Prepare to be INSPIRED. Today we have Joyce Keelan, toy inventor, creative genius, mother of 3, feminist extraordinaire, and owner of Great Pretenders a toy company out of Canada. The story about this single mother who went from being an extremely rare female engineer in the male-dominated auto industry to puppet makes and now head of a family-owned and majority female-run 30-year-old toy company is like no other. If you’re not inspired after listening to Joyce today, then we should probably send out a well check on your because you’re definitely not doing okay.
Creative Education was established in 1989 when Joyce Keelan, an engineer and mother of three, could not find appealing, educational toys for her children. She started the business by creating the Pic-A-Puppet Velcro puppet kit that went on to win the prestigious Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s S.N.A.P. (Special Needs Adaptable Play) Award. Although this product is long since gone from the portfolio, it did inspire the name for the company and the focus on “Pretend Play” that forms the basis for the dress up costumes in the line today. Great Pretenders was born. Joyce still heads the financial, design and product development aspects of the company with 3 warehouses and over 40 employees globally.