This week I interviewed an amazing small business @lepuzzles !
- Tell me a bit about yourself:
“Alistair: I’m a photographer who specializes in still life. I am also a collector of many things which I often use in my photography. My collections include but are not limited to: miniatures, novelty candles, fake food, vintage puzzles and novelty lamps.
Michael: These days I’m bouncing around New York as a part-time stay at home dad. I enjoy making paintings (but that happens less and less these days). I’m a record and tape collector, puzzle collector, book collector, tattoo collector.
We’ve been friends for a long while and met in Chicago in probably (2008?) in art school in a Japanese literature class.”
2. What inspired you to start your business? How did you come up with your business name?
“LP: We love puzzles and are continuously inspired by the rich history of vintage puzzles. We felt like there were certain things about our favorite puzzles that were not being represented on the market. We wanted to take our favorite aspects of those older puzzles and translate them into a new product. Le Puzz is our attempt at distilling all that inspiration into something new. Early on we made a checklist of things that we always hoped to to find in a good puzzle and we made sure Le Puzz checked all those boxes.
As for our name (lol!) after a lot of back and forth pitching names (of course all of Michael’s were amazing!) one of them was Le Puzz. We both loved it so much because we already always referred to puzzles as puzz’s. There’s a little puzzle within the name – if you move Le to the back in front of Puzz, it spells puzzle!! We were kind of surprised no one had taken that one yet but also I think Le Puzz in Italian is pretty close to “the stink”, which is probably why and just for the record we are 100% ok with that.”
3. How do you pick an image that ends up becoming one of your puzzles?
“LP: For our first series we were working a lot with items we already had in the studio since the pandemic had limited our ability to source things to photograph. Luckily I have several collections of interesting items that served as the inspiration for our first group. There are so many fun tropes to draw from in vintage puzzles like piles of fruit or collections of objects, we just do our best to bring them into a more contemporary setting. Moving forward with future collections we make lists of ideas and the ones we both like the most often just float to the top. We also work a lot with how an image falls on top of a die-line, is it too easy, too hard or just hard enough?”
4. What are your best selling puzzles and why do you think they are so popular?
“A: It’s interesting, we have 4 puzzles that are almost neck and neck with sales. Juicy, Oops!, Match Made in Heaven and Lighten Up were all selling at relatively the same speed. It seems like the fruit theme is the most universally appreciated but our Matches puzzle has been really popular – maybe because it’s one of our 1000 pieces puzzles which is popular with the seasoned puzzlers out there. Matches is also super fun to put together, each matchbook is like it’s own mini puzzle =)”
5. What’s the hardest puzzle you ever did? What made it so difficult to complete?
“A: The hardest puzzle from Le Puzz is definitely I Stickers. There isn’t any negative space in that one it’s all information and some of the stickers repeat, just when you think you’ve found where something goes you’ll realize it’s a different sticker. After we made it we were both like, WHOA, this is going to be impossible. Thankfully it’s still super fun to do and all the small details really pop out the more time you spend with it. Michael completed it with his family over the holidays this past year, it was a marathon of 6-7 people working on it around the clock.
More recently, the hardest non-Le Puzz puzzle I’ve done was this B. Kliban Momcat puzzle from the 80’s. It was so hard because the focus of the puzzle is a big orange cat which has a lot of similar markings on it. It’s surrounded by a giant blank white space which leaves you with about 200 totally white pieces that all look exactly the same. This puzzle was ribbon so the pieces were relatively uniform which made it so much harder! With random cut pieces at least you have shapes to look for but in the case it’s just a matter of trying them all until you find the one that fits. Maddening!”
6. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
“A: Yes! Our second series is launching soon! We have 6 new puzzles launching this spring that we’re so excited about!! We also want to dip our toe into the merch-pool a bit, we have a hand full of funny ideas for stickers, totes, hats and more! We’re also developing a line of mini-puzzles that we’re absolutely obsessed with! We promise to have those out in time for the holidays.”
If you like to learn more about this great small business. The following contact information is below:
Thank you so much Alistair and Michael for the interview!!!!
Until next time!!