Fresh from celebrating their first birthday, York based Children’s company Ingenues talk to us about their inspiration, female icons and breaking stereotypes.
O&O: Tell us a bit about Ingenues and what you do.
Ingenues: Ingenues is a not-for-profit company and we create fun educational children’s activities, workshops and parties. Each activity is based on an individual brilliant woman and includes information, costumes, experiments and games about them and their field as well as interviews with people who currently work in that area. So far Ingenues has made activities based on pilots, astronauts, confectioners and nurses and soon they will be joined by ballerinas, computer developers and chocolatiers. In addition to the activity packs we also offer corresponding workshops, events and parties.
O&O: What is the inspiration behind Ingenues?
I: Ingenues was inspired by my daughter. It was shortly before Christmas 2015 and I was originally intended as something for her. She was obsessed with Star Wars, and I mean obsessed. If you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up it was Luke Skywalker. She also wanted to be an engineer and played rugby and football and proudly won a medal for bo staff aged 7. This was of course all brilliant and I would have been happy with whatever she chose to be interested in. However, what I found frankly saddening was that she seemed to think that in order to do these things she had to be a boy. At the time, children’s media tended not to provide enough cool ass kicking female role models.
When Lola saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens that same Christmas she was presented with Rey and at the same time discovered a character that she truly loved and could identify with. She was rightly disappointed when Rey was omitted from all of the merchandise and this prompted me to look for gifts she would like whilst also promoting the work of brilliant women from history and telling their stories. When I couldn’t find this, I decided that I would do it myself.
O&O: What do you find is the highlight of running your business?
I: Playing! I run testing parties with children while developing each activity. In these, we do the activities and go through the booklets and make sure that everything is understandable and fun. These are brilliant because who better to test something than the target audience. Also, children are brutally honest and will tell you exactly what you have right and wrong. I love going through the activities with the kids, playing and just enjoying how excited they get about the packs. I also love getting feedback from kids and their parents about how much they’ve enjoyed something, or that they’re taken them to school to show their friends. Things like that drive me to create more and keeping telling the stories of these fantastic women.
O&O: What’s next for Ingenues?
I: Well, in addition to creating more activities and games I am working on ranges for younger children. There are also quite a few events coming up over the next year and I’m currently working on some top secret projects with other groups so watch this space.
O&O: If you could have anyone of the Ingenues icons’ careers, which would it be?
I: Wow, what a question, so many choices. Amy Johnson, who I made the first box about has really inspired me and I love her adventurous spirit. It has always been an ambition of mine to learn to fly and I do love to travel so I think I would pick being a pilot.website