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Katie Romant

Katie Romant envied her fellow mothers who could create Pinterest-worthy arts and crafts with their children at the drop of a hat. A busy mom of two, the Birmingham native knew that she “wasn’t that mom. I didn’t have the time to prep and prepare all of these activities that you see all over social media, and I kept beating myself up about that. I knew I couldn’t be the only mom out there who’s trying to balance it all.”

In the fall of 2019, she took matters into her own hands and – despite claiming she wasn’t crafty – created TinkerTots Boxes, a monthly subscription box that includes five hands-on activities for those ages three to six.

“We had subscribed to cooking subscriptions like Blue Apron and I loved how organized it was, how they gave me everything I needed and nothing that I didn’t. I said I needed this delivered right to my doorstep for children’s activities.”

Acknowledging that there are other subscription boxes for kids out there, Romant said that none really catered to the preschool age group, which includes her own three- and five-year-olds. She contracted her friend, former kindergarten teacher, and mother of two Ashley Bahr of Grosse Pointe, to guide the activities and put an “educational stamp” on it, and Romant launched her business from her Birmingham home. The boxes have seasonal themes, and include activities that teach numbers and letters, as well as sensory and fine motor activities. There are also single-themed boxes that can be ordered as a one-time purchase.

TinkerTots Boxes was already taking off when, less than a year into the business, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving families quarantined inside their homes, away from caregivers, extended family, and educators.

“Families couldn’t be together, and parents were working from home. Grandparents were sending them [TinkerTots Boxes] to their kids to help with their grandkids and around the holidays.”

Romant says that grandparents continue to be consistent customers, buying the boxes for when grandchildren visit, as they don’t have a craft closet and all the miscellaneous supplies needed for entertaining young children. This same principle applies to parents, who are constantly learning what activities pique their little ones’ interest. “It’s a sampling of five activities to do with your children. Some are a hit, some are a miss, and you don’t want to run to the craft store and spend all that money on something your kid might not like.”

While TinkerTots Boxes are shipping nationwide, Romant’s company is firmly entrenched in the local metro Detroit community. Romant hired area high school students to help her prep the activities from the comforts of their own homes in between school and sports. TinkerTots has also rolled out fundraisers with local schools, including Kirk in the Hills Preschool in Bloomfield Township and First Kids Preschool in Birmingham. Twenty percent of every box sold through these fundraisers goes directly back to the school to use towards educational programming, a program she hopes will be rolled out nationwide in the next year.

The best part of all, though, for Romant, is that her kids have fun with the boxes.

“They are the best testers, and they are the most critical testers. So yes, it has resolved those times when you need an activity – now we have them coming out of our ears. It’s so convenient. I know it’s my own product, but it’s so easy for parents. They feel like they’ve actually done something instead of just handing over the iPad. We still do that, of course, but it makes me feel better about things as a mother.”

Story: Hillary Brody Anchill

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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