As a female-founded business, we talk a lot about fellow female founders and mom entrepreneurs. As we approach Father’s Day this month, we want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on a few of the VIDs (AKA Very Important Dads) behind some of our favorite Rose & Rex brands. Throughout the month of June, we’ll spotlight a different Dad and their brand as we get to know a bit more about their families & inspiration.
First up is Will Haughey, Dad of 5 (!) and co-founder of Tegu, the award-winning magnetic block set system made of sustainably sourced wood. Tegu blocks are our go-to building material for children of all ages and a staple at all Rose & Rex events. In fact, Tegu was the first brand that we ever decided to carry. Read on to learn more about Will and the company he has created!
Tegu is one of the first brands that we selected for Rose & Rex. We are such fans of your product and mission. Tell us a bit about the Tegu mission & inspiration for how the brand came to be.
Tegu's mission is "to awaken the joy of service." In 2006, my brother Chris was contemplating what he wanted to do professionally after a successful start to his career in management consulting. He and I had long talked about working together and doing something entrepreneurial. And at that time he was traveling extensively through Latin America and specifically had connections to Honduras. He began sharing with me a vision for a company that would sustainably use local resources in Honduras to create jobs and opportunities through commerce. In the end, we were taken with the beautiful woods of Honduras and began thinking about starting a wood products company. We found ourselves considering furniture, flooring, cabinetry, but eventually got excited about starting a toy company. Then, we had to figure out what toys we would make and began studying children and childhood development. That study led to the inclusion of magnets, and Tegu's magnetic wooden building system was born. Tegu is short for Tegucigalpa, where we set up shop and today employ 150 people. Tegu is now sold in over 80 countries; it’s been humbling to see the brand and the idea go forth into social impact.
What are your biggest learnings as a dad of 5? How that has influenced your work at Tegu?
Well, our vision is “to restore play to its rightful place”, and I am determined to see this happen in my home as well as in the business. What does this mean? It means we create time and space, the conditions, for the unexpected to happen. And this cannot happen if the family is over-scheduled or if their activities are super scripted.
In order to draw out the genius of your child, we believe that step number one is removing the instruction manual; you cannot script the play if you want something brilliant to happen.
And the same thing is happening with our staff. We want to create the conditions where they can creatively improve and adapt every day. In order to do this, we must create time and space for creative contribution, top to bottom. Every day we start the day cleaning for 30 minutes, showing respect for each other and the environment, and then we spend the next 30 minutes sharing with each other about improvements we’re making. When we do this across our staff, with consistency every day, we are amazed at the ideas that come forth from the team. In essence, give your kids space to do it their way, and you’ll be amazed. The same applies for our team of collaborators making Tegu every day. I love watching ideas come to life, and we’re so much more powerful when we use all of our people to solve our challenges and make great things happen.
How are your kids involved at Tegu?
Well, my kids are in the sweet spot age for Tegu, ranging from 9 months (baby Samuel) all the way to Hannah (almost age 5). Of course they are product testers and in our photography from time to time. Most impactful to me, though, is that we say prayers every night, and I am always bowled over when my kids pray for the people that work at our factory. It’s so humbling to hear them care for Dad in this way, and we connect deeply here. Any business has challenges, and it's comforting to know that my kids appreciate some inkling of that, even if they aren’t caught-up in the details!
Favorite ritual / hobbies / activities with kids
We have 5 kids currently under the age of 5. To say it’s a handful is an understatement, and the hero of our story is my wife Rachel. Fridays are pizza night at our favorite local joint, Fat Cat Pie, and it’s fun to have a few fixtures like that. The kids love it because we don’t eat out much, and it’s a treat every time. I also LOVE the game of soccer and really enjoy it when I get to take them out and have fun.
Describe your ideal Father’s Day
Just hanging with the kids. I travel constantly, so weekends are such a joy. They can be tiring, but in a great way, the best kind of way. A perfect Fathers Day probably involves a great coffee and donut, too! I love breakfast time with my kids.
What is your favorite Tegu toy?
Our new Baby & Toddler toys debuted last year, and I love them (even though they are designed for kids 1-3yrs in age). The “Floating Stacker” is unlike any other product on the market, as is our Magnetic Shape Train. It’s amazing to see what you can do with just a few pieces. In general, the fewer pieces, the more the creativity comes out. I see this happen every time I get these toys out with my kiddos, and I love it.