This week, October 25th, is Clever Noodle’s first birthday, and what an unbelievable year it has been!
THANK YOU. I'm so grateful for your support and belief in our women-owned, mom-led company. Most importantly, with every game – you help expand our impact and combat our national literacy crisis. Every day, I am inspired by YOU, our community of passionate families and educators who want learn-to-read games that are really fun and highly effective, based on cutting-edge science. We are heartened by your feedback and beyond delighted to hear that children are laughing, learning and loving the game – and asking to play again and again. We’re so honored and happy to be part of your children’s reading journeys.
We will always bring you super fun and highly effective learn-to-read toys and games that are based on the Science of Reading – and are sustainably made, non-toxic for children, and good for our earth. Plus, plastic-free! We want children getting off screens (!); engaging with family, friends and classmates socially; and having a blast playing.
We are grateful to our wonderful artists, often up-and-comers themselves, who create our beautiful and visually enticing games for children. And, we appreciate the generous support and advice of other toy company founders and retailers who believe in our mission of helping every child become a great reader, a game at a time. I am surrounded by a passionate team of people committed to creating fun, effective, and scalable ways to help children read.
Never could I have imagined that together we would be at this exciting point, especially not in the dark days of the pandemic when my own son struggled to read. Not only is my son once again flourishing in school, but we are getting great feedback on how our first game is helping other children make meaningful progress too. That makes our hearts smile. Thanks to you, over 10,000 Kangaroo Cravings games are in classrooms and homes across the country, helping children with their reading! And, we are on track to introduce 8 more games and toys in 2024.
Of course, like any startup up, we’ve had a year of highs …. and some bumps along the way, including our games being lost on the high seas, our fulfillment company being acquired by the largest in the world literally the week we expected to be shipping to you and causing serious delays, and manufacturing costs skyrocketing. We had to find a new manufacturer to ensure affordability, and you extended patient grace with delayed shipping of your game. But through it all, our team followed our core value: persistent optimism and 100% commitment to bringing you high-value, fun and effective learn-to-read games because we knew it mattered, and you were counting on us. You have made our small, but mighty company possible – and with your partnership, spreading the gift of reading.
Your support truly means the world to me and the Clever Noodle Team, thank you for being a part of our first year!
Cheers to more years of staying CLEVER together,
|In 2020, my son struggled to read during the lockdown of Covid - and I did my best to homeschool like all other families and caretakers in the nation. When I couldn’t find anything on the market that was fun and effective, I started making my own games for him.|
|In 2021, I tested the first game, Kangaroo Cravings, that worked for my son with 100s of other children across 44 classrooms and many homes. I observed children playing the iterations of the game, asked them about art, and even had them determine the board and box sizes that worked best for their little hands to grab the game off the shelf.|
|Also, with the pandemic supply chain crash making materials impossible to source (especially sustainable and plastic-free ones) and shipping costs quadrupling, we hit a BIG BUMP. Costs became prohibitive. So, we paused for a bit and looked for alternatives, worried we might not find a good path forward.||
|In the first 6 months of 2022, thanks to help from an advisor of a toy company that makes our families’ favorite game nights so fun, we secured a new manufacturer, saving $2 per game – and allowing us to bring you affordable products. And, after spending months searching for an artist and reviewing portfolios, I found children’s book illustrator Ruaida Mannaa in Bogota, Columbia who was excited to design Kangaroo Cravings.|
|On October 25 2022, we filed our business license and had our launch party at our favorite Washington, DC pizza spot, Comet (thanks to them for donating the gooey, delicious pizza).|
|Shortly after, we launched our first charitable/equity partnership with New Leaders to begin achieving our goal of 30% of our games donated to schools serving low-income children to ensure equitable access for ALL children.|
|We were featured on ABC’s Good Morning America March 2023 – and had an outpouring of support and enthusiasm - resulting in a doubling of our first manufacturing run.|
Summer 2023, our pre-order of 7000 games finally shipped after lots of bumps, including the fulfillment center being acquired by the largest fulfillment company in the world – right at the moment we were ready to ship. Needless to say, this resulted in headache after headache. You were kind, understanding and patient. The new company’s data systems were not integrated with the other company, resulting in the manual upload of all 7K+ addresses.
|Fall 2023, released our second game, Kangaroo Cravings “To Go” - an expansion pack of 100 noun words to the board game and portable to throw in a backpack, purse or stocking!||
And, attended our first 2 toy fairs: the specialty toys event and North America’s largest toy fair, the NYC Toy Fair in October. Here, we learned that Barnes and Noble will carry our games in 2024 at their high-volume stores.
Excitingly, we won the Mom’s Choice Award for outstanding family games.
Closing out year one, we have 6 more products in development that we can’t wait to bring you in 2024.