It’s a fact. Some of us are just more inventive than others. When it comes to inventiveness associated with children, I’ve got to hand it to Julie Curtis of JWAY Games. It was back in July of 2014, at a Cirque du Square event in Downtown Buffalo that I initially came face to face with Julie, and her innovative, super addicting, hopscotch-esque game called JWAY that she had just launched (learn more). Since that time, Julie has been making inroads at local and national super stores such as Toys R Us, Sears, and KMart, to name a few.
If that wasn’t enough, Julie has just come up with another product that she feels is going to steal the show when it comes to kids’ play. They’re called jWAY balls, and it won’t be long before you see all of the neighborhood kids playing with these brightly colored, super durable and bouncy creations.
Who would have thought that there was a need for an updated version of the throwback red rubber playground balls, that were also ubiquitous to every pre-school and high school gymnasium?
Your brain is wired to invent, isn’t it? What drives you?
I wanted to expand and my passion has always been to create products and games that are fun for kids and people in general. My goal is to (hopefully) keep expanding so that I can create more innovative products with the fuel from jWAY the original and these balls. I have this really exciting electronic version of tag that’s been in the works for a bit now so I am hoping to launch that in the future as well!
I thought playground balls would be fun and really versatile since they can be used for four square, kickball etc. I’m also in the process of designing a playground ball unique to the area of Buffalo. When I realized the need for the playground balls I got excited about the idea of linking up with a variety of buffalo vendors like Wegmans and Oishei Children’s Hospital. I feel more motivated now than ever to sell the product because 10 % is going to the children at the hospital (Julie teamed up with the Children’s Hospital Foundation to make a 10% donation for all of the balls sold during the promotion – March 1 – May 31.
And the process?
When creating these I took the time to make sure my logo was bright and fun… and that the factory could make the logo as large as possible. Many other playground balls have your standard royal blue, red, yellow, orange… I wanted to bring something a little more exciting and current for kids/people and educators to the market. That’s when I started to take polls in my classroom here at Amherst Middle where my students actually helped me choose colors and vote on their favorites. From there I had the factory mix the rubber of the various pantones and send me samples. After a couple trial runs I had the perfect color combinations for the product!
What did your students think about all of this?
It was really cool to be able to involve my students and pick their brains in the color mixing process… and even more so to show them that design and art goes beyond the classroom and is useful when designing products. When I brought in the samples of the balls their mouths dropped… to see a two dimensional idea/design come to life was fascinating to them.
Tell us about the balls.
So far the response for the product has been great! They’re durable and made with a 2 ply construction, no slip grip! I also designed a little buffalo on the back that says “Designed in Buffalo”.
As part of the launch, Julie will be rolling out the balls at a series of events throughout WNY, including select Wegmans locations (Alberta, and Sheridan). She’s hoping that more Wegmans locations will follow suit, once the roll out proves to be a success.