring the concepts to life.
“A lot of the designs came from thinking of different scenarios that I thought the twins may like to explore or things I thought they should learn about,” she shared. “Some of the images include spaceships, submarines, dinosaurs, race tracks, and a lot of what my interests and my children’s interests are. It’s all about letting your inner child explore again because as adults we get away from what our inner child would want.”
Journey to Retail
Now, Wilson’s inner child is amazed because A+X puzzles are the first Black-owned puzzles to hit Target shelves.
“In January of 2020 I walked into Target and was super intrigued by their Black History Month display and began to wonder who I could get our products there,” she explained. “I went home and hopped on Google and LinkedIn trying to figure out who the creative team behind Target’s Black History Month set up was and how I could get in touch with them. I ended up getting in touch with someone connected to the creative team behind the display thanks to LinkedIn and from there I was able to have a conversation about steps we could make to get to that point and the rest is history.”
After the conversation, Wilson went back to the drawing board and began to take the advice of the contact she has connected with looking at everything from prie point changes to target audiences.
“About nine months later, I received an email saying ‘hey, we want to bring your products into our stores,’” Wilson revealed. “I was thinking that this was for Black History Month, but they wanted A+X puzzles in their stores throughout the country.”
Click here to learn more about A+X Puzzles and to purchase yours today!