This Black Couple Created Culturally Inclusive Toys to Show Diversity and Career Images

Frustrated with the lack of diversity featured in children’s puzzle drawings, Matthew Goins knew he had to start his own puzzle company to address that issue.

He and his wife Marnel created Puzzle Huddle which has led to young children being able to see images of kids that look just like them in puzzles. The culturally inclusive brand allows kids to piece puzzles together and the result is seeing Black representation of scientists, doctors and even pilots when the picture comes together.

Representation matters.

With the effects of the coronavirus running rampant, forcing schools to close and families to stay at home, the timing has increased sales for Puzzle Huddle.

Goins talked to BLACK ENTERPRISE about how his company is different than most and his life as an entrepreneur.

BE: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur and how has that decision affected your life?

I’ve had a lifelong interest in becoming an entrepreneur. I sold Blow-Pops out of my locker and bookbag in middle school. I’ve also had a lifetime discipline and interest in academic progress through school. My academic and pragmatic career disposition had more influence over my life until recently.

My upbringing in Detroit, then attending Howard University, connected to a peer group of people that are determined to achieve and make a difference in the world. I feel like a part of a generational cohort that know we need to make a difference where we can.

Self-employment has created increased uncertainty and income instability, but it’s one of the most fun and fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

What inspired you to start your children’s puzzle company, Puzzle Huddle and how is business these days?

As my family grew to include three young children, we looked for toys and games that would support their learning. Puzzles are a pretty standard purchase for families with young children, but I was very frustrated with the lack of diversity featured in the puzzle drawings.

We had an unseasonal increase in sales as many school districts suspended class and parents were preparing to have their children at home during the day.

During this coronavirus pandemic, have you seen any type of change in people ordering items from your company?

More families are ordering and we’ve also seen an increased interest in larger, more complex puzzles because students of all ages have been affected by school closures.

What sets Puzzle Huddle apart from other companies that may be similar in theory?

Our puzzles emphasize diversity and career images. Browsing our website we hope people notice the ranges of skin colors, hair textures, and career images. We enjoy hearing from parents and children that believe the puzzle art was drawn to look like them. We started with STEM images and we’ve added public safety careers, art professionals, Bible story characters, and others.

What has entrepreneurship taught you and what advice would you give others seeking to start their own endeavor?

Entrepreneurship requires comfort with risk taking and storytelling. I recognized early that people were interested in the small business journey, so we communicate a storyline around our products and business journey.