Pope Joan Design is a multidisciplinary design studio based near the shores of Lake Ontario and run by Joan Simpson, specializing in brand alignment and refined identities for creative entrepreneurs who are looking to level-up their brand through visual branding to website design + development and photography to interior design, architecture + styling.

Pope Joan carries the client projects from inception to completion. Upon completion of our brand alignment process, we deliver a large package that equips you with the tools needed to launch your brand with confidence successfully. With this solid foundation in place, Pope Joan Design Studio can build out any accompanying elements of your brand with ease, whether it be website design and development, photography, full-service interior design, architecture and styling, a stationary system, or a packaging and merchandising suite.

With a warm and holistic approach, Pope Joan Design Studio guides you through a fine-tuned process that uncovers your why, identifies your goals, and leverages this information to craft a story that aligns with your mission. By harnessing your unique qualities, we create the framework for an identity that feels uniquely you, and successfully sets you apart from your competitors.

Pope Joan Design aligns, defines and refines™.



A question I am asked often since I launched this business. I felt I could do my small part to let Pope Joan be known and try to an emulate her tenacity in my tiny corner of the world all while being a mother of two little girls who I hope to instill a strong work ethic, teach them to express themselves creatively alongside me and educate them to stand in their power and create new social norms for themselves as females.

While not the topic of conversation within the Roman Catholic church, historical legend has it that a woman named Joan held the papal seat in the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, printed chronicles of her life spread throughout Europe recounting her story, shocking Christians throughout the world and gaining her worldwide fame.

Joan rebelled against medieval laws forbidding women to learn. When her older brother was brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan took up his identity and entered a monastery in Fulda, Germany where she was initiated into the brotherhood in his place. She was said to have lived her life disguised as a man named Brother "Johannas Anglicus", working her way up within the church distinguishing herself as a great scholar and healer.

Eventually, she was drawn to Rome, Italy, where she attained the highest throne in Christendom being elected Pope in 855, wielding a power greater than any woman before or since. As legend has it, she held the position for two years before her dramatic unveiling.

During a large religious procession to Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy, leading on horseback, the crowds cornered and startled her horse, causing it to buck. Joan’s sudden fall caused her to go into labor. She had apparently been hiding her pregnant belly under her papal garb for some time, thus unveiling her secret and exposing the fact that "Johannes" was actually Joan.

The public and the Catholic church itself were outraged – so much so that they tied her to her own horse and had her dragged around the city to be shamed before finally executing her.

While historians can’t seem to agree on whether the story of Pope Joan is true, the church insists that it is a mere legend – a story proven too tantalizing to be forgotten. Over the years, various researchers have attempted to find a real, historical Joan. The latest is Michael E. Habicht, Archäologe und Ägyptologe, an archaeologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. I, personally and hopefully, think he is onto something - http://bit.ly/popejoancoin.

Regardless of what may be true, it is undeniable that some choose to believe, including me.

We say that the #futureisfemale, which is undeniably true, but let us not forget an innumerable amount of females who were part of our powerful past that were silenced, erased, forgotten – including Pope Joan. Let her story live on.