Starting a green business, one that is environmentally-friendly, socially responsible, and economically sustainable, is one of the most gratifying experiences a person may have in their lives. Many people dream of the day when they can become their own boss and live their dream doing something they love, something that’s good for the planet, and something that will sustain them economically. Many more people dream of the day that they can live in paradise, where tropical birds sing every morning in your backyard, avocados and mangoes grow (literally) on trees, and they watch brilliant sunsets over the beach every night. Sofiah Thom dreamt of combining these dreams, and set up shop in Costa Rica to do just that.
Thom settled into Dominical, Costa Rica, two years ago and began work on her dream green business, a yoga studio and health retreat founded on the principles of bamboo. After a quick search on BetterWorldBooks.com, I found that the title “Principles of Bamboo” has not yet been written. If it sounds a strange topic for a book, you haven’t yet heard Thom’s metaphor for bamboo in her business.
Bamboo YogaPlay was founded on these principles, and Thom, who sports a beautiful tattoo of her favorite plant, intertwines environmental sustainability with the traditional mind/body/spirit principles of yoga in the metaphor. “Bamboo”, she says, “is rooted firmly and well grounded. It grows up strong and tall, yet is an open vessel on the inside, unpretentious and ready to be filled with the spirit of yoga. Its energy also flows well in our surroundings, helping to preserve this beautiful place as a local and renewable resource.”
Indeed, the entire studio seems to be constructed of locally grown bamboo. The floor of the studio, the walls, the roof structure (local palm leaves are used for the actual roofing material), and even some of the yoga clothing for sale in the Bamboutique (Bamboo YogaPlay’s retail store and front office) is made of bamboo.
Thom’s business is doing well, and Thom has expanded it to include lodging, personalized retreats, and surf/yoga packages. To keep with the sustainable motif, Thom got very creative with her lodging offerings: large reclaimed shipping containers were modified to create several different sized rooms that have been decorated and outfitted so comfortably that you would never know you were looking at something that might formerly have carried bananas, coffee, or coconut thousands of miles to market.
After all, when your backyard is this beautiful, how could you do business any other way? Thom has even created business cards and flyers from bamboo fibers. It may be creative marketing, but it’s also one more step toward a sustainable economy.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and hopes that someday, the green economy will simply be referred to as…the economy.