Why I quit my day job to make toys
Hey y’all, it’s Dustin. I have some big news.
Starting today, I am the first ever full-time employee for Timbrook Toys, which is now a legit LLC thanks to a lot of hard work and planning by Molly.
What we thought would be a fun little art project to share with our friends has blown up into something much bigger than we could have expected. When I originally shared the prototype of Hedge Lord in March 2018, we were hoping for twenty or so friends to take a chance on our handmade board game. Hedge Lord pre-orders quickly ballooned to 100 and, after a lot of word of mouth, a TV appearance, and excellent print coverage, our total pre-orders have now reached over 300.
This surprise popularity has been both a blessing and a major source of anxiety. Making good on your orders has required many late nights of grueling production and months of problem solving to find better methods, facilities, and tools to produce the games. Over a year later we’ve finally delivered those first 100+ orders that we took on Facebook while also holding down full-time jobs, getting married, rescuing a special needs dog, and buying our first home. Phew!
Deciding to quit my day job was not so much a leap of faith as a matter of necessity. We don’t want to keep the next 200 customers waiting for ages to get their games, nor do we want to continue coming home from work to cut and assemble wooden mazes until midnight. Going full-time will help us deliver your games faster while also allowing us to get a decent night’s sleep for a change.
Practical concerns aside, I don’t want to lose sight of how exciting this development is for Molly and me. I’ve been able to leverage my creativity to earn a living in the past but, until now, most of the paying creative ventures I’ve entered have been in service of other people’s businesses. Although client commissions and marketing have been rewarding work, nothing can compare to the opportunity to earn a living from personal creations. Hedge Lord is the first truly personal project in my 35 years as an artist that has had serious financial viability, and I get to work on it with my wife!
The value in what we are creating was truly cemented at the recent “Hedge Lord Hullabaloo” at Lowe Mill and Innerspace Brewing. There wasn’t a massive turnout for the events but we found a much better reward than a big crowd. A handful of strangers wandering the halls of the Mill were intrigued enough by the look of our game to sit down and try it out. Most of them enjoyed the demo so much that they showed up hours later to participate in our first ever tournament at the brewery. The scene by the end of the night was like something from a Norman Rockwell illustration. These completely random families, couples, and individuals who had no connection earlier in the day were now huddled around the finalists, carefully observing every move of the match. Seeing total strangers truly connect around the game we created has been one of the most rewarding moments of this adventure so far, and the perfect reminder of why we have put in so many sleepless nights at the shop.
Designing even more of these opportunities for face-to-face connections, fun, and critical thinking is the mission at Timbrook Toys. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and I’m extremely excited to finally take the side-hustle training wheels off and chase this goal full-time. Thank you so much to everyone who has made this move possible. Whether you pre-ordered games, shared our story with your friends, helped us with tools and resources, or invested in our startup, I can’t thank you enough. Wish us luck!