Home Graphic designer How a Rhode Island family started a puzzle business from the ground up

How a Rhode Island family started a puzzle business from the ground up

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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The first “Puzzle of Hope”. Picture: Hope Puzzles

Starting your own business isn’t always easy, especially when you’re learning the business from scratch.

That’s exactly what Barrington residents Jerauld and Sara Adams did when they started their business.Hope Puzzlesduring the pandemic.

The Adamses, who had sold their historic Central Falls mill complex in February 2020, were trying to figure out what their next chapter should be – and like most families, found themselves spending most of their time at home during the pandemic with their four children.

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“We were doing a lot of puzzles,” Jerauld Adams told GoLocal in an interview. “And then it just clicked.”

Adams said the idea was to create “high-end” puzzles that are durable and long-lasting – and Rhode Island-focused.

Except for one thing.

The Adams had no experience making puzzles.

“It’s not like you can call up a competing puzzle company and ask them how to do it,” Adams said with a laugh. “So I had to kind of reverse engineer it.”

Adams said he knew what he wanted though – puzzles with unique “whimsical” pieces that showed both the state of the ocean and its rich artistic culture, and were durable enough to be passed down from generation to generation. in generation.

“It was a lot of effort, trial and error,” Adams said. “It’s been very rewarding – and also overwhelming.”

The Making of Puzzle Company

Adams knew he had the perfect space to call home — his old mill complex that has been transformed into offices, artists’ studios and creative spaces.

Materials and production, however, have become a labor of love and money.

Adams researched laser cutters and found that they cost between $8,000 and $20,000.

“I went for the one with all the bells and whistles,” Adams said.

“Reading other puzzle websites, I knew it would be plywood,” Adams said, then deciding on the composition of the puzzles. “What I have found, however, is that the plywood from the big box stores is stuck together with little specks of metal. So the puzzle might look great on the surface, but the laser cutter would hit the spots and bounce off.

“I started calling the plywood manufacturers. I knew I wanted a maple or birch veneer,” Adams said. “I contacted a manufacturer on the west coast who could meet our specifications. They told me I had to order 240 sheets for the special order.

“It was $18,000 for eight-foot-tall sheets of plywood,” Adams said.

Then it’s time for the design.

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Monet’s “Le Bassin d’Argentuil” can be found at RISD – and now, on a “Puzzle of Hope”.

Harnessing Rhode Island Talents and Resources

“We really wanted our puzzles to be about Rhode Island,” Adams said.

Adams tapped illustrator and graphic designer Matt Castigliego to work on the first design for Hope Puzzles – an anchor depicting beach scenes from across the state.

“He’s just the nicest guy in the world,” Adams said of his work with Castigliego. “I started with an anchor shape and said help me find a design to fit it all together.

“I had some thoughts, of course – Narragansett here, and images of what happens on a typical day in Rhode Island,” Adams said. “And we have the State House, and a Rhode Island license plate, of course.”

Adams began distributing the puzzle to friends and family, seeking feedback.

“One comment we heard was that there were too many pieces for kids,” said Adams, who said he didn’t plan on making kids’ puzzles.

He listened, of course – and reconfigured the shapes of the puzzle into larger pieces so he could also offer another product to families.

Adams also knew he wanted to tap into one of the state’s greatest artistic resources – the Rhode Island School of Design.

There he said he learned that many of their pieces were in the public domain, which allowed the Adams to browse thousands of paintings for which they would be allowed to use the images on their puzzles.

“I looked through tens of thousands of paintings and picked the top twenty that I liked,” Adam said. “I let my wife narrow them down to the final selections.”

Now, Adams says the biggest hurdle is getting “Hope Puzzles” out there. They have a website, are currently in Barrington Books, and can be found at the Barrington Public Library.

“People have been asking questions on Amazon, but I don’t want it to take off so fast that I can’t keep up,” Adams said. “I have to develop this to my comfort level.”

Right now, Adams said he works at the factory 10 to 12 hours a day and his four children come to help him when they can.

“I try to instill a work ethic in my kids,” Adams said. “These puzzles are heirloom quality – they are meant to last for generations.”

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