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Wow! We reached our minimum funding goal and are well on our way to getting girls (and boys!) building! Let's keep going, because the more people who pledge and pre-order Build & Imagine StoryWalls play-sets, the bigger impact we'll have on girls in STEM.
So let's get StoryWalls into the hands of as many kids as we can!
Meet Build & Imagine StoryWalls
Recommended for ages 4-10.
Each Build & Imagine play-set is composed of painted wooden panels, called StoryWalls, and accompanying wooden dolls. Children can combine the StoryWalls into any structural design they choose, and they magnetically snap together. The illustrations on each wall artfully combine to create scenes that act as a launching pad for the child’s imagination.
In the spring of 2013 Laurie Peterson founded Build & Imagine after noticing that the kind of play experiences she loved as a child (building, problem solving, designing and experimenting) were not reflected in the “girls” section of the toy store. She aims to create construction toys that her daughter -- and your daughters and sons -- will love. This campaign is raising support for Build & Imagine's first product line.
Why construction toys designed for girls?
What we play with matters.
Construction toys (also known as building toys) are the hottest category in the toy industry, yet historically 90% of these toys have targeted boys. Girls are missing out because construction toys help to develop important spatial reasoning and design skills that are prerequisites to succeed in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These are fields in which women make up only 24% of the workforce, leading to what the President has termed a “gender gap in innovation”. Toys can make a difference.
The design principle Laurie uses to get girls excited about construction is simple: building should facilitate imaginative play. Rather than designing with abstract bricks and shapes, children construct scenes that are as rich and beautiful as a storybook.
We’re launching with three play-sets
Each Build & Imagine StoryWalls play-set comes with illustrated dolls and magnetic panels that children can combine into any configuration they choose. The first three play-sets work together in a coastal theme.
Malia’s Beach House
Best friends Emily and Malia love hanging out in Malia’s modern beach front eco-house after school. When they are not playing with her pets or goofing off in the pool, these friends enjoy learning about the environment and recently convinced Malia’s parents to allow them plant a veggie garden.
• “Emily” and “Malia” dolls
• Swimming pool
• Veggie garden
• Functioning front door
• Living room
• 2 bathrooms
• Driveway with electric car
• Solar panel roof
Marine Rescue Center
Join Thea on her quest to save marine animals at the Marine Rescue Center. The Marine Rescue Center is a floating rescue post, hospital, and rehab center for marine mammals and turtles. Give a turtle an exam, feed a baby dolphin, or go on a rescue mission. Thea especially loves the opportunity to release her marine friends back into the ocean.
• “Thea” doll; a budding scientist, animal lover, and rescue center intern.
• Medical exam room
• Marine mammal rehab pools
• Rescue gear closet
• Underwater observatory
• Lots of marine animals!
Samantha “Sam” and Lukas can’t wait to return to their summer jobs at the Surfside café. Between working the café window, the surf shop register, and the lifeguard stand, there is always action to keep them busy. Sam loves math and prides herself on adding up her customers’ orders all in her head. When Sam and Lukas do get a break, these fun loving entrepreneurs head for the surf.
• “Samantha” and “Lukas” dolls; café workers and volunteer lifeguards.
• Walk-up café window with functioning shutters
• Lifeguard stand
• Surf shop
• Beach scene
Why do kids love Build & Imagine StoryWalls?
“It’s better than [other building toys] because there are pictures. I like pictures better than plain things.” - 7 year old play tester
That is a perfect summary of what makes our play-sets special. Rather than building with abstract bricks or shapes, you’re creating a detailed scene that has tons of jumping off points for storytelling with the included dolls.
Why do parents love StoryWalls?
Build & Imagine StoryWalls exercise important skills including:
• Spatial reasoning
• Decision-making & experimentation
• Geometry & engineering
• Creativity & design
• Collaboration & planning
• Imaginative play
StoryWalls play-sets are made from wood, easy to set up and clean up, look good in your home, explore aspirational STEM themes as well as familiar ones, and are appealing to both girls and boys.
Founder Laurie Peterson is an award-winning toy designer with almost a decade of experience designing and marketing toys. In 2011 she earned her MBA from Haas school of Business at UC Berkeley with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Laurie was a toy designer and marketer for Leapfrog, the leading educational electronic toy company. Most recently she was VP of Marketing for Sifteo, a tech toy start-up creating a new tactile game system called Sifteo Cubes. Laurie’s products have won top industry awards including the “Most Educational Toy of the Year”, “Most Innovative Toy of the Year“, and “Best Toy of the Year” from the Toy Industry Association.
Cathi Mingus is an established children’s book illustrator. Her partial client list includes American Girl, Scholastic, Penquin Group, Mudpuppy, and Discovery Girl Magazine. Cathi specializes in illustrating for girls, and develops characters and worlds that appeal to young children though teens.
How Kickstarter Works
Pledge any amount you would like and choose one of the listed incentives as your reward. If the total pledges meet our $20,000 goal by November 25, 2013, the credit cards of our backers will be charged and we’ll receive the funds to complete our product design! If we don't meet our goal, your pledge money won’t be withdrawn from your account and no incentives are provided.
Your support means go/no-go for this project, so we can’t begin to tell you how much it means to us.
Kickstarter backers have the opportunity to pre-order the first three Build & Imagine StoryWalls play-sets, and receive them in advance of stores.
We also have exclusive customizations and recognitions that we’re only offering though Kickstarter. Choose from:
• Custom Doll: Send us a photo of a child and we’ll create a doll just for you!
• Custom Room: Send us a photo of a child’s favorite room and we’ll design a special StoryWall just for you!
• Favorite Pet: Have a pet that is so awesome it deserves to be shared with kids across the world? Send us your pet’s photo and an illustration of your pet will be included in one of our first three play-sets (everybody’s play-set, not just yours).
Please help us reach our goal!
If you believe, like we do, that toys can help give girls a leg up in STEM, please help us reach our goal by pre-ordering and sharing our campaign. Donating a small dollar amount or posting a link to the campaign on your facebook page can make a big difference.
Our Kickstarter goal of $20,000, added to our own investment, will cover the costs to complete the industrial design and illustrations for our first three play-sets. If we far exceed this goal the additional money will go towards funding our initial manufacturing run, which would be amazing! If we don’t raise above and beyond, we’ll partner with our manufacturer to cover the remaining costs of manufacturing the first run. We’re dedicated to bringing this product to market for holiday of 2014, and greatly appreciate whatever support you can give.
We’ve completed product definition, prototyping, sample illustration, and user testing (parents and kids gave it two thumbs up!). Note that some of the illustrations shown in the video and photos are placeholders. Here is a breakdown of upcoming milestones:
Jan: Illustrations and industrial design complete
Feb: Meet with retailers at Toy Fair
April: Safety certifications complete
Aug: Play-sets delivered to kickstarter backers. Woo-hoo! Thank you!
Sept: Play-sets delivered to stores
Oct: Available in specialty toy and gift stores
A huge thanks goes out to Jay Dabatos (my video production hero), Rachel Jenkins, Sarah Crane Newman, Kristine Taylor, and Goldy Bardin for their help making an awesome video! I also want to thank Andrew Peterson (supportive husband), Avery Peterson (world’s best in-house toy tester), the families who volunteered to test the prototype, John and Elizabeth Wilson (awesome parents), and James Sansa-Ngasakun (my favorite designer) for their ongoing support. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
Build & Imagine StoryWalls is a new innovation from a brand new toy company, made possible through your backing. All that “newness” brings a lot of risk and challenges. We think that’s exciting, and hope you see it that way too.
• Adapting our prototype to fit manufacturing processes and standards
• Material sourcing (particularly for magnets which have fluctuating prices)
• Passing safety certifications
• Quality control during the manufacturing process
• Developing an infrastructure for logistics, which will help to ensure we ship to backers on time
We know we’ll encounter other challenges along the way and want to assure you that we’re fully committed to Build & Imagine, and to every one of our backers who help make it a reality. We will stay in touch along the way so that you know how the project is developing.
WARNING: This product contains small magnets. Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious infections and death. Seek immediate medical attention if magnet(s) are swallowed or inhaled. Not for children under the age of 3.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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