During the height of COVID-19 siblings Ericka Chambers, 32 and William Jones, 29 sat down to put a puzzle together, much like they’d been doing since childhood.
But this play session was a bit different. Pregnant at the time with her daughter, Chambers noticed there were virtually no puzzles depicting Black women or BIPOC family images after doing a cursory search online. This is surprising since the puzzle industry grew by 370% in 2020.
“I instantly thought of assembling a puzzle with my daughter once she was big enough, but I wanted her to be able to see herself in the pieces,” she shared with Essence.
It was then that Jones came up with the idea of launching an inclusive puzzle company to help fill that need.
“I think once I heard the idea and understood the void it filled, my ears perked up to the idea,” he said. “I always preferred a product business as opposed to a service business because people really like to “negotiate” the value of your services. I knew some talented artists of color and I knew all the basics of getting a business started. From there it was just the unknowns of the puzzle space we had to figure out.
Founder of the Creative Collective, a graphic design firm, he said he aimed to work with local artists to help the beautiful images come to life.
Thus Puzzles of Color was born. The games are literal works of art, depicting everything from portraits of Black women dawning afro crowns to brush-stroked couples in a warm embrace. This was intentional.
“We wanted to depict the full spectrum of the beautiful Black experience in the puzzles,” Chambers said.
Less than three years later, the puzzles have reached a large audience online can be found in retailers across the country with plans to expand distribution this year. But it isn’t easy.
“I couldn’t have prepared for how tough entrepreneurship is,” Chambers said. “Dealing with some of the challenges COVID-19 has posed on shipping, distribution and materials takes its toll sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“We really hope to keep showcasing more talented artists of color through our puzzles,” Jones said. :We look forward to working on some collaborations with our artists and other larger businesses to give them a larger platform and also get the puzzles into some national retail chains.”