Maria & Sy

Founders of Nook

Making space to raise a family and build a brand.


Making space to raise a family and build a brand.


Maria Vogelei

Maria holds an MBA from Georgetown University. She is the mother of 3 kids (4, 2, <1) and lives in Arlington, VA.

In 2016, Maria left a successful career in marketing and branding to create Nook:

“I was frustrated with the play space options available to my daughter and me. They all seemed to speak in outdated generalizations: pinks, blues, and brightly colored plastic toys crammed in loud, chaotic spaces. I often found myself standing against a wall, counting down the minutes that would justify the cost of admission. Having struggled for years to start a family, I didn’t want to be sidelined for my daughters’ experience of play. This time is so special and fleeting and important not only to my kids’ development, but also to my growth as a woman and a mom—so I set out to create a space that would allow me to truly cherish this stage in our family’s life.”


Seo Yun “Sy” Yang

Sy holds an AB from Harvard University and law degrees from Columbia and McGill. She is a mother of 3 kids (5, 3, <1) and lives in Bethesda, MD.

“I spent much of my adult life agonizing over my education, my career choices, and career development. I thought the birth of my first child would be just another step, another milestone. Instead, my transition into new parenthood was life-altering—becoming a parent stretched my understanding of joy, but I also found it disorienting and isolating. Outside of my home, there was no space or experience that understood my reality as a new mom, but also saw me as a modern woman. I wanted to create a space and community where parents are people, too… because ultimately, kids thrive when the whole family thrives.”