Who are we?
Here at Great Pretenders, we are a small but dynamic group of people (and an occasional dog or two!) We have designers with a love of children, fantasy and fabric. Talented cutters and sewers who bring designs to life. Reliable shippers who keep it all-straight and make sure the right products get to the right places. Plus, an amazing administrative group who dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Our team shares a passion for children, toys & female entrepreneurship.
More than just a costume brand, we are on a mission to inspire & empower children to explore their creativity, embrace their individuality, and unleash their imagination.
Feeling disconnected from an industry that lacked imaginative, open-ended play, Founder & CEO Joyce Keelan set out on an ambitious journey to launch a brand that would deliver on her vision of innovative high value lifestyle toys. 35 years later, with a team comprised of over 75% women, Great Pretenders is proud to have shipped products to boutiques, concept stores, gift shops and some of the best toy stores across the globe, all while introducing innovative new designs and trend setting categories from our hometown of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
FROM THE FOUNDER
“I think it was Agatha Christie who once said, one of the luckiest things that can happen to you is to have a happy childhood. For me, making products to cultivate happiness and enrich childhood... it's been my life's work. "
My family has always been a huge part of my story. When my children were young, I am the first to admit I was frustrated by the lack of options in children's toys. I remember shopping for a birthday present for Katie, & being presented with an isle of plastic cleaning appliances; toy vacuums & irons. I realize there were of course puzzles & some choices, but I really felt as a young mom that if I wanted to raise independent, creative & intelligent children, I had to provide them with toys that allowed them to express their creativity freely. At Great Pretenders, we’re shifting the focus from traditional gender roles displayed in toys to open-ended dress-up that allows children to be whoever & whatever they dream to be. Anyone can put on a tutu, there are no rules with our products, only hours of imaginative play.
–Joyce Keelan, Founder & CEO