Tell us about your company and services.
Dope Pieces Puzzle Company specializes in jigsaw puzzles that feature fine art pieces from Artists of Color. Basically, I make dope puzzles using the artwork of very dope artists! We really want to focus on images and artists that positively represent the Black and Brown diaspora.
Why is art so important to our culture?
Art is one of the ways that culture is captured, expressed and represented. The piece acts as a visual time capsule for our experiences, it is a reflection of a time, place, a feeling, or a Movement. Art in its own way is proof that we exist and have existed. The importance of art cannot be summed up in a single paragraph, it means different things to different people, but if art is nothing else it is representation of who we are and what is meaningful to us as a people.
What has this experience done for the artists?
Most of the artists that I work with are already established and have a very strong following. However, having their art in puzzle form has allowed their work to reach new audiences and has created new followers. I have sent puzzles to Germany, Canada, the US Virgin Islands, and Brazil.
Each Artist has been offered the opportunity to be featured in a national magazine and the puzzles are sold in the Denver Art Museum gift store and seven other stores. My goal from the beginning has been to work with talented artists and be a vehicle to spread their work across new markets and we are doing that!
How do you select the artists?
For me it starts with the work, I will see a piece that catches my eye, or I connect with the message of the piece, and I start looking for more work from the artist. I am looking for an artist that has at least four strong images that I can choose from. Once I have fallen in love with a piece, I reach out and ask if they would be open to work with me.
What impact have you seen from your product?
People feel seen, represented, proud and BEAUTIFUL. Part of our mission statement reads that we work with artists that positively represent the Black and Brown diaspora and the images that have been created by each artist depicts us as strong, royal, elegant, natural, spiritual, and proud. I have gotten numerous notes, text, and messages from people sharing how much it meant to them to see images of Black people on puzzles. They share how they have been puzzlers for years and this was the first time they saw beautiful Black people. It is more than just a puzzle; it is a puzzle that they connect with on a deeper level.
What does success look like for you?
Success for Dope Pieces is twofold, we want to diversify shelves with more dope, culturally diverse options. When you walk into a store to pick out the perfect gift, we are an option.
Second, our artists are very important to us, and we want to do as much as we can to provide opportunities and exposure. If we can be a catalyst to push art and artists to the next level, we will count it as a success.
What's next for DOPE Pieces?
We are working on going worldwide!! My favorite thing about the company is that as we grow, we have the opportunity to grow the footprint of the artists that we work with. We are working on getting into more stores in more cities. The goal for 2022 is 10 new cities! The puzzles are currently carried in 8 locations and by the end of the year we look to double that number. We are also taking steps to get into big box stores. Dope Pieces was selected as one of 30 companies to participate in Target's Forward Founders Program. It is an accelerator program for CPG companies looking to better understand retail. The program helps prepare early-stage companies to be better prepared to enter the big box retail space.
We also want to get out more and meet people face to face, check out our social media to find out where we will be vending, visiting, and hosting events.
Dope Pieces will be rebranding and upgrading all the way around! The company is in a growth phase, and we want to keep evolving.
How Can we Follow You?
Website: Dope Pieces Puzzle Company – Dopepieces.art
FB: DOPE Pieces Puzzle Company
LinkedIn: (36) Kris Hale | LinkedIn
About Kris Hale, Founder of Dope Pieces Puzzle Company
Hale was inspired by all of the artists and art around her to find a vehicle to get more pieces out to the world. At the same time Hale was disappointed by the lack of Black representation she was finding in the puzzle and game industry where consumers spend over $11B annually. As an active puzzler since the age of five, Hale knew there was an enthusiastic Black puzzler community. However, similar to her own experience, the community had always lamented the inability to find puzzles with imagery that reflected their own experiences and culture. Hale was determined to connect the artists that needed more visibility for their work to the puzzling community that craved more representative puzzles. It was then that Dope Pieces Puzzle Company was born.
Hale hopes the company will play an integral role in the New Black Renaissance that is being driven by an intentional cultural shift in the Black community. A shift that is steeped in economic empowerment through conscious consumerism (buying Black), and driven by a new mandate that says, “We will be visible and will only support brands that affirm and feature our full existence.”
Prior to launching Dope Pieces Puzzle Company Kris worked in roles serving as the woman behind visionaries, supporting organizations such as the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Phoenix Leadership Academy, Operation HOPE, and the YMCA.
Hale resides in Atlanta, Georgia where she is active in the Black business community. She spends her free time as a new cycling enthusiast, hiking, and scouting out new artists for Dope Pieces Puzzle Company.