Star Wars toy snub inspires York mum to launch hero boxes for girls

June 08, 2016


Star Wars toy snub inspires York mum to launch hero boxes for girls

We often don’t see heroes for girls in the world - which is why York mum Isla Macneil has started Ingenues - activity boxes for girls that teach them about real women who’ve done really amazing things.

The idea came when her daughter Lola went to see Star Wars: the Force Awakens last year, but couldn’t find an action figure for her favourite character: Rey, the kick-ass hero who broke the blockbuster mold and inspired millions of girls around the world to be the heroes of their own stories.

“Lola was furious, and so was I.” explains Ingenues Director, Isla Macneil. “My daughter loves Star Wars, her bedroom is like a shrine, and until she was seven if you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up her answer was always a builder, an engineer or Luke Skywalker. But she thought she needed to be a boy to be any of these.”

That’s where the idea for Ingenues came from. “The world is full of incredible women who’ve changed history and done incredible things against the odds - but Lola didn’t know their stories. She didn’t know she could be like them when she grew up.”

Each Ingenues activity box focuses on a different inspirational woman - the jobs they did, the lives they led and the difference they’ve made in the world.

“I wanted the women to be as relatable as possible - so I started by focusing on Yorkshire women, like the pilot Amy Johnson from Hull, who was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia.

“Future boxes will include the cyclist Beryl Burton from Leeds and chocolatier Mary Ann Craven from York.

“Everything is tested by children first, to make sure that the boxes are as fun as possible, and everything is made by local small businesses, freelancers and manufacturers.”

The Ingenues launch party is being held on the 8th May 2016 at 5.30pm  at the Café 68, Gillygate, York.  Come and chat over tea and cake and tell us how we can help give your child’s party, local fete, or historical event a uniquely creative touch.



Notes to editors:


  • Photos from the Ingenues launch party are attached.

  • Ingenues is an exciting new not-for-profit company which makes educational activity boxes for children.  Each box is based on an inspirational woman and contents can include information, activities, experiments, costume and educational apps related to them and their field.

  • Ingenues is also offering entertaining and inventive workshops and parties and are working with schools, shops and festivals to make these accessible to as many people as possible.  

  • You can buy the first two boxes featuring the pilot Amy Johnson and astronaut Mae Jemison at Boxes are suitable for children aged 7-11

  • For more information contact Isla Macneil on 07891 099 864 or email

  • Find us on Facebook at weareingenues and join in the discussion on Twitter @weareingenues


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