We had the good fortune of connecting with Chrissy Fagerholt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chrissy, how do you think about risk?
In my early twenties I was working as a buyer for a hospital gift shop; a fun job that offered a salary, heath insurance, and a great schedule. I had always wanted to start my own line of greeting cards and when a position became available at a local stationery store, I chose to quit the gift shop and immerse myself within the stationery industry, even if it meant leaving the benefits of working at the gift shop. When I had mentioned to a customer that I was leaving to persue this dream she told me her own story of what she wished she had done. That stuck with me because I thought, I don’t want to say that to myself, even if I try and don’t succeed, at least knowing I tried is better than the what if. This risk required me to maintain a second job to make ends meet, but ultimately pushed me to do what I had always wanted to try, and guess what? It wasn’t a success, but I learned so much along the way that would eventually help me in my current career, as a game and toy inventor. I discovered my love of bringing people together through creative ways of connection. In fact this has been a part of my process all along, as a floral designer, greeting card designer and now games and toys. As I start this new journey in games and toys I have new risks to take as I have even more to learn, a family to take care of and entering a very competitive industry. But taking risks does not mean you have to go in blind or be quick. I opt for calculated risk, I take my time, educate myself and listen to my instincts.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always been in a creative mind-set. I love coming up with ideas and then seeing those ideas turned into something other people can enjoy. I was a floral designer for 17 years, dabbled in greeting card and invitation design and stumbled my way into game and toy design. My first game, Friend or Faux, was created with three of my childhood friends after a girls trip led to a game created over tequila and questions designed to see how well we knew each other. It took two years to create, but the hard work paid off when it was licensed by one of the largest game publishers and we saw it on the shelves of Target. I was hooked and knew I wanted to pursue this career of designing more games, which eventually led me into toys. I have no formal education in the field and going back to school full time was not an option for me so I am taking baby steps. I take courses that work with my schedule, I read books, listen to podcasts and invent, invent, invent. I have learned that even professional inventors who have been doing this forever come up with hundreds of ideas and are lucky to see a few succeed. So understanding that not all of my ideas will see the light of day is OK, but I won’t know what will work if I don’t put it out there at all. Games and Toys are a huge industry and I have to really know what is out there, where can I be innovative, try not to compare myself with anyone else, ask questions, learn as much as I can and most important, be patient! You don’t have success overnight in this industry. I am currently working on three new games and 3 new toy ideas. I have to be open to insight and take feedback that will enhance what I am currently working on. My goal is to bring more to market through licensing so that the industry not only recognizes my talent and passion, but takes me serious as an inventor.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to the city of Denver and explore everything that is new and coming to the city! It is a different Denver than when I was in my 20’s and my friends and I say that people who live there now and explore it often are getting the best the city has ever had to offer, with Union Station, the public plaza being built outside of Coors Field, restaurants, the highlands, RiNo, etc. Of course a concert at Red Rocks, a show at the DCPA, and a trip to the Denver Art Museum.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been lucky to have the most supportive family and friends. You can’t invent games and toys without asking everyone in your life to test, re-test, and re-test again! I have a patient, supportive, husband, willing kids, and friends who give me a lot of ideas just by being around them. Professionally, I like to surround myself with other creatives who are also navigating their careers. We are open to each other’s advice, understand the pitfalls of being a creative, tackling imposter syndrome woes and genuinely excited to support each other’s endeavors. I read a lot of industry books, listen to podcasts, take courses, like the Toy Creators Academy, and I am a part of the Women In Toys group which has been such a wealth of information and support as I try to learn everything I can.