Amanda Wilson is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of A+X Puzzles. She founded the firm in 2019 after realizing the lack of diversity in puzzles while pregnant. Creating puzzles perfectly suits Wilson’s passion as she has always been a lover of games and puzzles.
For over seven years, Wilson has worked as an event programmer in the arts and culture sector and this has helped her design creative and imaginative images for the puzzles. According to her, she was encouraged throughout the process by her mentor, Ana Rodriguez.
“She always reminds me to stay tenacious and to clearly ask for what I want and need,” Wilson told BOTWC. “I didn’t think people cared about who is behind the business, but they do. You are your biggest marketing tool.”
When Wilson gave birth to her twins Adric and Xola ten weeks earlier, she spent her time creating the first sketches of the widely popular Spaceship puzzle during their 43 days in NICU. She wanted to give children of color, particularly Black children, the chance to see themselves in popular games they play.
Today, her puzzle brand has become the first Black-owned to be sold in over 1,750 Target stores nationwide. She was contacted by Target in 2020 to sell her puzzles in stores. “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 said.
Wilson’s success has not been smooth sailing. She encountered a number of challenges in her entrepreneurial journey. According to her, being a mother and a full-time employer as an event programmer was not easy.
“One of the hardest things has been being a one-woman show. I don’t have any staff at this time. Since the pandemic, I have been balancing a full-time job, twin toddlers at home with me, and my business scaling so quickly. I’ve had to become extremely disciplined,” she said.
Also, funding was a major challenge for her. Not many startup investors were willing to bet on her. She told BOTWC that she is currently working on helping other small businesses to overcome the constraints she faced.
“One thing that has been painfully obvious to me is that ‘start up’ companies don’t need more mentors, we need more upfront capital, and that is something that I’ve become extremely passionate about, and I’m currently working to help small businesses navigate their way through the different processes,” she noted.