Over the course of the last year, card games, board games and puzzles have evolved as major sources of entertainment for Americans seeking ways to pass the time amidst worldwide shutdown orders resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. These simple pastimes provide participants with social interaction and are a welcome reprieve for those of us fed up with social media, electronic devices and Netflix reruns.
According to Google Trends, searches of card games increased 113% between March and May of this year. While such increases are normal during the holiday season, lockdowns have certainly helped accelerate the popularity of card games. This trend is welcome news for a local couple running one of Charlotte’s most up and coming black-owned small businesses.
Chrissy and Anthony Kent are the names and faces behind SociaLaughs, a trivia card entertainment company based in Charlotte. The Kents have spent the past three years building their brand and working to create fun card games for the entire family. SociaLaughs is the creator of several popular card games including Passport to the Hood, CelebSaid and Story of My Life, which are all geared towards educating and increasing awareness surrounding black culture and ongoing current events topics such as police brutality or income inequality. The common thread among all the games is they offer players doses of entertainment, history, lifestyle, and current cultural topics. The owners offer these descriptions of each game:
“Passport to the Hood: This game includes 3 volumes – and highlights hilarious moments of urban culture, says everything that you hear behind closed doors and reflects the things we experienced growing up. You are ready to play this game if you know: 1) What to do when you see people run 2) A New Yorker’s favorite word 3) What snitches get 4) What the PJ’s mean 4) What not to do at a cookout. The objective of the game is to not lose points by predicting what answers the opposing teams will select.”
“CelebSaid: The game that revives your favorite quotes, catchphrases and lines from some of our most beloved black celebs. You are ready to play this game if you know these quotes…He shot me in my pinky toe. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. King Kong ain’t got sh*t on me. You ain’t got to lie, Craig. 86 Quote cards, 4 Go cards and 16 Decision cards.”
“Story of My Life: Designed specifically for women, Story of My Life is a fun-filled journey highlighting the social, personal and cultural experiences that cultivate the life stories of women. Play this game and find out what stories you have in common with your girlfriends.”
“You don’t have to be black to be intrigued by our culture and that is what these games reflect.”
SociaLaughs co-founder Chrissy Kent
Both Chrissy and Anthony were working as Charlotte-area realtors, when Anthony says he woke up in the middle of the night back in 2017 and had the epiphany to start a card game company. “I recognized that other races are fascinated by black culture…it drives so much of our national conversation,” he says. “You don’t have to be black to be intrigued by our culture and that is what these games reflect.”
The Kents say that from a retail perspective, they have seen a nearly 300% spike in sales since the onset of the pandemic. “We normally see sales increase around the holidays and towards the end of the year but this year our sales started to mimic our holiday surge back in the spring when COVID began and when there was so much in the news related to police brutality and protests amidst the George Floyd incident,” Chrissy says.
SociaLaughs’ games are available on Amazon and on the business’s own website. They have customers all over the country and do some advertising on social media but have also been featured in Buzzfeed and MadameNoire, a black women’s lifestyle guide for the latest in black hair care, relationship advice, fashion trends, black entertainment news & parenting tips.
The Kents say there are both unique challenges as well as advantages to being a black-owned business amidst the current environment. They say that like all small businesses there are roadblocks in the beginning in terms of starting a business from the ground up and increasing name recognition, building a following and customer base, etc. “There is also a stereotype that we are white because there is an assumption that black people don’t own businesses,” Anthony Kent says.
The bright side, they say, is that over the course of the last year or so they have seen a real shift in terms of more companies making a concerted effort to increase diversity in their workforces. Starbucks for instance just named its first black chairwoman earlier this month and in October
mandated antibias training for executives, tying their compensation to increasing minority representation in the company’s workforce. Chrissy Kent says she has personally noticed companies including Target, Netflix and Honeypot making concerted efforts to open up more of their website or shelf space to Black-owned businesses and products. “This has been a tough year for everyone, but I think it has brought us closer and really focused the conversation on what matters the most.”
As for the future, the Kents say when things return to normal post-COVID, they would like to try producing a televised game show out of their card games.