Mchezo, the latest brand in the Webbed Sphere family of hobby and game companies, now offering jigsaw enthusiasts puzzles with ties to the local area
Mchezo Inc., a jigsaw puzzle publisher based in Corbin, KY, is officially announcing its formation and plans to enter the $660 million domestic jigsaw puzzle market starting this year. The company plans to have 20 releases by January 2021.
“Jigsaw puzzles have the power to really bring people together,” said Jonathon Huston, owner and founder of Mchezo. “Just set one out on a table and, invariably, people will spontaneously start working on it together. They are a source of joy that we’ve all experienced. My goal with Mchezo is to create high quality puzzles with captivating artwork and, most importantly, that are fun to put together.”
Huston, the son of missionaries, spent most of his youth living in East Africa. His experience abroad has a significant influence on his worldview. The word “Mchezo” is a Swahili word that means “game” or “to play.”
“I think everyone, no matter their age, loves to play,” Huston said. “I hope anyone who sits down with a Mchezo puzzle finds it a satisfying diversion from the worries and concerns of the everyday world.”
Huston is an experienced entrepreneur who first founded Troll and Toad (www.trollandtoad.com)
26 years ago in his garage. It is currently one of the largest online retailers in the hobby game market today. Mchezo, his latest venture, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Webbed Sphere — the parent company to nine different enterprise businesses operating out of the former 25-acre American Greeting Card factory in north Corbin.
Mchezo will include three branded puzzle lines initially: Depot Street, sentimental puzzles focused on small town America and nostalgia for the nation’s past; Oodles, relaxing and engaging puzzles that feature collections of images, ideas and concepts; and Gamosis, puzzles inspired by an affinity for the 1980s and gamer culture.
“We are always looking to diversify our company with opportunities that fit our vision and talents,” said John Ward, CEO of Webbed Sphere. “I think people are going to really appreciate and enjoy the
puzzles produced by Mchezo and its brands. We have a passion for producing jigsaw puzzles and we want our customers to see that for themselves the very first time they experience one of our products.”
Ed Bryan, President of Mchezo, said the company plans to release four puzzles in November, another six in December, and 10 in January 2021. The releases will cover a broad range of image styles and design aesthetic.
“A lot of thought and effort has been put into the design of our puzzles and I think there is something in our first 20 releases that will appeal to just about anyone,” Bryan said. “I am especially proud that on many of our puzzles Mchezo is working with Kentucky photographers, artists and designers, because there is so much talent in our state. We want to stay loyal to our state and support Kentucky’s artistic community.”
Answering the question of “why now” to start a puzzle company, Huston explained, “Puzzles have already been on the upswing for a number of years. Then, when COVID hit, people really began to realize that there are a lot of cool puzzles out there. Virtually every store in America sold every puzzle that they had in March and in April.”
Now Huston is hoping that many of those folks, who turned to jigsaw puzzles during recent times of covid-related lockdown, will decide to stick with the hobby moving forward. “It helped that they got real hot right at about the same time that we were considering doing them, so we decided to just go ahead and start the puzzle company,” he said.
As an added bonus, Huston added, “If you’re sitting at home doing a puzzle, chances are you can’t get covid…”
As for some of his pro tips when it comes to putting puzzles together, Huston himself prefers to NOT construct the border first. “I read a survey online that said about 65 percent of people do the border first,” he said. “Then there are about 35 percent who do not. I am one of the ones that does not.”
Instead, Huston said that he prefers to put the border together about midway through, only after he has already constructed some of the other elements in the puzzle. Once finished, he suggested to either display a completed puzzle in a frame, or put it back on the shelf to revisit it again at some point in the future. He said that he does not recommend gluing a puzzle together, as it effectively ruins it, making future use impossible.
Mchezo plans to produce 2-4 new puzzles each month. More information on their current and upcoming offerings can be found by visiting them online at www.mchezo.com.