Living in the Bay Area and looking for an alternative lifestyle, I started selling stained glass on the streets in San Francisco in 1974. Some good friends were making wooden puzzles and were also selling on the streets. Warren Simmons–the developer of Pier 39 in San Francisco–approached them about opening a store. They said yes and asked me to join them in the venture. In 1976 I quit my full-time job as a waitress at Denny’s to make puzzles full time and moved to the foothills. I married and my husband and I purchased four acres in Weimar where I still live today.
Meanwhile, the business grew into a corporation that at its peak grossed half a million dollars a year. Unfortunately, this lifestyle was very demanding and was the opposite of everything we wanted. This caused us to pull back and reimagine how we wanted our lives to be. So, we split the company. My partners kept the wholesale side of the business, and my husband and I took the craft fair business. In 1981, my husband and I started to make the puzzles in our barn here in Weimar and sold them at craft fairs on the west coast. Our customers dubbed my husband The Puzzle Man and we continue to use that name.
We have been making puzzles for over 40 years now! Our puzzles are individually hand-crafted using wood from sustainable forests. The designs are either drawn or silk-screened on, then the puzzles are cut one at a time on our scroll saws. The pieces are colored with non-toxic stains and a clear finish so the puzzles are child safe. We also make free replacement pieces. Some of our most popular puzzles are the USA Map with states and capitals, the ABC Turtle that teaches upper and lower case letters, and our personalized Name Puzzles. We ship all over the world.
While selling at craft fairs, I also returned to school to get a teaching degree. I began my teaching career in 2000 and my husband continued to go to the craft fairs. We also created our own website to reach more customers. We continued to do craft fairs until 2018 and now sell from our home, on Etsy, and on our own website. Unfortunately, my husband died in September of 2019, so I have been doing all parts of the business. I retired from teaching in June 2021 and continue to make and sell our puzzles.