Santa Barbara De Heredia, Costa Rica (PressExposure) August 20, 2008 -- When tourists started arriving to Costa Rica twenty-five years ago, California native, Laurel Anderson, recognized an opportunity and seized upon it with her hand-painted designs of the country's flora and fauna onto t-shirts, dresses and canvas tote bags.
At that time Laurel was living in Cahuita, on Costa Ricaâs Caribbean coast, and sold mostly to the tourists in that area. Over time, and while raising a family, the independent, spirited young entrepreneur expanded her small craft business to meet the growing number of souvenir stores throughout the country. And the rest, as they say is history.
But not quite.
Although tourism continues strong in Costa Rica, another aspect to the economy is the advent of high end hotels, condominiums and custom homes. Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, The Jack Parker Development and many others have been dazzled by the beauty of the country, thus placing their own footprint upon her sands and shores.
Laurel was looking for ways to expand her souvenir design and manufacturing business but wanted to maintain the hand-painted design aspect; she researched and spent months designing and fabricating hand-painted canvas rugs. Local businesses began ordering with their logo or favorite design painted onto canvas rugs and wall hangings for their entryways.
Thatâs when the idea hit.
âI wanted to work with hotel and home interior designers to establish a custom, unique service to this growing facet of the country with hand-painted textiles,â exclaims Laurel.
And that idea has taken off with the manufacturing for both custom and original designs expanded to include interior decorating items such as duvet and pillow covers, curtains for window and shower, large and small area rugs, place mats, and wall hangings. The ideas have kept her awake at night for many months, she confessed.
Laurelâs entrepreneurial spirit is contagious. She loves sharing ideas and working with her customers and does what few others bother with in this country: meets her deadlines. The workshop, located on her farm in the mountains north of San Jose, has a team of local ladies and their families whom sheâs been working with for years and is as devoted to them as she is to her own family.
For a young female entrepreneur to have started a business in a culture rich in so many ways but challenging in others, Laurel has blazed her trail through Costa Rica and come out smiling ear to ear.