Amanda Wilson, CEO of A+X Puzzles, is the first Black woman to have her puzzles featured in Target stores nationwide. Wilson launched the business less than three years ago and will now have her products available in 1,750 Target locations.
The company made the announcement about the nationwide launch on Aug. 8. Wilson spoke to Lynne Hayes Freeland of CBS Pittsburgh about the exciting news.
“We are the first Black puzzle company to be in a big-box retailer,” Wilson said. “So this is a monumental moment.”
She explained that A+X features positive representations of Black children and noted that puzzles can be excellent learning tools for kids.
“They help with fine-tuning those motor skills, facial recognition, concentration and shape recognition as well,” Wilson said.
Wilson began to notice a lack of diversity in the industry before giving birth to twins Adric and Xol, and began creating sketches for the puzzles while the twins were in the NICU.
Wilson also noted that the puzzle industry grew by more than 200 percent in 2020 amid COVID-19 lockdowns as people searched for something to do while stuck at home.
“My business very much so benefited from that growth even before I was talking to Target,” she said. The international market for puzzles reportedly was valued at $9.1 billion in 2019.
“Puzzles are really one of those things that you can do with the entire family and it gives everyone a break from social media and technology and it’s just nice to be able to concentrate with your family on completing something and then you feel good when it’s all done.”
Wilson said she got in touch with a Target representative on the professional networking site LinkedIn, and that one year later the company reached back out and provided feedback on the product. She said seeing her puzzles in Target stores for the first time was surreal.
“I never saw myself as someone who would make history, but I did. I am proud to say that I am the first Black puzzle company in a major retail store. It is an amazing feeling,” she told Because Of Them We Can.
After moving through the challenging process of creating a start-up company, Wilson said she noticed new businesses are in need of upfront capital. She said she’s currently working to help small businesses navigate their way through the early stages of managing a start-up.
“I hope my company inspires other burgeoning Black businesses to keep striving towards their goal. Being the first and only carries weight, and I hope to bring along more businesses in the gaming industry with me. The main advice I will give is to stay prepared. There will be a lot of questions, and people will doubt you but stay the course. No one is you, and that is your power,” she said.
Wilson threw a launch party to celebrate the monumental accomplishment. “August 8th will go down in history!” she wrote on Instagram.