TOPEKA (KSNT) – It’s a puzzle brand that’s more than putting the pieces together. They’re puzzles meant for representation, education and family.
That’s the message small business owner Amanda Wilson wants to get across to people now that her brand has hit Target shelves around the country. Wilson started her business A+X Puzzles after the birth of her twins. The brand is named after them, using the first initials of her son’s name, Adric, and her daughter’s name, Xola.
“I was pregnant with my twins Adric and Xola,” Wilson said. “Searching for different toys and games, building the baby registry, I couldn’t find anything that, you know, was diverse in toys or games. So I just created it.”
Wilson said she has always had the passion and drive of an entrepreneur, which made the creation of A+X Puzzles easy. When she was getting it up and running, she first displayed the puzzles to friends and family, taking in their comments, concerns and suggested changes. In February of 2019, the business was up and running.
One day, Wilson was visiting her favorite store, Target. She came across the Black History Month display that featured Black business owners like herself. She had a vision and determination to also be a part of this display soon. Originally, she just wanted a spot at the table for the Black History Month display.
She hunted down the person who handles the display through LinkedIn. After consulting with them, she got good business feedback, such as how much to sell the puzzles for. She then eventually got word Target was interested, but not in the way she was wanting it to happen.
“I’m still thinking at that moment, ‘Oh yes! Black history month!’ you know, not really understanding the timeline of when that would be,” she said. “I don’t want to say the rest is history, but pretty much, the rest is history. And now we’re in Target nationwide.”
On Aug. 8, 2021, A+X Puzzles hit the shelves of Target around the country, even being sold in big cities in Kansas. In her hometown store, she’s getting a lot of support.
“I am from Topeka,” she said. “Topeka High School. Hoy, hoy mighty Troy! The Topeka Target has been selling out of these puzzles like every other day. Because I am a Topeka girl, and the community is very supportive. So I appreciate it.”
What’s special about these puzzles? One reason is they help kids with development and imagination in a fun way. The games are also positive representations of children of color for all people, no matter their race.
“It is equally as important for non-Black children to see positive images of black and brown children,” she said. “So it’s both sides of the spectrum. That’s why the tag line is, ‘puzzles with you in mind’ because it’s for everybody.”
The puzzles are cartoons instead of landscapes and scenery. Wilson first started sketching the layouts when her twins were in the NICU. She works with a graphic designer to help turn the sketch into real drawings. Each puzzle also contains a story on the back.
Wilson is a single mother to her twins and wants her story for other women and mothers to show you can do anything you set your mind to if you just believe in yourself. Amanda no longer lives in Topeka, currently living with her twins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
A+X Puzzles are only available at Target stores and target.com.