We are in the process of finalizing our 2011 product line up. This will be our 3rd year. We will be introducing our 4th catalog. We have come so far from our first catalog. Our first catalog had 6 puzzle lines and was 12 pages with lots of room between products. I still love looking at that catalog. The 6 lines were the basics (50pc, 100pc, 500pc, 1000pc, panoramic puzzles and a sphere shape). There were a few artists, but mainly photographic puzzles. I love that first catalog. It was small, but it was proof we existed and were ready to be judged by folks who put together puzzles. The first catalog did not last long. We quickly introduced a second catalog 6 months later that had more artists, unique formats (Chalkboard, Fuzzle, Cling, etc), and even new packaging.
Last week, the whole LPF team was together finalizing our 2011 line. We will introduce the line in Dallas in October. It was hard not to remenisce a little as we went through the process. We laughed about previous years. We remembered who had good ideas and joked about others that never got off the ground.
It feels like we are getting ready for our junior year in high school (with a child going to be a sophomore in high school, I spend time thinking about transitions). Freshman year (our first year) we were unsure exactly what to expect from retailers and puzzlers. We were hopeful, knew that we had been well prepared, and above all hoped we would survive. As that first year went on, we grew more confident. We realized that we could play and survive against the bigger "seniors". We were accepted by folks and started to find our niche.
This last year has been our sophomore year. We were no longer green behind the ears and knew what to expect. We were more comfortable and stepped out of our comfort zone a bit more. People knew our names and actually sought us out. The seniors did not seem so scary and we realized they were just like us, only older. As sophomores we were hungry and not afraid to be a little pushy. It has paid off well.
And so now, during this summer, we prepare for our junior year. We feel comfortable. We have a few scars, but overall we are ready for the coming year and beyond. We now talk about longer range plans. We are ready to take on more responsibility and leadership. We have proven to ourselves and to others we belong.
These first years have flown by. We do not spend much time thinking about the past. My focus is on the future. I am motivated by the kind letters, e-mails and phone calls we receive. Words of thanks from families who have tried our puzzles and like them. They want to buy more. They want us to sell them in stores closer to their homes. We hear the calls and we use them as motivation to push harder.
I have said it before, starting the Lafayette Puzzle Factory is the hardest thing I have ever done. And it is the most fun thing I have ever done.
Keep checking back to the blog. I promise to be better about updates. We have some neat things coming up and I can not wait share these with you in the next few weeks and months. I might even post a few more embarassing pictures of me at different events.