A Lancashire businesswoman has received an industry accolade for marketing toys without a gender bias.
Rachel Fairhurst set up Rachel’s Toyshop after seeing a gap in the market.
Now she has been awarded the Good Practice Toymark in recognition of the fact that she markets all her toys in an inclusive way and does not signpost them for girls or boys.
Wigan-based mother-of-two Rachel, aged 37, has premises in Coppull, near Chorley, as well as selling to a number of different countries via her online shop. She links her toys to activities and age groups rather than gender.
Rachel said: “When I was a child I went to ballet but I also played with Lego.
“I enjoyed playing football with my dad as well as cooking with my grandma.
“I just don’t think there was the same gender stereotyping – and certainly not around toys.
“Now you go into some major stores and there are literally aisles labelled toys for girls and ones with signs saying toys for boys.
“I just think all children should be able to enjoy whichever toys they like.”
She added: “We are supposed to have evolved but to limit choices in this way and encourage girls to love pink, seems to me to be going backwards.”
Rachel’s shop had to go through rigorous scrutiny from the Let Toys Be Toys campaign group before being given the award. The group wants the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls or boys.
Rachel said: “For insance, I make sure that my farm toys have a cowgirl and a cowboy and lots of my toys have characters with different skin tones too.
“Those who come into my shop really love the experience of seeing these toys and they consider them good value and much more interesting than many of the toys they see elsewhere.’
Rachel stocks toys which help with counting, telling the time and other useful skills in different languages – including Italian, German, Polish, French and Welsh.