Imagine if your job was to organize a game night for people who like to play board and card games. Imagine if your job was as easy as playing games with people and helping them order the games they found to be the most fun.
Oh and get this, your training consisted of playing games with your family and friends … sound too good to be true?
It’s actually not. It’s a viable business model and one Gales Ferry resident has figured out how to live the dream and do very well by it.
“I basically get paid to play games,” said Kristen Lajoie of Mulberry Drive. “It’s a very easy job, it’s all fun stuff.”
Lajoie runs a home-based business as an independent consultant for SimplyFun, a board game company based in Bellevue, WA. And basically she’s the special guest at parties (similar to jewelry parties and Pampered Chef parties) where she introduces people to the games, teaches them how to play, and if they like them (or know someone who would) they can place an order.
Lajoie, who is already running another successful home-based, direct sales business, wanted to add another to her repertoire.
“I found this one and I liked what they had to offer,” she said of SimplyFun. The company designs and sells educationally-based games that promote family time and is a perfect fit for her and her family.
“We love games,” she said and pointed to a closet door. “This whole closet is filled with games before I started doing this and now my office if full of games too.”
Lajoie and her sister are the only consultants in Connecticut. Lajoie is the only one of the two who will bring games to your house though — her sister is a special education teacher in Stonington and only joined to get discounts on the products.
SimplyFun games are educational and build different skills, according to game descriptions. From the basics like matching colors and shapes, math and memory to the skeletal system, engineering, geography and chemistry.
Her most popular game is Digger’s Garden Match, which spans all ages. Lejoie said players ages 3 to 103 will like the games, and in fact, she and her husband have a robust rivalry when they play that game, with or without their daughters.
But all three girls, ages 6, 9 and 12, have a favorite.
Pickles’ Pig Tails is her 6-year-old’s favorite, and she said it helps build kids’ creativity, storytelling skills and memory. She said players build a story based on the cards they draw and they have to remember the story as they pull more cards.
“I thought she was going to have a hard time remembering as we got further into it with a lot of cards on the table, but she’s awesome, she blew us out of the water,” said Lajoie.
The 12-year-old likes a math game named Sumology. Lajoie said, “Sumology is an awesome math game and it’s one that grows with them. She’s getting into higher math now and this is a good way for her to keep her skills up on the basics. I love this one for her.”
And, the 9-year-old likes most of the games and recently became a fan of Mirror Mansion, which goes like this: “Using your mirrors, explore every nook and cranny to find the treasures hidden in Mirror Mansion! Learn about angles and the science of reflection in this fun and original game.”
All the games take about 30 minutes to play so, Lajoie said, “they’re quick, instead of flicking on the TV before dance practice you can just play a game.”
And does she think it’s time and money well spent?
“Absolutely, especially with the math skills. It’s definitely building their skills, each game definitely helps them out at school.”
And for herself, Lajoie said she has gained organizational skills while running the business. She said SimplyFun started up in 2004, although she has only been working for them since June.
“The ultimate goal of the party is to get to see the product before you buy it,” she said of her job. “Basically I get paid to go play games. It’s awesome.”
Lajoie said the party, which includes an introduction and presentation of the games, plus game time, lasts about one hour.
She said growing the business has been easy because, “once you do a couple parties, it just snowballs from there.”