Twenty One Toys Inc.

Ilana Ben-Ari of 21 Toys Inc. / Ilana Ben-Ari, de 21 Toys inc.
  • Owner:

    Ilana Ben-Ari

  • Jobs Created:


  • Inception:


  • Mentor:

    Karen Kun

  • Industry:

    Education/Child Care/Child Enrichment

  • Location:

    Montreal, Quebec

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Business Profile

Twenty One Toys Inc. is a toy creation company that reimagines toys as tools to teach the key 21st Century skills: Empathy, Creativity, Collaborative Learning, Innovation and Problem Solving.

My Story

Changing the world through play

After studying Industrial Design at Carleton University, Ilana quickly realized she wanted to design toys. She recognized how important it was to do work that mattered and had a positive impact on her community, however she couldn’t find any socially-motivated design companies and didn’t think it was possible to be dedicated to a social mission and still make money.

Over time, Ilana discovered the world of social enterprise which started her down a new and incredibly rewarding career path. From a design stint in London, to working at a start-up accelerator in Helsinki, Finland and then with the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, Ilana has had the opportunity to meet with many incredible organizations in Canada and abroad. She feels that it is especially exciting to see where Canada is going in the social enterprise realm.

The first in a new set of toys is the award-winning CONNEXIONS™ TOY for Empathy & Creative Dialogue. Originally designed with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to bridge the communication gap between visually impaired students and their sighted classmates, it is now used as a tool for emphatic learning and creative education for people of varying ages and abilities, in classrooms and boardrooms around the world.

Ilana’s inspiration to start Twenty One Toys Inc. was not an entrepreneur, but an Italian designer and artist named Bruno Munari. “He had an incredible wit and sense of play in everything he did, and his unique flair led to a lot of valuable and respected contributions to the creative community. He has been greatly influential in my passion and belief that you can change the world with play and design.”


It is the hardest and easiest job you’ll have, so make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. ”