Connetix Tiles was created by two families that met when their kids started primary school together. They decided to create their own version of magnetic tiles that could help kids unlock creativity through educational play. Connetix Tiles feature clear refractions and vibrant colors that kids can use to build any structures they can think of, from castles and towers to animals and vehicles.
The Toy Book spoke with Brea Brand, director of Connetix, to learn more about the company’s educational roots and how kids can make the most out of these imaginative magnetic tiles.
The Toy Book: Tell us how Connetix got its start.
Brea Brand: Connetix Tiles was officially launched in 2019 by myself and my business partner Dave, who I met when our kids started primary school together. We both value high-quality, open-ended toys that support kids as they learn and develop. After seeing how our kids not only enjoyed playing with magnetic tiles, but were learning while doing so, we decided to create our own version that were strong and safe while offering clearer refractions than the current tiles on the market.
I am an experienced primary school and Master’s-qualified, early-childhood teacher and mother of three. I am incredibly passionate about kids learning through play, and have experienced the benefits open-ended resources can provide in supporting kids as they learn and develop.
My business partner Dave has a strong entrepreneurial background combined with 5 years working as a mechanical designer in engineering offices. He also has extensive experience manufacturing and shipping quality products.
Together, we’ve combined our passion and skills to launch Connetix Tiles, a signature brand of beveled magnetic tiles.
TB: Why is STEAM learning so important for kids? How can Connetix help kids learn these skills?
BB: The world is evolving at a rapid pace. New technologies emerge constantly, and this means society has to adapt and develop new skills. Today’s kids need to develop diverse skill sets, flexibility, and a passion for exploration. A perfect way to do this is by using STEAM learning. STEAM is the abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. STEAM learning is an integrated approach that empowers kids to think creatively, work collaboratively, and be inquisitive, innovative problem-solvers.
Connetix are a highly effective, open-ended toy and an excellent way for kids to enjoy STEAM learning! Simply by playing with Connetix, kids explore a wide range of STEAM disciplines and skills. Sparking creativity and imagination, Connetix play enables kids to engage with magnetism, gravity, force and motion, shapes, counting, measurement, colors, patterns, symmetry, light (physics), weight, and stability, as well as social-emotional learning, such as collaborative skills, problem-solving, and flexible thinking.
TB: Can you describe how Connetix products can grow with kids?
BB: The wonderful thing about open-ended toys is that they can be used in many different ways and across many age brackets, with the play becoming more complex as a kid’s development progresses. As there is no right or wrong way to play with open-ended toys, they encourage kids to express themselves creatively and can adapt to whatever their interests and learning needs are.
Connetix are a toy in which play and learning connect. They are a perfect example of an open-ended toy that not only help develop a kid’s imagination and creativity, but they also grow with the kid. While a younger kid may explore the simple color, shapes, and magnetic features of Connetix, as their experience and learning progress, they may begin exploring building 2D or 3D shapes, designing animals and towers, and naturally evolving into complex large structures, ball runs, or games.
TB: How does Connetix stand out from other building toys out there?
BB: In an industry that can be highly competitive and oversaturated, we strive to create high-quality products with signature features that promote open-ending learning through play. We believe the success of the Connetix products and brand stems from this ambition and foresight. Connetix are high-quality, uniquely beveled magnetic tiles that offer clear refractions, strong magnets, and promote learning through play. Our tiles also feature strong magnets with ultrasonic welding and rivets to make magnet play safer for little hands.
We take great pride in being global leaders producing innovative designs such as our signature pastel range; ball run packs featuring clear, fluted tubes and specialty pieces; our distinctive car bases with real rubber wheels; and exciting geometric shapes such as large hexagons.
TB: Many Connetix employees are also educators. In what ways does this bring more educational value to the products?
BB: As a brand, we actively champion the value of open-ended play for all kids and the educational benefits that Connetix can provide. As almost one-third of our employee base is made up of parents who are Master’s-qualified primary and early childhood educators, we feel we are in a unique position to provide an in-depth understanding of these benefits.
Connetix utilizes the expertise, knowledge, and experience of our employees to assist our customers and retailers by offering inspiration, ideas, and support. The experience of our team also means we can champion the value of learning through play by creating accurate blog posts, educational videos, and insights that are shared across our website and social media channels.
TB: How has the company evolved since it began in 2019?
BB: Connetix first began as a two-person show operating out of Dave’s garage. In the wake of the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that Connetix was growing bigger than Dave and I could solely manage so we increased the business’ talent pool — firstly to assist with customer service and soon after, marketing and other areas of the business.
From the beginning, there has always been an aim to not only provide high-quality toys that the whole family can enjoy, but also ensure incredible customer service to both customers and retailers. We have always made it a priority to go above and beyond in these areas and I believe this is why we have seen Connetix amass a loyal customer and retail base along with an organic following on social media. Our Instagram alone has more than 200K followers who are actively engaged with our ideas and inspiration on ways to use Connetix. We love what we do and we love seeing the joy Connetix brings to others!
TB: What were the biggest challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and how did Connetix persevere?
BB: During the pandemic, we simultaneously experienced a drastic increase in global demand alongside impacted production and shipping capabilities, which created many challenges. We were forced to look at how we were doing things and implement changes where we could in order to support the business as well as the people involved in it.
This predominately saw Dave working directly with manufacturing and shipping to increase productivity and quality, while I focused on continuing to promote the value Connetix provides as an open-ended toy and ensuring incredible customer service and team morale. We worked extremely hard to ensure Connetix was still able to continue to grow and expand during this unpredictable and challenging time.
TB: What are some of your new goals or new products planned for this year?
BB: We continue to respond to the way our community plays with Connetix and listen to what additions they would like to see join the Connetix product catalog. With many exciting new releases planned for next year, the first new products to be launched in the coming months will include a new Clear Range, expanding our Base Plate range to include more colors, and some exciting new packs to complement our popular ball run that is sure to be a huge hit with Connetix fans!
We plan to continue to champion the value of play through open-ended toys even more over the coming year!
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