About us

Portrait of Isla beside window

Ingenues is the brainchild of inspiring woman Isla Macneil. 

The idea for Ingenues came about around Christmas 2015, shortly after the film release of the much anticipated ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Isla’s daughter loves Star Wars. Her bedroom is like a shrine and if you asked her, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, her answer was always a builder, an engineer or Luke Skywalker. These are all admirable ambitions. What made Isla sad was that her daughter thought you needed to be male to be any of these things. She wasn’t aware of all the wonderful, inspirational female role models who could show her that this simply was not the case.


This was further reinforced by the omission of ‘Rae’ action figures amongst the Star Wars toys and marketing when ‘The Force Awakens’ film was launched. Isla was inspired to see that people reacted to this, questioning those responsible for decision making.


Isla then dreamt up her activity boxes, each one about a different inspirational female figure, that could tell their story and promote an exciting career. She started talking to others, asking who their inspirational figures were and what they would want for the children in their lives or for themselves when they had been a child. The excitement with which people started reeling off names and ideas cemented her decision to start Ingenues and to make the boxes a reality.  


She made important decisions from the start. Every item would be tested by children, to make sure that the items included were what they really wanted. Each box would include everything they would need, without them having to source additional, and often expensive materials. The company would utilise and promote local small businesses and manufacturers in the creation of the boxes. All company profits would be ploughed straight back in to widening the product range and developing workshops, educational events and activities.

Portrait of Isla with two girls in costume high fiving

Isla is extremely proud to have been shortlisted for WeAreTheCity’s 2017 Rising Star Awards. The awards, sponsored by The Times and Sunday Times newspapers, showcase the amazing achievements of their nominees and Isla has been chosen from 1,250 women nominated from across the UK and Northern Ireland, in the Education and Academia category.

We are the City Rising Stars 2017 logo

You can see more about how Ingenues started in this fantastic article by Victoria Holland for Look North East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  

Look North report about gendered toys featuring Ingenues. Report by Victoria Holland. from Ingenues on Vimeo.

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