The Dark Imp - Ellie Dix
Imagine being able to take something you just LOVE and turn it into an income generating business. It's the ideal way to start a business, in my view. And it's exactly what Ellie Dix did when she launched ber board game business, The Dark Imp. And Author and a passionate board game player and creator, we're over the moon to chat to Ellie today about turning something she loves so much into a business.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I’m a board game designer and publisher. I specialise in creating games for families with children aged 8 and up.
I run the business by myself.
What makes you different from your competitors?
My focus is very firmly on games for the family. I’m not talking about children’s games, but games that are designed for adults to enjoy too.
Board games have the power to bring families closer together, to strengthen relationships and create shared memories – but families need to be playing the right sort of games to enable this to happen. Games that everyone enjoys and looks forward to playing.
I focus a lot on helping parents to reclaim family time by playing board games together. As an ex-teacher and ex-owner of an education training company, my primary focus is on making sure that families have brilliant experiences. So I spend a lot of time creating videos and writing articles that are designed to help parents to have positive experiences of playing games.
For example, I’ve tackled subjects like ‘How to help a child who can’t cope with losing’ and ‘Identifying triggers of board game arguments’. I’ve also written a book called, The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the screen.
What inspired you to launch The Dark Imp?
I LOVE board games – playing them, talking about them, designing them, unwrapping them for the first time… But I also love what board games have done to my family. The way that games provide an activity that everyone can dive into, the way they spark conversation, the way they develop learning skills and social skills. The benefits are huge.
I honestly can’t think of a better job.
2020: What a year! How have you navigated the pandemic?
Well it’s been a great year for selling board games direct to families – lockdowns have forced families to spend more time together and find things that everyone loves to do. But the business to business aspect has been tough. Schools have had to focus sharply on essential curriculum and events companies have seen work disappear.
In terms of game design, I’ve changed direction a bit and designed several games that can be played while socially distanced and on Zoom – these are going well.
The lockdowns have given me more reflection time and I’ve developed a strong strategy for the coming months and years. I’m excited about what the future holds.
What do you love most about running your business?
I love the whole design process – from the initial concept of an idea, to fleshing it out in a notebook, to creating basic prototypes, to first ‘crash & burn’ playtests, through various iterations where small or large things change and all the way to the finished article. There’s nothing like holding a game in your hands that you’ve designed from scratch. Though getting great feedback from families comes really close.
And what are the toughest challenges?
Trying to convince families who don’t play many board games that they should. People have a very fixed idea of what a board game is and whether they like them or not.
Experiences of losing Monopoly for several hours is enough to put anyone off games for good. But not all games are created equal and when you get the right games for your family, the benefits to personal development and family life can be huge.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Focus on the relationships. Look after your suppliers. Look after your customers. Look after your collaborators. You can’t go into business alone, even if you’re the only one running the business. You need support, you need help and you need people to buy from you. People follow people. Prize the relationships above all else.
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Thank you so much, Ellie!