Building a business, one brick at a time

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 am

What started out as a unique, homemade gift has been built up into an in-home business brick by brick.

Ryan and Meghan Nelson have turned their mutual love of Legos into a way to create and sell a variety of colorful creations from a childhood toy many have loved for generations through their in-home business, MR Brick Designer.

The Nelsons, both 31, have more than 250,000 pieces throughout more than 100 sets, individual pieces and minifigurines, as well as a number of Lego robots, lamps, drink coasters, picture frames, card holders and even Lego cuff links and earrings.

“It was something we started exploring together,” Meghan said about their love of Legos.

The two said they originally met at a friend’s party and found they both had a love for auto-racing, which brought them together. Soon after, they found out they also had a passion for building with Legos.

“Instead of buying me flowers, he’d buy me a Lego set,” Meghan said with a smile.

However, the idea for a business didn’t begin until four years ago, when Meghan said she decided to build Ryan a lamp as a Christmas present.

“When she gave me the lamp, I said, ‘This is awesome, we should sell these,’” Ryan said. “It snowballed from there.”

The two began selling their creations through Etsy.com, creating quite a bit of interest right away. Ryan said the business has since created its own website, mrbrickdesigner.com, which allows customers to view its wares. It continues to sell clocks and decorative lamps, and has even made custom creations such as a robot lamp.

Meghan said the design process involved a lot of learning-on-the-go, originally building a Lego shell around a preexisting lamp.

“But that doesn’t give you much flexibility,” she added.

Now, a lot of the lamps involve sitting down and creating a mental design, and when the two aren’t working on a design, they are doing research and development for future products, such as the LED skyscraper lamp Ryan built.

“It’s been a bit of an evolving process,” she said.

This process has also been stretched in creating the business, as Meghan is a microbiologist, and Ryan currently works at PayPal. However, dedicating every non-working hour to MR Brick Design is more of an outlet for the two, as Ryan said it is relaxing to create something and Meghan said she comes from a long-line of entrepreneurs who are eager to set out on their own business.

And the business has been busy, Ryan said, with more than 120 orders since November, in addition to selling small packs and pieces.

“We sell pretty much any component you see in our stuff, or don’t see,” he said.

While Ryan said MR Brick Designer normally sells to collectors and builders, there was one customer the couple were surprised to serve last summer: Warner Bros. Studio.

“At first, we thought it was a joke,” Meghan said.

However, the two found the studio wanted a clock to use in filming “The Lego Movie,” which came out on Feb. 7. While the couple said they saw the movie opening day, they missed seeing their clock.

“There’s stuff flying by all the time,” Ryan said.

“It’s hard not to get drawn into the movie,” Meghan added.

While their clock may not have been seen in this movie, they did spot a friend’s design and said their clock can still be used in any sequels or promotional materials for the movie.

“We’re happy to have it used wherever,” Ryan said.

As for the future of MR Brick Designer, the Nelsons said they are looking to partner with a local business to display and sell their products while expanding into new areas, such as cuff links and cake toppers for weddings.

More information on their Lego creations is available on the MR Brick Designer Facebook page or can be found on their website.

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