September 23, 2021
Meet Goodfit Puzzles, MCA Denver’s New Shop Maker
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t picked up a puzzle in the last year and a half. Who doesn’t love the satisfaction you feel when you’ve fit those last few pieces together? And though we love the kind of puzzles you’d find at summer camp or a cabin you rented once in the mountains (you know, of dreamy landscapes or a pile of cuddling kittens) it might be time to consider some puzzle alternatives. Insert Goodfit Puzzles!
Husband and wife duo Bryan and Casey created Goodfit Puzzles in December of 2020 here in Denver. Goodfit’s collection of jigsaw puzzles showcases exclusive artwork from emerging talent and internationally recognized artists and are created using premium, recycled cardboard that is finished with a linen-texture. All of the contributing artists have chosen a cause that is important to them and Goodfit pledged 10% of every purchase to a charity that they've selected.
We chatted with Casey and Bryan to learn more about the origins of the biz, how puzzles encourage us to slow down, and the role of art in our daily lives.
Hey Casey and Bryan! First of all, how are you doing? How are you holding space for yourselves right now as things in the world shift and continue to feel and be hard?
Hey there! We’re lucky to say that despite the world being crazy right now, we feel like we’re generally doing pretty well. It’s really easy to see bad headlines daily and sort of just spiral, so as you mentioned it’s important to hold space for ourselves. For us, one of the biggest things is trying to minimize our personal social media exposure which can definitely make things feel more chaotic than they need to. Goodfit is pretty new and still very small, so the day to day of running a business also helps us to focus on what’s right in front of us. We’ve been doing a ton of local indie artisan markets in Colorado, and after a year of not seeing anyone it’s been incredible to meet new like-minded friends and explore new neighborhoods with these markets as our outlet. If there’s one thing we learned in the past year and a half it’s the importance of human connection!
You two created your small business during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in December of 2020. How was this process for you? Can you share what worked and what might have been challenging as you were bringing this idea to fruition?
It’s been a huge learning experience for us overall. We both have backgrounds in design and e-commerce that help us navigate, but we’re constantly running into things we don’t know and have to just learn by doing. It may sound silly, but I think both of us actually underestimated just how difficult starting up a business really is. We thought our idea was pretty simple and straightforward, but it’s hard! We have days where we think, “why did we do this?!” and other days where we feel like we’re on top of the world. I think that’s just a part of the whole experience.
Your collection of jigsaw puzzles showcase exclusive artwork from emerging talent and internationally recognized artists...something that resonates deeply with us here at MCA Denver! You also encourage folks to frame and hang up their puzzles after they’ve finished (or if they’re feeling bold, bring them along on a road trip.) How do you two see art functioning in our daily lives, in our homes, and in our relationships?
Art and design really is everywhere if you’re looking for it. Even out in nature, which is a huge part of our Colorado culture, our weird and wonderful world has its own interesting ways of creating organic designs and patterns that occur naturally. When we set out to make our puzzles, we always focus on trying to find artwork that inspires, initiates conversation, and sets a mood. We especially love when we’re working in-person events and see young children engage or become captivated by a particular piece featured on our puzzles - it just shows that connecting with these colors, patterns, and underlying stories within the art is innate and inside all of us. I think that surrounding ourselves with art in our daily lives is an important element to sparking joy - whether it’s artwork hung on our walls, use of colorful home accessories and plants, or even the choices we make in the clothes we wear. There are many ways we can inspire and express ourselves, and we’re happy to be able to add puzzling to the list.
During the pandemic—that we’re, of course, still very much in—many of us experienced a return to simple pleasures to pass time, such as completing a puzzle. Was this idea for your business very unique to the context you found yourselves in?
Definitely! Like a lot of people, we found ourselves getting into doing puzzles at home to pass the time in the early days of the pandemic. It started with a puzzle that we’d had on our shelf for a few years but had never completed. We set it up on our dining table and realized that we really enjoyed the quiet, quality time it allowed us to spend together. We started looking for other puzzles to do, but it was tough to find ones with images we actually liked. So many puzzles out there are either super dated stock images or really flat, uninspired illustrations made for mass appeal. We thought, what if we took all the components we feel are missing in puzzles - sleek design, premium quality, and compelling contemporary artwork - and created our own? We started brainstorming our idea in April 2020 and launched our website 8 months later!
There’s something about sitting around and completing a puzzle with friends and family, similar to sharing a meal around a table. Patience, conversation, and creativity are all present in these spaces. What makes this time special? Can you share a time when you were putting together a puzzle and what it meant to you?
We love that whether someone decides to do a puzzle solo or with friends, quality time and a mental reset are almost always guaranteed. Good conversation, teamwork and collaboration are some of our favorite things that can come out of puzzling with friends or family. It’s also such a great way to get away from the screens that seem to constantly surround us - it really lets you be present in the moment, and allows you to actually enjoy that music you’ve got playing or that glass of wine you’re sipping on. For us, I’d probably say the most memorable time we’ve done puzzles together is when we get to do our own puzzles for the very first time. Even though by that point we’ve already seen the artwork a million times while developing the product, there’s always still so many new things we notice when getting hands on with it and piecing it together as a puzzle - brushstrokes, textures, and tiny intentional decisions the artist has made that we never saw before. It’s such a fun discovery feeling and very rewarding.
In our society we’re always on the move—producing, consuming, and often failing to slow down and pause. Do you think sitting down and doing a puzzle somewhat resists the attention economy of this day and age?
Absolutely! It kind of goes back to what I mentioned about taking some time off from staring at a screen and spending time instead with something physical, interactive, and creative. It’s just good for our mental health and well-being. Overconsumption is definitely a huge issue in today’s society, which is one of the reasons we encourage framing our art puzzles once completed. You spent all that time and effort putting it together; why should you have to break it down and put it back into the box on the shelf? Now, puzzles can be treated like your new favorite piece of art, framed and hung up for all to admire and inspire - and to hopefully bring back memories of the quality moments you had while piecing it together.