How Abby Sullivan Created Wundernook to Nurture the Wonder of Childhood While Simplifying the Journey of Parenthood, Episode 115

Have you ever struggled with finding a toy or any object to keep your kids entertained for more than a day? This episode features an inventor, business owner, and mom Abby Sullivan, who is also the founder of Wundernook, the patent-pending, modular building system that encourages open-ended play for children ages 3 to 10. It is a Scandinavian-inspired, modern heirloom constructed from sustainable materials in the USA. Wundernook’s mission is to nurture the wonder of childhood while also simplifying the journey of parenthood.

Abby and I met at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth before we had kids. At the time, neither of us could have ever imagined what it would be like to be a parent. And I’m glad we reconnected because motherhood is a shared journey. 

In this episode, Abby shares her insights including her realization that parents are imperfect humans too. She walks us through her journey as a mom wondering how she can keep her kids entertained while teaching them useful skills and growing with them. Abby offers her honest thoughts about being called an inventor and how she enjoys the world of imaginative play following a career in government – a place where a lot of us may not consider to be very imaginative. 

If you are in the thick of it with your kids then join me for a free workshop specifically for moms who want to be more present while staying sane. Go to It’s a one-hour gift for you, mom listeners, reminding you that you are not alone and you don’t have to do this alone. 

Share this episode with a parent who has a child between the ages of 3-10. You’ll be a hero because Wundernook does tick a lot of parent boxes. You’ll also be an advocate to a mom who had an idea and went for it.

Abby Sullivan’s Biography

Abby Sullivan created Wundernook out of her desire to create toys for her kids in a way that they could bring a fresh appeal to her kids all the time. She wanted every square foot of space occupied by toys to have a purpose that would add value to her kids’ experience. She then set out to create something new that would not only nurture a child’s learning through play, but would also make life easier for parents, caregivers, and teachers at the same time.

Abby then created a modular building system where kids can build and create what they’re interested in. It grows with them and evolves with their interests, their developmental skills, and teaches them STEM along the way.


Creativity: If you have an idea, create a survey to see if other people would be interested in purchasing your solution.

Courage: It takes courage to make mistakes in front of your kids but it’s important for them to see how you have faced hurdles and become that model for them. It’s also important for our kids to see the full age-appropriate picture. 

Curiosity: Learn about your suppliers and partners so you can make purchases in good conscience and celebrate brands that are operating in an ethical manner.

Inspiration: Abby saw a need in the market based on how things were going in her own household. She recalls giving her son a workbench for Christmas but he only played with it for six months. She realized they’ve got these single-function toys that are taking up space and there’s no STEM learning. 

Intentional: We don’t have to accept everything that comes along. It’s a choice. A lot of times the negative is coming, and we need to make that choice whether to listen to it and bring it into our consciousness and nurture that negativity. Or are we going to have a positive outlook?

Sustainability: Teach your kids to repurpose things. We’ve gotten into this crazy consumer society where something immediately breaks and you throw it in the trash. Wundernook teaches you that with the same materials, you can have so many different options. 

The wonder of parenthood: Wundernook is a cool vehicle or tool to help parents step back into that world and get their toes into the water.

Learn: With Wundernook, you will notice how your kids have different ways of solving a problem because not everyone is going to think about something the same way. You also get to learn about how your kids approach challenges.

Persistence: Say yes to opportunities to help you grow. But also be ready to say no.  It’s a lot easier to give up than it is to be patient, be persistent, and push through. It’s a skill you can use in business, and in parenting too!

If you enjoyed this chat, then tune into these two episodes:

How Do You Leverage Creativity to Reduce Anxiety? Sarah Spencer Teaches How to Use Curiosity and Imagination to Find Sparks of Joy in Your Life, Episode 80

Paul Musho, Former GE Executive Turned Franchisee Talks About His Career Pivot, the Benefits of Cryotherapy, and Running a Small Business During a Global Pandemic, Episode 20

Links to continue to learn from:


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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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