Birth of Bananagrams in East Sheen sees maker enjoy fruits of her labour (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Birth of Bananagrams in East Sheen sees maker enjoy fruits of her labour
Amazon’s best-selling toy of all time may trace its origins back to America but its success was masterminded from a house in East Sheen.
Bananagrams is a word game similar to Scrabble where players attempt to turn their tiles into connected words faster than every other player and Rena Nathanson manages the company from the spare room of her home.
Ms Nathanson said: “I work from home in the box room but the warehouse is in America. I Skype them for 15 hours a day but it seems to work.”
The family, headed by Rena’s father Abraham who died in 2010, came up with Bananagrams when they were looking for a quick word game to keep them entertained.
She said: “We have a summer house in America where the family gather. We are a family of game players and we wanted something fast to play.”
Having quickly come up with rules for the game, and then frequently played it with friends, they were encouraged to manufacture a small number to sell. They quickly sold out, so they decided to launch commercially the game at the London Toy Fair in 2006.
She said: “In a way we had the perfect storm as there was a backlash against electronic games and there was a concept of bringing the family back around the table.
“It’s fun, fast and fluid and you don’t get left waiting for your turn as you’re working on your own individual go.”
The next aim for the mum of two is to educate, entertain and inspire even more young people.
She said: “We would love to have Bananagrams in every house and every school classroom as it would be great as a learning tool.
“When I visit local schools they talk about the game and that’s been a real treat.
“They love having what they see as a local celebrity in to talk to them, they think it’s quite cool and it spurs them to be creative.”
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