Photo by Jordan Hefler

Little things: The Modern Munchkin Co. aims to create purposeful playtime

When it comes to kids, there’s a lot of stuff. Toys. Gear. Clothes. Advice. And while it’s certainly not all bad, according to mom of two Whitney Major Tiemann, more doesn’t always mean better.

Time and again, Tiemann watched as her children Archer and Sloane’s playroom filled with battery-powered toys from big-box stores that were quickly discarded. “They would get bored after maybe 10 minutes,” she says. “I started looking for things to fill the gaps.”

Going to market with her mother Claire Major, who owns local interiors and art business Artvark, Tiemann was drawn to female-founded companies boasting products that aim to engage by promoting purposeful playtime. From felt blocks to a deck of kid-friendly affirmation cards, the toys were hits with her own kids. However, it wasn’t until August 2021 that Tiemann brought her sustainable and unique-to-Baton Rouge finds to the public with the launch of The Modern Munchkin Company.

“I have always had the entrepreneurial itch,” she says, noting her family of business owners. “I didn’t necessarily think it would end up being kid-related, but it came naturally. The items in my store are things that I have found that are sustainably sourced, dual-purpose and not widely available in Baton Rouge. Those are my priorities.”

But just as they do with the birth of children, priorities are always shifting, and Tiemann is adapting to her growing customer base. She recently launched a “gift finder” program that allows people to reach out to her directly to create tailored gift baskets for both moms-to-be and children of all ages. “This basket is for a friend of mine,” Tiemann notes, pointing to the basket pictured here with a crocheted blanket, Football Legends Alphabet book and knit rattle. “But it’s for everyone, from the person who doesn’t even know where to start to just people who care about the gifts they give and want them to be useful and beautiful.”

The gift curation form is available online now, along with Tiemann’s entire catalog, which she says is filled with presents that will “last so much longer than Christmas morning.” And in the age of COVID-19-related shipping delays, getting items in time for that ever-so-special date is the key.

“I want to be here to help people have a fun gift-giving experience,” Tiemann says. “I have loved watching my kids learn and grow from the toys I have introduced to them. I want to give other kids that same experience.”