This HBCU Couple Provides Kids With the Representation They Need Through Puzzles
Photo Credit: Puzzle Huddle

This HBCU Couple Provides Kids With the Representation They Need Through Puzzles

During times like these, we all need a pick-me-up to keep us going and this Black-owned puzzle company is the perfect solution for families across the country.

Puzzle Huddle — founded in January of 2018 — began with two Howard University alums who had an idea to create the representation their kids were lacking in their toys.

“As all parents do, we were looking for educational toys for our kids,” co-founder, Matthew Goins said. “As we bought a couple dozen puzzles home, I looked at the variety and noticed none of them had Black characters.”

Starting Puzzle Huddle

As products of an HBCU, Matthew and his wife Marnel were understandably frustrated with the lack of diversity in the toys they were buying for their kids.

“That’s not what we were taught, we don’t deal with the world that way,” Matthew said.

Upon experimenting with their available resources, Matthew and his wife started making homemade puzzles from scratch. Upon making these puzzles, it struck them that other parents raising Black children would most likely want these as well.

“We started looking for a printer to help produce a commercial product for our puzzles,” Matthew said.

From there, their small idea turned into a full operation of manufacturing puzzles with Black cultural images for kids.

Photo Credit: Matthew Goins

Growing a New Business

Though they pride themselves on the progress the company has made, starting this business was no easy task for the full-time working parents with three kids.

“My wife and I had very demanding jobs and at one point she was working in another city,” Matthew said. “It was a heck of a challenge to overcome.”

Since they started, the company has received great feedback from customers.

“The most interesting quotes we’ve gotten from dozens of people is their kids’ response to them saying either ‘that character looks like me’ or ‘that character is me,'” he said.

Helping Black Families

Since families across the country are now confined to their homes, Puzzle Huddle has seen a leap in business. Despite these tough times, Puzzle Huddle is happy they’re able to be of service to families looking to fill a void.

As the public health crisis continues, the company has plans to utilize social media to hold weekly puzzle giveaways to stay connected to the community and give back to families who contributed to their success.

Although the couple hasn’t seen much movement for diversity in the toy space, they do attest that they’ve seen less resistance to this kind of product.

Future Plans

As the company continues to grow, Puzzle Huddle has plans to expand on the images they’re producing — one of which being career images.

“There’s hundreds of careers — service, music, arts, other STEM areas. There’s so much ground to cover so we want to do more,” Matthew said.

The demand for this product is a true testament to what parenting still looks like. Despite what many believe, technology does not define parenting these days. People are still very much investing in educational toys and activities.

“If you weren’t paying attention, you would think kids only play with tablets and phones, and that’s all young parents know how to do with their kids,” he said. “Coloring books, crayons, markers, bubbles, blocks and puzzles are still core in terms of child development.”

Creating More Representation

In terms of the company’s success, Goins shared that the couple’s product wasn’t a new phenomenon. Instead, they are simply offering something that Black parents were lacking — positive representation in their kids’ toys.

“I didn’t have to create the demand for this, this is something that [was] already active in the marketplace,” he said. “I’m just playing in a toy space that already existed.”

Puzzle Huddle hopes to continue expanding into a more popularized idea that will eventually shift the toy space.