We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris Hale and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kris, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started doing puzzles with my family when I was maybe five years old, as I became an adult and wanted I wanted puzzle that were more than just something I would do and put back in the box. I had a hard time finding puzzles that were a reflective of me, the things I liked or that even looked like me. I would walk up and down the isle trying find things that I connected with. And in an industry that yields 2 billion dollars annually, I was disappointed in the lack of diversity and representation. Around the same time that I left the store puzzle less, a friend of mine was preparing for an art show and he showed me one of his pieces. She was a beautiful brown skinned Black woman with a short afro and big gold earrings, and I connected with everything about the image. My first thought was, “I would do that as a puzzle! And the idea of Dope Pieces was born!

Our mission is to produce puzzles that are visually stimulating, unique, beautiful, edgy, and exciting. We will showcase the work of talent artists of color, while affirming a positive narrative of the black and brown diaspora.

Representation is important and we do it piece by piece.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think there are a lot of people that have ideas and want to start something new, but they are often scared and don’t feel like they know what to do. I felt the same way. I still don’t always know what to do, but I pulled the trigger and made a decision to do it scared and trust myself. I asked question, I read articles, and found people that knew about starting business and and I researched my industry and became very knowledgeable about all aspects of the puzzle industry. That knowledge gave me a great deal of confidence.

I am most proud of taking action and moving past the fear. The other thing that gives me a great deal of satisfaction is when people see the puzzles and they see them selves. When they share how much they love seeing faces that look like theirs and how they cannot wait to buy on for their mom, sister, aunt, friend, or cousin. It make me feel so happy knowing I did something that made them feel seen.

The puzzle industry is 2 a billion industry and there is room for everyone to be seen.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It would be ALL BLACK EVERYTHING, EVEYTHING ALL BLACK DAY! I would take them to Gocha’s Breakfast Bar for breakfast! Their pancakes and fish and grits are PHENOMINAL! I would take them to my office and tour them round the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs and let them meet all of the owners of various BOBs. We would go to Village Retail at Ponce City Market so that I could show them where my puzzles are sold and how awesome the store is (30 Black Owned companies housed in one place). Donuts at Sublime, followed by mani/pedis at Iwi Fresh, quick trip around the corner to Zucot Gallery before we take a nap and drinks at Parlor or the for The Gathering Spot to close the night!

I love Atlanta because this is a real day for people that have come to visit me. Black businesses are everywhere and offer a lot of diversity and excellence for those visiting to enjoy!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have a ton of cheerleaders! I am blessed to have a healthy circle of people that have supported and encouraged me on this journey. My brother William was the first person to fund my first order of puzzles, and my boss Jay Bailey consistently encourages me and put me in situations that help my business grow. Dr. Key Hallmon, Founder of the Village Market ATL and the Village Retail at Ponce City Market gave me my first vending and retail opportunity. Terri Bradley who is the Owner and Founder of Brown Toy Box is my fellow entrepreneurial partner in crime. She is a part of my tribe and a constant motivator. These 4 people have had the biggest impact on my and my company and I cannot thank them enough!

Website: https://dopepieces.art/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dopepiecespuzzlecompany/?hl=en

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.om/in/krishale/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kris.hale.5/

Image Credits
Artist: Dante Yarbrough Patrick Dougher Ananda Nahu Alexandre Keto Vince Ballentine

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.