Larsen Toy Lab
Tell us about your business.When we were little our dad made a beautiful set of building blocks from spare wood in his shop and it quickly became a treasured toy. Now, as passionate toy makers inspired by our dad’s ingenuity and relentless standards of quality, we have set out to rediscover the power of building blocks. How do we make them fun for all ages and different from the hundreds of other toy companies that make blocks? First, we compliment each of our block sets with custom engravings, original stories, games, or puzzles to create a completely new experience. Next, we give the same amount of love and care into making each block as our dad did for our first set; all blocks are individually sanded and beveled to ensure unmatched quality. The maple pieces are left bare while the cherry receive a light beeswax finish to bring out the natural beauty of wood. Plain and simple, our mission is to provide families with unforgettable toys that will last for generations.
What makes your business stand out?As a family with a passion for design and craftsmanship we believe simple and functional are words to live by; both of which seem to be completely ignored if you've walked down the aisles at Toys R Us recently. We believe Building Blocks don't need magnets, bright colors, or stickers; all they need is a naturally curious toddler and a teacher or parent to engage them. Our stories, games, and puzzles make it easier and more fun for parents to get involved in block play - and will act as a welcome break from technology without losing the entertainment value. We also don’t cut any corners in the manufacturing process: individually engraving, sanding, and finishing the blocks make them stand out from the crowd and enable them to hold up better to daily wear and tear. In the end, we believe the true test of what makes a great toy is how many generations it stays in the family.
What's the best business advice you've received?The best advice we've ever received was from a friend that suggested we launch a Kickstarter campaign. She said that it would force us to simplify our message and help understand who our customers were. That it did! Writing the script and shooting a 3 minute video forced us to concentrate on the most effective way of telling our story and explaining the products. We absolutely loved getting feedback directly from parents that were equally frustrated in the lack of natural, quality, American Made toys in the market. We were actually able to use some of the feedback and incorporate it into the product development process. Also, the $16,000 that we were able to raise went a long way toward launching 3 new products and validating our idea - it was a Win/ Win!
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 8, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.