collaboration | May 12, 2022

Introducing Our Founder

By Blue Squirrel Team

Introducing Our Founder

Blue Squirrel was born out of my family’s personal experience. I am one of the millions of parents across the country who navigated a new paradigm of childcare and home-based learning during the pandemic. At first, we tried to make lockdown fun. Transforming our dining room into a playroom for our daughters, filled with bean bag chairs and blanket-draped furniture to create a fort. However, once we realized a short-term lockdown was becoming a new way of life, we knew something had to change.


Months of school closures and virtual-learning gave my wife and I the chance to observe how our young children were learning, playing and spending their time in a whole new light. The inability to play with other children meant that my wife and I were bending over backwards to occupy our girls, often resorting to various screens to hold their attention. I couldn’t help but notice the disconnect between this particular moment in time to my own childhood, playing in my treehouse and on my swingset, spending as many hours outdoors as I could until dinnertime.


After so much time spent indoors, I wanted to see my children playing in ways that piqued their young imaginations, engaged them physically and pushed them mentally. I was desperate to find something that would encourage my kids to spend more time outdoors and limit screen time, so I looked for a backyard playset. My extensive search was incredibly underwhelming. 


Legacy brands were wildly expensive, with opaque shipping estimates, and the same aesthetic as the set my parents bought me decades ago. Moreover, the customer service experience was stuck in the past, with slow response times, hands-off freight delivery and 8 hour plus DIY playhouse assembly times. The entire experience was expensive, painful and slow, so slow that by the time our set actually arrived, it wasn’t the right season for our kids to play with it. I knew we could do better for our kids and all kids.


When I began researching this project, it was clear to me that Blue Squirrel didn’t have to compete against other playsets, we had to compete against screens for the attention of today’s children. I realized I had to create something that would make them want to be outside and stay outside, engaging them on multiple levels and that offered an indoor/outdoor experience in case of inclement weather. I used my 25 years of experience as a real estate developer and multiple design consultations with my two little girls (their favorite part is the secret room behind the bookshelf 😊) to ensure that my next development project is my most impactful. 


Along with a team of industrial product designers and engineers, I created the Clubhouse Blue Squirrel’s inaugural outdoor playset – a modern take on a timeless product.  The Clubhouse seamlessly blends classic playground equipment (like monkey bars, a swing, climbing wall, and slide) with collaborative and creative playhouse accessories (like a soccer net, bucket and pulley systems, window boxes, chalkboard, and the hidden hideaway behind the bookshelf) for hours of structured free play. 


With so many outlets for imaginative and creative play in our Clubhouse, we at Blue Squirrel intend to reinvent the backyard, creating the perfect space to safely empower our kids to learn life lessons through play-based learning. Our hope is that Blue Squirrel will help to raise the next generation of independent, curious, self-sufficient children through play experiences that remain in their memories for years to come.


John Mason, Founder & CEO, #girldad 

photo of John Mason with his two daughters

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