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Plymouth Couple's Passion for Puzzles Leads to New Business Beginning

Plymouth Puzzles launched in October and can be found at Genuine Toy Company in downtown Plymouth.

Karen Sisolak poses next to a display of puzzles that she and her husband, Jeff, design and produce inside Genuine Toy Company in downtown Plymouth. Photo Credit: Nicole Krawcke
Karen Sisolak poses next to a display of puzzles that she and her husband, Jeff, design and produce inside Genuine Toy Company in downtown Plymouth. Photo Credit: Nicole Krawcke
With two of their children off in college and one almost ready to leave, Plymouth residents Karen and Jeff Sisolak were getting bored.

Then Jeff, after joining TechShop Detroit, what Karen calls a builder's gym, came up with the idea to build and sell puzzles.

"We thought it would be fun, we both love puzzles," Karen Sisolak said. "He (Jeff) found that the website name (Plymouth Puzzles) was available and he was just going to run off and start doing it."

Sisolak said she wanted to wait and see how many puzzles they could design first. She said they gave a lot as presents for birthdays over the summer and received a lot of positive feedback from family and friends. 

So after taking the last six to eight months playing and designing, the Sisolaks launched Plymouth Puzzles in October. 

"It's very, very new," Sisolak said. "We're taking it slow because we do produce them. We design them, we create them and we package them."

The Sisolaks have designed and produced 10 original wood-carved puzzles, ranging in form from an owl to 'Grandma's Quilt' to geometric shapes. There are also two new prototypes currently in the works. 

"I think people either love puzzles or don't, but I think a lot of people do love them," Sisolak said. "Even when my kids were young, they loved doing puzzles. And most kids like to take things apart and put them back together. I grew up doing Lincoln Logs, blocks and Legos. I was trying to figure out why do I like puzzles, why do I think people like them? And I think it's because we're so busy today in our lives... but when you do a puzzle, you get the sense of 'I did it! I got it done!' It's just a feel good moment and I think we all need those feel good moments and that's part of the reason we like doing them."

Sisolak acknowledged that most people don't have time to do a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in today's fast paced society. 

"I think in our society today, we need something that's a challenge, but we can do in a half hour or maybe 15 minutes or maybe even five minutes, whatever with the different levels of puzzles," she said. "My goal was just to have something sitting on the coffee table that looks nice and you can pick it up and dump it out."

Each puzzle design varies in difficulty. Although, Sisolak said her husband think's she makes them too hard, sometimes.

"I have different techniques to make them hard," she said. "It's not a solid puzzle with a picture where you match up a piece of green with another piece of green. It's a pattern and you have to put the pattern back in, but there's negative space so it exercises your mind. You have to mentally compensate for that space. If I'm looking at a pattern, it doesn't always just match up 100 percent. The other thing is symmetry. There's a lot of symmetry in these, so pieces fit in multiple places, but only one place is going to be right."

Sisolak said she likes designing because it's her own personal puzzle to figure out how to make a simple puzzle hard or how to make one shaped as an owl. She has an idea folder when designing the puzzles and looks for patterns in just about anything, like in nature.

But she doesn't have a favorite. 

"They're my babies, how do you have a favorite child?" she said.  "I really like the sunflower one because it's one that I could add color and do staining, and it's pretty difficult. I'm a girl, I like the ones that are pretty."

Plymouth Puzzles has partnered with the Genuine Toy Company as its first retail outlet. They are also available at the Plymouth Historical Museum store or you can purchase them online at plymouthpuzzles.com.

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