Build Character Through Play!
Meghan DeRoma and her sister-in-law Christine Peck have conjured a new meaning to the game of life.
While many families gather around the table casting dice, flicking number wheels or tip-toeing plastic characters across cardboard landscapes, DeRoma and Peck have created a board game of their own.
It’s a game where kids and adults get to howl like a wolf, surf on a pillow, engage in thumb wars, create makeshift hats and tell imaginary tales of tattooed tigers and their tasty treats, among many other things.
Their board game creation is called Silly Street, a giant 40” puzzle board that contains 55 silly cards, 4 solid wood game pieces and a storage bag. The object of the game is to pretend, move, sing and compete your way down Silly street.
The game has already won multiple national toy awards and it’s being sold at major retail department stores like Toys R Us, Target and Barnes and Noble.
“It was a long road leading up to that, but all of a sudden, things are happening!” says DeRoma, who was in charge of the game’s tone and writing. She also created all illustrations, designs and artwork.
Peck, her Silly Street business partner “speaks business very well,” says DeRoma.
Peck is in charge of negotiating contracts, handling licensing issues and monitoring the financials.
The two moms take pride in their product which, even by demanding toy industry standards, has become very popular, very fast.
“People are really supportive of it. The kids love to be brought along in the process,” says DeRoma. “We’ve had lots of people help us along the way.”
From a Hospital Room to Silly Street
DeRoma moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 2015 with her husband and son Bodhi, who was 18 months old at the time.
They relocated from the Windy City for work and DeRoma soon became consumed by her job as a marketing professional.
“It was getting really stressful for me. I just wanted to be with Bodhi more. The worst feeling ever is to arrive at daycare and have your kid be the last kid there.”
So DeRoma started thinking. Then she started sketching. She already had an art and photography background. Plus, she knew about marketing. Further, she was expecting her second child.
“One of the original impetuses to start this was, I always wanted to have my own project and get out of working for somebody else and work for myself,” she shares. “I’ve always wanted to have an art-based something and be my own salary maker.”
She and Peck got together and started developing a board game idea. It started out with a singular makeshift game made out of laminated sheet paper and sent to friends and family all over the country. All they wanted in return was honest feedback.
Then, as their board game idea gained traction, DeRoma delivered her second son Ryder who was born with a heart defect and had to have surgery at two weeks old.
“I spent a lot of time in the hospital by myself,” says DeRoma. “So I would sit there while he was sleeping and brainstorm stuff.”
Ryder’s heart surgery proved successful and the young boy is happy and healthy. On the Silly Street game board, there is a small heart with the letter “R” next to it that represents that period in DeRoma’s motherhood journey.
Silly Street and Beyond
Once Peck and DeRoma were confident that their idea was on the right path, they launched a Kickstarter Campaign that helped them further develop the prototype.
They hosted numerous game board nights with neighborhood children, perfected every detail and even let their kids participate in the design.
What they didn’t expect, perhaps, was the sudden curiosity they stirred from major companies interested in licensing their product. They were busy exploring such concepts as “How is this going to help a little kid build empathy?” says DeRoma. “How is this going to help a little kid build grit?”
DeRoma and Peck have since launched their company Wannaplé, under which they’ve also created a series of jigsaw puzzles, a second board game titled Animal Act (which uses performance styles like acting and singing to get players to guess a card) and they’re working on a line of toys based on characters and illustrations from Silly Street, expected to debut in 2018.
“The brand is based on the idea that play builds character and we realized this concept could apply to so many things,” says DeRoma.
During a recent play date at Au Fudge in West Hollywood, DeRoma sat on the floor with her Silly Street game laid out on a small coffee table. There were several children surrounding her, taking turns reading out the silly cards and joyously carrying out the instructions.
DeRoma wasn’t just watching the kids make funny moves and giggle through the game board adventure. She was playing too. She was laughing and cheering, and bringing out the best in each child at the table.
Silly Street is not about building empires. It’s a game about building character.
Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing Meghan DeRoma in her home, where we learned about her and Christine’s very unique and innovative board game that aims to build character through play. We are proud of Silly Street’s Success and congratulate Meghan and Christine on their talents and accomplishments. #LAMomsRock
For more information: Play Silly Street!