McMiLLER is a teeny weeny, queer-owned company that makes epic toys and games.
I run McMiLLER with my business and real-life partner, Julian, and together our goal is to bring you belly laughs in every box. We aim to pack each product with creativity, originality, and multi-generational fun.
How did you come up with the idea for McMiLLER? What makes McMiLLER unique?
I started out as a professional actor in London. After graduating, I got a nice role in a West End play, took one look at my paycheck and thought ‘I need to start a business.’
As a massive comedy fan, I grew frustrated with the lack of board games that genuinely made me laugh, and I felt there was a gap in the market.
In between acting jobs I used to teach drama to kids, and would invent games and little challenges to make them laugh. I quickly realized that kids and ‘tipsy’ adults often share the same silly sense of humour – so I converted those same drama challenges into our first ever party game, Game For Fame.
When Game For Fame became Amazon UK’s #1 selling board game (four Christmases in a row), Julian and I decided to leave the performing arts industry and focus entirely on all things McMiLLER.
Compared to performing and pitching comedy scripts, we both felt that the company gave us the creative freedom and independence that we craved – and we believe it’s that same creativity that makes McMiLLER products unique.
The toy and game market is a crowded place with lots of strong competition fighting for a customer’s attention, so Julian and I have to make each product stand out through strong design and unique gameplay. We call it the WTFun factor: you’re online scrolling through your socials, you see a McMiLLER product and you say to yourself ‘what the fun is that?’ – you stop scrolling, click to learn more, and we hopefully turn you into a happy customer.
How has the company evolved over the last 2 years?
Before COVID, we were still dividing our time between McMiLLER and pitching scripts and auditioning in Los Angeles. However as castings and pitching dried up due to the pandemic, the sales of our games started going through the roof. With everyone being trapped indoors and online all day, I think we all craved some escapism and entertainment that didn’t involve a screen.
We decided to drop all entertainment managers, lawyers and agents and focus entirely on McMiLLER, and from there the demand has skyrocketed beyond either of our expectations.
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What can we expect from McMiLLER in the future?
Growing more and more concerned about the impact plastic is having on our bodies and our environment, Julian and I have shifted our focus to developing sustainable products. We’re excited to use our creativity not only in our product design and gameplay, but also in our material choices.
For example, in our new card game UpRoar, we removed all plastic coating from the box and playing cards to make the game 100% biodegradable and compostable. It’s still long lasting and high quality, with the only downside being that it can scuff a bit more easily than plastic-coated products do over time. But this is a problem we believe our customer is comfortable with versus coating it in plastic that will still be here in 500 years. Last year we also started off-setting all our carbon emissions through ClimatePartner.
With Fire In The Hole, our new plunderin’ pirate game, we wanted a big, high impact tabletop game. But instead of making the whole thing out of plastic, we challenged ourselves to get that same ‘wow’ factor using pop up paper and cardboard design techniques. We also use wool felt, natural rubber and 100% organic cotton to give you the scale and feel of other centerpiece tabletop games, but with a much lower environmental impact.
The next step for us is moving into plastic-free toys. We’ve been working with vulcanized hard rubber – a material that’s used a lot in animal toys but not as much with kids toys – as a more sustainable alternative to plastic. We are currently seeing a lot of greenwashing in the toy and game industry, so Julian and I are proud to offer 100% plastic-free toys and games, so that we can continue to be heavy on the laughs, but light on the environment.