Abarca’s son Henry (left) plays with the Giraffes Can’t Dance kit alongside Mendler’s twins Shep and Clara. Photo by Sean Gasser

Through interactive kits, Memmy Co. is changing the way kids read books

What do a loofah, a wind-up mouse and a feather have in common? What about a maraca, a trio of felt stars and bendable animal figures?

These seemingly unrelated objects make sense together, respectively, in the hands of toddlers and in the context of vibrantly illustrated board books that are handpicked by Memmy Co. co-owner Emily Mendler, along with her sister and business partner Caroline Abarca.

The pair launched the interactive reading kit company back in April when they took ownership of the former Raney Co., which produced kits with a similar mission.

“Since my twins are getting older, I had been looking to start working again. But I didn’t want to do just anything. I wanted something I was passionate about,” Mendler explains, noting that Abarca, who also owns keepsake business Goodness Gracious Ceramic Prints, came on board to help her with things like social media and marketing. “I have a masters in psychology and a background working with neurodivergent children, so when I first started looking into these kits, I really started nerding out.”

Mendler is a mom of four, with 2-year-old twins, a 13-year-old and 10-year-old, and Abarca is a mom of two, with an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. Together, they have plenty of experience when it comes to entertaining kids. But Mendler’s professional background provides a strong foundation, allowing the kits to have an educational depth that sets Memmy Co. apart.

“These kits are specially made with early childhood development in mind,” Mendler says. “Every item I choose is very intentional. There’s different textures, bright colors, things that move.”

This wholistic approach led Mendler to the creation of her “play smarter” guides, which are included in each kit. These pieces of paper meant for parents are, in Mendler’s opinion, what unlocks “the real magic.” 

“These are cheat sheets for parents,” she explains. “Because while the kits can be played with by kids independently, they’re also meant to help parents engage and play with their kids.”

The guides give parents activities to try and questions to ask to help kids unlock new skills like sequencing.

Right now, Memmy Co. kits are available for purchase online, with local pick-up options available. However, in the coming months, the read and play kits will be popping up in children’s boutiques around town.

“So much thought goes into each kit,” Mendler says. “We want to create something that we would want to buy, and that other moms, grandmothers, aunts and anyone else would feel good buying, too. And we’re so excited to be able to bring these kits to even more kids and families.” memmyco.com