FPK is the brainchild of our Director and Head Designer, Gretel Meyer Odell. Gretel spent her childhood on a family farm on PEI, steeped in literature, music and nature. She was always the kid who won the prize for best costume at school – as in those days she often had one of the only handmade costumes. Always encouraged to use her imagination and creativity she grew up to be a live theatre professional in a career that spanned nearly 20 years of stage managing, props building and technical work. Her greatest passion was in producing theatre for young audiences.
When her 2 sons entered the scene she found herself bringing her theatrical and creative experience into helping them achieve their fantasies through dress-up play. The very first versions of many of FPK’s current designs are still enjoyed in her family’s own Tickle Trunk. Instead of buying a toy at the store, she and her elder son would design a dress-up article especially for his friends on their birthdays…a personalized cowboy vest, a dragontail, a special belt for wearing your light saber etc. These very special articles were treasured by the kids and the parents and years later are still in their family collections. The desire to make high quality dress-up with heirloom value and deep family sentiment attached grew itself into a dream and then officially into a business in 2008.
Today Fancy Pants Kids is carried in more than 20 fine toy stores and children’s boutiques across Canada. Our products are used in institutions such as the Royal Ontario Museum, large child care centres and busy family drop-in centres. These usages bear testament to our exceptional quality and the ability of our designs to withstand the rigours of high-volume kidsplay.
Our Core Values
We value excellent workmanship and value for our dollar. We love and cherish items that last from generation to generation in our family. Our designs are catalysts for exceptional memories, beloved photos and shared moments of joy. What better way to serve our customers than to make items of exceptional quality that will handily endure the journey from child to child to child, seeding a continuum of boundless creativity.
Dress-up can be a rowdy business and in households that truly nurture children’s imaginative leanings, costumes are often worn day-in and day-out, indoors and outdoors through mud, sleet and popsicles. Fabulous dress-up that cannot be washed is of very fleeting value to a creative household. We refuse create any designs that are not easily washed – either through conventional machine washing or by easily wiping with a damp, soapy cloth. We feel strongly that independent play allows children the best grounds for building their creative muscles, so we work hard to create designs that are simple to don and doff – allowing children the satisfaction of managing their quick-changes independently.
At Fancy Pants Kids we feel very passionately that age and gender are of very little significance in dress-up. We do not design a ‘girl’s’ line and a ‘boys’ line. Every item is carefully designed and marketed to allow it the fullest possible range of appeal to children – regardless of gender. In deeming an item a ‘princess’ accessory, you remove the possibility that it might be perfect for a wizard, king, knight or elf. You also make it not ‘okay’ for a boy to enjoy it. We offer our designs in a range of colours that help spread their appeal across diverse young personalities. We find with very few exceptions that boys and girls are equally thrilled with our products and are happy to be given the chance to explore the possible themes in their own unique ways. We also do our best to make sure our costumes can be worn by the widest range of body sizes possible. Our dragontail will fit from toddler to adult! Most of our headwear will adjust to fit heads of all sizes and supercapes come in a broad range of sizes. Adults should be able to play along. We believe that children to do not outgrow their passion for dress-up play, they merely get distracted by life. Our designs are notorious for awakening your inner wild thing.
We believe that if children are given the simplest of designs, they will be given the most room to create their own stories. When you present an item that is branded with a commercial character, it tends to allow for only one outcome. A simple black cape might evoke fantasies of vampires, crows, eagles, pteradons, wizards, cylones…or Batman. A cape branded with a bat logo, due to the extreme pervasiveness of commercial marketing sends a clear message of ‘what it is for’ that limits its potential. We have no problem with commercial character fantasies – we just want to see our designs allowing for the fullest potential of the imagination.
Children do not need to be visibly transformed from head to toe in order to consider themselves costumed or to derive maximum enjoyment from dress-up. The simplest item can spark a story for a child. We are most fond of our simplest designs – our series of adjustable Creature Headbands provides simple, clean lines that convey a shape/colour and feeling – but do not obscure the child’s face. We love nothing more than seeing a child’s sparkling eyes and animated face shining clearly through. When children look in the mirror while wearing Fancy Pants Kids, they see themselves as well as their fantasy, reinforcing their certainty that they ARE the magic they see and feel.