Meet the ToyMaker: Greyson MacLean
Creator of BrickStix
Posted: 2014-01-26 22:35:23 By: by Stephanie Oppenheim
SO: Normally I interview grownups that find themselves back in toyland. But you were a child (now a teen) kid that found your way to the grown up world of the toy business. How did that happen?
GM: I didn't end up in the toy business on purpose. I was a 9 year-old who needed his favorite toy to work better. My LEGOŽ bricks came printed or with stickers I couldn't remove. That was great, until I wanted that brick to stop being a control panel or whatever it was. I wanted to be able to customize my builds with decals, but not permanently. I needed them to be removable and reusable, if possible. I just wasn't sure how to do it. During my research, I noticed a new pair of sunglasses with a UV label on the lens. It stuck using static. I ran to my bricks to test it out, and it worked. BrickStix Cling Decals were born. My family and my aunt and uncle believed in me, and my idea, and helped me build a business around my invention. It took almost two years to bring the first sets to market. Next came our Reusable Stickers. Same idea, just a different method. All of a sudden, we were a toy company. I have patents pending around the world, and have already been granted a patent in the UK.
SO: What were your favorite types of toys growing up?
GM: Before I was old enough to play with LEGO bricks, I loved playing with wooden trains. I remember building the tracks and rebuilding them over and over. I was about 5 years old when I got my first set of LEGO with the small bricks. They were my toy of choice from then on.
SO: What was the theme of the first batch of Brickstix?
GM: When we finally got our first three sets of BrickStix Cling Decals finished and ready to debut at Toy Fair 2011, we only had three sets. Those sets were METRO, TRANSPORT and SPACE. I did a lot of research in the brick world to learn which sets and themes were the most popular. We wanted to debut with sets that would appeal to a wide audience.
SO: What's the best part of starting a toy company?
GM: That's a hard question. It changes depending what I am working on. I have had so many incredible opportunities because of BrickStix. But, if I had to pick the best part of starting a toy company, it has to be working with my family. I couldn't do any of it without them. It's a lot of work, but we have a lot of fun working together.
SO: Now that you're no longer in your target audience, do you talk to younger kids for ideas?
GM: I may not be the traditional target audience, but people of all ages love to build with LEGO and other plastic bricks. I research trends in the market, talk to kids, and we go to brickshows where we see the what people are doing with their builds. I still have LOTS of sets I want to manufacture for myself! Plus, I have two younger sisters who help with ideas.
SO: I know it's corny, but what do you want to do when you grow up?
GM: I would like to be a nuclear engineer. I think. I am still working on the specifics, but I enjoy the idea of solving problems. To me, that's all inventing really is; solving a problem. When I was a kid I had a problem with permanent decals I couldn't get off my bricks. So, I figured out a new way, and now there are BrickStix. I think there are better ways to harness and create energy, now I just need to figure it out.
SO: What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
GM: My favorite ice cream is butter pecan. I've never been asked that in an interview. I like it.