From the pavilion of the Toucan Rescue Ranch on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, tourists can sip coffee and contemplate a cornucopia of abuse. Those were the powerful opening words from the HuffPost earlier this summer, speaking on the current nature (no pun intended) of Costa Rican wildlife.

Costa Rica’s answer to nature’s cry has been a global example on wildlife preservation, incorporating efforts by multiple government agencies, NGOs, private landowners, and local communities.

“We hope to make a difference not just in people’s everyday lives, but also by contributing and giving back – by supporting a cause that we truly believe in. Our ultimate goal is to promote and raise awareness about the importance of Costa Rican wildlife and the conservation of the rainforest.” 

Sabina Rivas, LUNI Costa Rica

Grit Daily spoke with Sabina Rivas, the CEO/Founder of LUNI Costa Rica, which aims to “create new, modern souvenirs and gifts that represent [its] beautiful country and its culture.”

Grit Daily: You had your own entrepreneurial adventures before Luni. Share those.

Sabina Rivas: I have always been a very artistic, creative person and even before LUNI, my goal was to have my own business that would allow me to incorporate this aspect. For a couple years I had a photography business in Canada, but then the idea of LUNI Costa Rica was born which I thought was a great opportunity worth exploring and I relocated with my family back to Costa Rica where my father is from.

GD: For those who are unfamiliar with Costa Rica or its wildlife preservation efforts, explain how LUNI fits into the global picture.

SR: LUNI is proud to offer an exclusive collection of products inspired by the Costa Rican identity and cultural heritage- primarily one of Costa Rica’s national symbols-the oxcart.

Our goal has been to create new, modern “souvenirs” and gifts that represent this beautiful country and its culture and at the same time, to provide our clients with contemporary and elegant products that can be used on a daily basis.

The oxcart represents a large part of Costa Rica’s history. They allowed for the expansion and increase of exports of many goods, including Costa Rica’s main export-coffee (it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2005). Promoting this symbol in a more modern way brings it closer to the younger generation and helps to “keep it alive”.

We hope to make a difference not just in people’s everyday lives, but also by contributing and giving back – by supporting a cause that we truly believe in. Our ultimate goal is to promote and raise awareness about the importance of Costa Rica’s wildlife and the conservation of the rainforest and we are more than happy to be sponsoring The Kids Saving the Rainforest organization in Manuel Antonio which rescues wild animals and works hard on the reforestation and preservation or the rainforest.

Related: Life in Costa Rica is an Adventure Filled With New Friends

GD: Why bother to wade into what looks like a crowded market? 

SR: Even though it does look pretty saturated and there are many options for consumers to choose from, there is a constant demand for “something new” -something that nobody else is selling or what you can not find so easily.

People visiting Costa Rica often want to bring back home a more unique gift which would be functional at the same time, in comparison to the traditional souvenirs that usually only have decorative purposes. Therefore, our main focus has been innovation and creating unique products of the best quality.

GD: Would would you consider to be Costa Rica’s “brand?”

SR: Costa Rica has become very popular because of its natural beauty, the unique biodiversity, endless beaches, volcanoes, the rainforest, it’s very diverse culture and cuisine and of course, the “pura vida” lifestyle- very carefree, laid back and optimistic approach to life.

It has something to offer to everyone- whether you are looking for some R&R by the Pacific or the Caribbean or for an adventure in the jungle. It’s also important to mention that Costa Rica has no army since 1948, so it is also known to be a very peaceful country.

Costa Rica has been working hard on environmentalist issues and has recently received the “Champions of the Earth” Award by the United Nations for its decarbonization plan, the use of clean and renewable electricity and reversing deforestation.

Luni’s “pura vida” designs are immediately recognizable as decidedly “Costa Rican.”

GD: Why focus on business-to-business in what looks like a consumer-facing market?

SR: When we first started, we discovered a hole in the market- lots of businesses in the tourism industry were looking for new high quality products that would be different from the traditional souvenirs and which they could offer to their clients.

Instead of just the souvenir stores, we mainly focus on the top five-star hotels, travel and wedding agencies which offer our products to their travel groups and VIP’s. Celebrating corporate events and incentive trips in Costa Rica is becoming very popular and we are very grateful to be able to be part of this experience.