Costa Rica – Origin of our First Products
products from Costa Rica are in our Toys and Kits and Jewelry sections.
The earliest beginnings of Forests of the World, LLC, are tied to a
Costa Rican company, Trópica Rainforest Products Company of San
Trópica's early history
Trópica was started in 1990 and sold a line of body care products
(cosmetics, shampoos, bath oils, etc.) made from essential oils, with
manufacturing handled by a small, family-owned soap factory. These
products were marketed through distributors in the U.S., Canada, and
Europe, and the company developed not only a close following of sales
personnel and distributors, but also contacts within the Costa Rican
conservation and research community.
The products were sold as "green products," where a percentage of
the profits were returned to conservation projects in Costa Rica, and
the company gave approximately one thousand dollars to the Rara Avis
Reserve in 1992. Though Tropica eventually stopped marketing their
body care line, Forests of the World still owns the trademark and U.S.
rights to the Tropica logo and art.
A colorful new product
At the beginning of 1992, Trópica developed the idea of selling boxes
of tropical seeds from local farmers. The idea was to allow consumers
to "Grow a Rainforest in Your Living Room." The packaging was unique:
the seeds, colorful and varied, were visible in the box. The product
was printed and manufactured in Costa Rica at a reasonable price and
included The Nature Company as one of its many clients.
These seeds came from two communities in the western mountains of
Costa Rica. Five employees acted as liaisons to these communities,
purchased the seeds at various times during the year, and hand
assembled the seed boxes. The company purchased these seeds from
local farmers at a price that well exceeded any other source of
revenue, making this project viable and important for sustainable
development in the region.
Our first partnership
Forests of the World was established in 1993 to market
Trópica's new line of seeds in the US. Actually, there were two
product lines: seeds for germination (growing plants), and seed
craft products. The product lines were designed for the rapidly
growing US market for easy, hands-on kits that teachers, parents and
children could enjoy at school or home.
Trópica ran for several years out of an office in Escazu, Costa Rica
until the original Costa Rica partners dissolved their partnership in
1996. A year later, Forests of the World acquired the assets of
We sold products in Costa Rica through a representative there for
several years. Manufacture of our Costa Rica-based products was
handled by two different Costa Rican entities.
First, we partnered with Lil Mena, Director of the Center for the
Study of Fibers and Papers (CIFIPA - Centro por Investigacion de
Fibras y Papeles), a socially and environmentally
conscious Costa Rican artist and director of a handicraft and banana
paper factory with over 30 employees in San Jose. She manufactured
products for sale in Costa Rica and also helped with US-bound goods.
Next, we contracted with Costa Rica's National Psychiatric Hospital to
produce the line of products for sale in CR. The Hospital needed a
project to provide therapy and revenue for their patients, and we were
happy to work with them.
In 1997, assembly of our Costa Rica products moved to the US. Members
of Candles of Hope, a group of financially challenged women living in
public housing communities in Durham, N.C., assembled some of our
Costa Rican products. This was a local cottage industry, where
components were delivered, assembled by Candles of Hope, then finished
products were picked up for shipment. This arrangement fit with our
mission of supporting local community development projects at home and
around the world. Today, educational products that are part of "Forests of
Costa Rica" are produced by The Forest Foundation.
Seeds from a variety of
plant species are collected by rural farmers and sold in "grow your
own rainforest" germination products for tourist markets and ecology
kits for teachers.
Many beautiful varieties of seeds are used to create beads which are
used for the Jungle Jewelry line of earrings, necklaces, World Unity
Bracelets, and the famous Jungle Jewelry Kits.
Other craft products from Forests of Costa Rica include Jungle Jacks,
Rock Chalk, and "Tic, Tac, Toe", and previously Painted Rainforest
Leaves and Malinche Seed Pod Musical Instruments.
In conjunction with CIFIPA, Forests of Costa Rica supported the
concept of a Regional Crafts Center of Central America, that would
provide support to rural artisan and producer groups. Over the years,
five percent of gross profit of the FOCR line has been given to the
Organization for Tropical Studies, their watershed protection and
environmental education programs.