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  • Rachel G. Barnard

BIZ | Insider Update #3

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

I've been sending INSIDER UPDATES to a small group of people who are smart, fun, and eco-committed. If you would like to be added to the list please email me at In the meantime here's a sample update:

Hello you brilliant big-brained people,

I'm under advisement from one of Big Brain Boxes counsel, Raja Mawad, that the proper cadence for updates is weekly. Woah, okay!

Mission: At Big Brain Box we make brilliant cardboard toys that are designed to last only as long as your kids need them. No more permanent plastics. No more endless kid clutter.

Key Updates: We are focusing on two parallel goals 1) talking to eco-conscious parents about their pain points with toys and playing (testing product ideas) with their kids, 2) developing the product.

Asks: I REALLY need to speak with more eco-conscious parents! Please forward this invitation to all the cool parents in your life, ideally with kids between the ages of 3 and 12.

Highs: It's really fun starting a toy company. We seem to have nailed the "problem" and we are working hard on refining and testing our "solution". We are aiming to launch a kickstarter October 17 so we can get people their BBB toys in time for the holidays.

Lows (honestly this is more of a fun challenge): Durability. Most parents have shared their biggest hesitation in buying BBB toys would be concerns around durability. So I'm working on (1) materiality (it seems like corrugated cardboard isn't going to cut the mustard) and (2) product positioning. Perhaps we launch with (as more than one parent has suggested) Travel Toys in time for the holidays—well packed toy sets that are fun and engaging, but also you don't mind if you accidentally leave them at grandmas. To solve the pollution/clutter issue there needs to be a habit of "releasing" toys once we've finished with them and not needing things to be in our lives forever. This is a (really) big cultural change so we need to introduce this idea almost subversively (one of my personal favorite power moves) with toy products that already lean towards disposability.

Above: Sample table prototype hand painted by yours truly! Much refinement needed but we are getting there! The main thing is kids let me know they wanted it to be brighter from previous samples, shown below, which I thought were cool because they were kind of like eames modernist furniture with the natural wood grain of the cardboard... but my nieces were like "what are you talking about Auntie Rachel?"

Below: These are the first ones, hand cut from shoe boxes.

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