“I would be nowhere without the others in the platoon and would like to emphasize the importance of teamwork and determination.”
Over two million businesses in the U.S. are owned by veterans, according to a 2017 report issued the Small Business Administration, making up 9.1% of entrepreneurs.
Travis Blair, an Army veteran, viewed small business ownership as an opportunity to accomplish something that the military did not leave time for. After leaving active duty, his commitment with the National Guard allowed the option of dual careers. Blair, a writer and game developer, created Zarfling Platoon with one mission in mind: fun.
A childhood dream come true
His decade-long Army career started in the signal corps and then moved to “human intelligence collector.” Blair then decided to join the Texas National Guard and use the change to pursue several career bucket list items, including writing. He said he “found comfort in writing at coffee shops.”
Blair also polished some of the stories he wrote over the years and decided to submit a children’s book manuscript to publishers. However, after receiving several rejection letters claiming his book was not suitable for trade given its educational theme, he decided to take matters into his own hands and not take “no” for an answer.
When his son came back home from school with a list of sight words, Blair saw the need to develop a game that would allow his son — and many other children — to learn and memorize the vocabulary in a much simpler, enjoyable way. So, with a book and a game in the works, Blair decided it was time to start his own business.
What’s in a name?
Zarfling Platoon creates children’s books and educational games for elementary age kids. The name holds significance from Blair’s service in the military.
“Just as a zarf is that sleeve that holds your hot cup of coffee, we zarflings hold onto imagination,” he explained. “I would be nowhere without the others in the platoon and would like to emphasize the importance of teamwork and determination.”
The company’s products are tailored to help children and their families, Blair adds.
“ … Each product is made with the intent to be something families can enjoy together at home as a way for parents to be involved in their kid’s education, as well as something the kid can then put in their backpack and take to school to use in small group activities. We like to make books and games full of imagination, with morals and lessons and that are just fun,” he said.
For example, “Gnomes on the Farm is a picture book I’ve written about a pig on our fictional farm. Bruce is creative and ambitious, but his lack of success has him feeling down. He decides to instead buckle down and emerges from the barn with an amazing new invention. Something does go wrong, but because of his perseverance to succeed he comes up with a plan that helps the farm. Gnomes on the Farm teaches kids valuable lessons of learning from mistakes, doing what you love, and problem solving,” Blair said.
He also understands the importance of mastering geography and the benefit of learning to read a map, all valuable lessons and tools he implements in his Map of Mythflict Puzzle – a two-sided puzzle that encourages spatial thinking and geographical awareness. For those who have served in the military, there are several familiar elements included with the puzzle, such as a compass.
Customers will notice several military-inspired creations throughout the company’s website, aiming to spark the imagination of kids while giving parents a fun way to insert learning into the day-to-day routine.
Visit Zarfling Platoon to see the full list of products and to learn more about Travis Blair.Read comments