How JIGGY Founder Kaylin Marcotte Solved Quarantine Boredom Before The Covid-19 Pandemic
Kaylin Marcotte, founder of JIGGY, took a leap of faith into a pastime that kept her grounded while working at TheSkimm during its early stages: Puzzles.
Her business, which launched last November, boomed when Covid-19 hit, a surprise silver lining to the pandemic. But her interest in puzzles, fostered before coronavirus, stemmed from a different place.
“I was looking for a way to unwind,” she said.
Marcotte began working at TheSkimm after the company went through its first round of seed funding and stayed there for four years. It was an amazing experience, she said, but also one that was all consuming and, often, stressful.
She wanted to find an activity that would help her focus and stay present.
“I am a chronic multitasker and am always overstimulated,” she said, giving a laundry list of examples including checking her phone and email while watching television.
After testing a few options, she landed on jigsaw puzzles.
“I was doing a 1,000 piece puzzle every week,” she said, noting she would spend around a half hour on the activity to wind down before bed each night.
And there are benefits beyond relaxation, too. Puzzles have been found to potentially benefit cognition over a prolonged period of time, according to a 2018 study published in the “Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience” journal.
But there was one pitfall: The available selection of puzzles wasn’t visually appealing.
“All the options were super cheesy stock photography, watercolor animals and landscapes and stuff,” she said.
In 2015, she took it upon herself to “reinvent” puzzles. Marcotte began saving shots of different art she found on Instagram or saw while visiting galleries to a folder on her phone.
Then, in 2017 she left TheSkimm and started working on JIGGY full time.
The idea went beyond creating more modern, aesthetically pleasing puzzles. Marcotte wanted to support women in the art community. The pieces featured in the JIGGY’s collections are all created by emerging female artists. And the puzzles can actually double as pieces of art. Each order comes complete with a tube of clear-drying glue, giving the customer the opportunity to turn the puzzle into a permanent print.
Marcotte launched JIGGY in November 2019. After the holiday season, at the beginning of 2020, business slowed, as expected, so she took the time to map out the year- Mother’s Day, she thought, would be a big moment.
Little did Marcotte know that the coronavirus pandemic, which had infected nearly 13 million people worldwide, and has killed more than 573,000, according to Johns Hopkins data as of Tuesday, would bring the world to a standstill, closing restaurants, stores, gyms and public spaces and confining the masses to their homes.
In the middle of March, as coronavirus began to ensnare itself in communities across the United States, Marcotte saw an uptick of her own.
Sales were up 550% and traffic saw a 250% rise as well.
“I think everyone’s looking for indoor activities to occupy time and mind,” Marcotte said. “With ours supporting artists, I think people felt good about that in such tough times too.”
Going into April, JIGGY sold out.
“[We] rushed back into production and licensed some new artists,” Marcotte said, but in the meantime, she faced an issue: The supply chain lost its flexibility due to the virus.
Knowing she would sell out again in less than two months, Marcotte had to get creative. To keep up the momentum, she came up with the concept for JIGGY Originals.
She purchased blank puzzles and offered them to New York based artists, asking them to paint directly onto the blanks creating unique, frame-worthy puzzles that could be auctioned off as art. Proceeds for the auctioned off pieces are split between the artist and donating the rest, after covering production cost, to Artist Relief and Covid-19 relief in New York City. This time, she brought in male artists, too, all were New York City-based.
The Originals, like the collection puzzles, were a hit. One even sold for more than $4,000 according to Marcotte. While she plans to continue the Originals through the summer, JIGGY has also launched a summer collection: “Summer 2020: Staycation,”which is available now.
For some, JIGGY puzzles have become more than a solution to lockdown-induced boredom, Marcotte said, noting that some clients have told her their puzzles have become keepsakes of the time period.
“I think one thing that has been so gratifying about having a product people are connecting with right now is seeing the impact it’s having for them,” she said, noting that many of the puzzles sold have been gifts meant for others, possibly quarantining alone.
It’s been special, she said, being able to help provide even a small moment of escape for so many during the pandemic.
Looking ahead, Marcotte is excited to see what the future may hold for puzzlers and whether this bump in puzzle popularity is a moment in time or a lasting resurgence.
Photo Source: KAYLIN MARCOTTE