Kaylin Marcotte Finds Peace (and Profits) in Jigsaw Puzzles

Mar 07, 2022Nancy Einhart0 comments

Mindfulness doesn't have to mean sitting quietly with your eyes closed. For some people, meditative activities, such walking or practicing yoga, can be more effective. Jiggy founder and CEO Kaylin Marcotte discovered her preferred nightly meditation in the form of jigsaw puzzles.

"Meditation didn't quite work for me," says Marcotte. "The act of doing something tactile really focused me and allowed me to feel very present."

Marcotte started Jiggy in November 2019, with the aim of elevating the work of fellow women and sharing her go-to stress reliever with consumers. Every Jiggy puzzle features original artwork by a woman artist — the company has commissioned about 60 pieces of artwork to date — and the company shares profits with the artists behind its frameable puzzles.  

Although she wasn't a "puzzle fanatic" growing up, Marcotte says she does have nice memories of doing jigsaw puzzles with her family as a kid. She really fell in love with puzzles about five years ago, while working at a demanding job at theSkimm when the company was in hustling startup mode.

"I rediscovered [puzzles] during a burnout time of need, when I wanted to get away from screens at the end of the day," she says.

Jiggy's Founding Values

To set Jiggy apart, Marcotte wanted to make a product that was truly beautiful and unlike the "cheesy stock photography, watercolor animals and landscapes" you usually find on jigsaw puzzles, she told Forbes.

Raised in Los Angeles, Marcotte watched her mother spend her career in arts education and nonprofits, so she knows how hard it is for visual artists to monetize their work and make a living. She also recognized that gallery representation and art exhibits remain fairly uneven in terms of gender.

So when she founded Jiggy, she chose to feature emerging women artists and share the profits of their puzzles with their creators. "Out of the gate, we had those values baked in," says Marcotte.

She also wanted the packaging and the finished product to be as visually appealing and sustainable as possible. Each 450-or 800-piece Jiggy puzzle comes packaged in a reusable glass canister, rather than cheaper single-use plastic. Jiggy's puzzles also come with an aluminum tube of puzzle glue and a reusable spreading tool, encouraging customers to frame their works when they finish.

"In our first year, we started doing carbon offsets as well, making sure that our freight and customer shipping is carbon neutral," Marcotte says.

How Jiggy Supports Women

Discovering new artists, Marcotte says, is one of the most fun parts of her job. In the early days of launching Jiggy, she spent time scouting Instagram and attending art fairs and gallery shows in search of artwork. Nowadays, she gets plenty of artists reaching out to her directly, and Jiggy also has an open submission process for artists. "Our puzzlers are also always sending us their favorite artists," she says.

Recently, Jiggy hosted its first art contest, wherein artists could submit their work for voting. The six winning designs will be released on puzzles later this month.

Jiggy has also partnered with collaborators who share its values. For instance, Anthropologie is a wholesale partner and also has an art residency, so Jiggy created seven custom puzzles for Anthropologie featuring its artists in residence. Another fun collaboration featured the cover art for the latest Kacey Musgraves album. The idea was to engage fans more deeply "by giving them something to do while listening to the music," Marcotte says.

And, of course, this week Jiggy and House of Wise are launching a limited-edition Stress Bundle, which pairs the Boobs puzzle by Brooklyn artist Julia Heffernan with House of Wise Stress Gummies.

"We really have focused on partnering with female-founded brands," says Marcotte.

Not only is Jiggy entirely run by women, but all of the agencies it works with are also women-run. For Marcotte, working with other women-led brands isn't just about optics; it's about economics. "On an economic development level, when women make more money, family and children's outcomes are better off," says Marcotte. "It really helps the whole community."

Self-Teaching and Self-Care

Notably, Marcotte doesn't have a business background. She studied political science in college, with the intention of being pre-law. But after working in management consulting for a year, she took a job at theSkimm when it was an early-stage startup. "That was the ultimate crash course, because entrepreneurship is about learning on the job," she says.

In building Jiggy, she's been very self-taught, while learning to lean on her professional network for advice. She also credits some of her success to a mindset of adaptability, which is crucial when running a startup — especially during a pandemic.

"I have always been fairly comfortable with unknowns and things not going according to plan," she says.

When it comes to self-care, Marcotte still does puzzles to relax — "Of course, I have done all or ours" — and she's also really into prompted journals. She especially loves 5-year journals, which allow you to reflect on the day you just had as compared to what you were doing at the same time 3 or 4 years ago.

Exercise is also an essential piece of her personal puzzle. Before the pandemic, Marcotte used to do a lot of boutique fitness classes, but in recent years, she started running outside again. "Running is another thing that helps quiet my mind," she says. "I definitely realize more than ever how important movement is to me."

>> Want to try Jiggy for yourself? Shop the limited-edition Jiggy x House of Wise Stress bundle before it sells out. 

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