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The Playwell Journey: Part Six

This is the sixth part of a series in which we follow the journey that brought Playwell Bricks’ own Jason Pyett from a stay-at-home-Dad to bespoke brick models designer to the CEO of an international design company. In Parts One through Five, we’ve watched Pyett’s passion for bricks evolve into workshops, robotics, his not-for-profit, and his first commission. In this part, we’ll learn how these experiences coalesced into the well-respected design company that Playwell Bricks is today.

After his first commission, Pyett wasn’t yet charging enough for his time, which led to a backlog of custom brick model orders. “That’s when I decided that I needed help,” he says.

Pyett put a call out for people who wanted to do brick design. From that initial call, Pyett interviewed twenty brick enthusiasts and hired six, gathering a team from all over the world, working in a variety of trades and disciplines.

At this point, Pyett and his team weren’t yet making a living wage. “We were making two dollars an hour or maybe five dollars if we were lucky,” but their passion sustained them.

Then came the break that changed everything. Stink Studios got in touch with Pyett and asked if Playwell Bricks could design some custom sets made from genuine LEGO® bricks for Google. And if we’ve learned anything in the first five parts of this journey, it’s that Pyett doesn’t say no to a challenge.

Since this was the biggest client Playwell Bricks had ever had, Pyett handled everything personally. “I did all the designs, I handled all the client communications, everything.” Unlike the personal commissions that Playwell Bricks had been designing, with Google, “we worked with a creative director hand in hand for the first time.”

Google wanted ten unique, custom sets. Initially, Playwell Bricks created ten of each set, but to date they’ve also sent out up to eight hundred follow-up sets. The most popular set is the Bug Hunter Mech. This was created for Google’s Bug Hunter program in which volunteers search down bugs within Google and get a bounty for them. The Bug Hunter Mech “was a lot of work,” Pyett recalls. “I think it had six major revisions to get it right, but it was worth it, because it is the most loved set to date.”

The Google commission changed the way Pyett looked at his business. Playwell Bricks raised their rates across the board and, in early 2023, made the decision that unless the team could make money on their commissions, they weren’t going to be taking them on anymore. More generally, this meant shifting out of personal commissions entirely and into corporate gifting, like the Google commission. One year in, “we’re doing it,” says Pyett.

Now Playwell Bricks is on the cusp of 2024 and waiting to see what will happen next, because if the last eight years have been any indication, this journey still has many unexpected turns and adventures in store. And we’ll be right here to share them with you as they come.

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