By: Ellen Zoe Golden Photos courtesy: Gigi Lucas
GiGi Lucas is a tall, striking dark woman who has a bohemian style. Most days, you can see her surfing on her longboard in the bay of Capitán Suizo hotel, or elsewhere around Tamarindo. What you probably can’t tell by her easygoing manner is that she has a dual life. She is the managing director and founder of the New York-based Rainy Group, a company that assists companies like Nike, Skype, Liz Claiborne, Kate Spade and J.Crew expand into international markets. Fortunately, when she’s not hopping around the globe, she’s at her home in Tamarindo. In this day and age, she can telecommute using the technology of the times to work her magic…when she’s not surfing. THE Tamarindo News talked with Lucas about how Tamarindo fits into her life plans.
THE Tamarindo News: You have a very successful marketing and branding career in New York. How did you end up living in Tamarindo?
GiGi Lucas: Successful is a very subjective word. The decision to move to Costa Rica actually came before I started my company. I came down to I friend’s wedding here in Tamarindo in 2012, and took a surfing lesson. After the second day, I completely knew that surfing and this town was something that I wanted to incorporate into my life in general, but didn’t quite know how it would work.
TTN: How did you do it?
GL: At the time, I was Director of Merchandizing and Brand Design for Nike in New York. I was mostly working with their Cole-Haan brand and Nike decided to divest it. Instead of staying on in the land of Corporate America, I was tired of it, so I started my own company. I really didn’t make the decision to move to Costa Rica until I left the corporate world. I realized the work could be done remotely. I said to Eli (her husband) ‘I’m moving to Costa Rica.’ First, he said, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I said, ‘Hear me out.’ We had previously thought about moving to Connecticut or Atlanta, but they did not speak to us. So the next year, we went back and forth to Costa Rica 7 times. It just all kind of happened.
TNN: How did you know that Tamarindo was your spot?
GL: I consider myself intuitive. There have only been 3 places in my life where I felt, ‘This is the place.’ First Chicago, when I was in college, then New York City, post-college, and then Tamarindo. I liked the weather here, of course, but there was something else about this place. The simple lifestyle in terms of things not being readily available to consume here. It makes me appreciate things, and the lifestyle gives me time and space to develop relationships. Relationships are the most important things in life.
TNN: How do you combine a simple life with a career in global branding for the likes of Skype, Nike, and others?
GL: It’s easy. My mother had a saying that you don’t have to play the game but you need to know the rules. It means that for my industry I have to know what’s going on and what’s relevant, so I can give my clients the best solutions. But, I don’t have to live their business for them.
TNN: What exactly do you do?
GL: I’m the managing directly and founder of The Rainy Group. I do consulting and help companies move onto the global scale beyond their home markets. Originally I was helping expand into BRIC, which is Brazil, Russia, India and China. Those were the emerging markets for 4 or 5 years. Now, it’s the Middle East.
TNN: Do you still travel away from here a lot?
GL: I do travel quite often, but I try to cluster trips so I can spend the most time I can in Tamarindo.
TNN: How does your life work while you are here in Tamarindo?
GL: An average day starts with me checking the surf. I always think, ‘How can I schedule my day around when I can surf?’
TNN: What do you like about surfing?
GL: I feel like surfing is the closest I can be to Mother Nature and I feel its priority and its strength. It reminds me how to behave in all aspects of my life. In the ocean, there’s this pressure that’s pure and I like being in harmony with everything.
TNN: Has surfing helped you in business?
GL: Definitely. The ocean is very powerful. It helps me in business dealings by showing me that all parties can win. Also, it has taught me that I need to standup and I can be that powerful force.
TNN: How do you see yourself in the future?
GL: You know that phrase, ‘reverting back to type’? I have reverted back to how I started. I was born in Florida, and grew up on beaches. I’ll always be on the beach. If that means I have to maintain this dual life to do it, then that’s what I’ll do. Tamarindo is a small community of locals and expats who know each other. The town will always rally together to support their own. It took 7 years to meet my neighbor in New York.
TTN: ¿Cómo se ve a usted en el futuro?
GL: ¿Conoce la frase “volver a las fuentes”? Yo volví a cómo empecé. Nací en la Florida y crecí siempre cerca de la playa. Siempre estuve en la playa. Si eso significa que debo mantener esta vida dual para hacerlo, pues eso es lo que haré. Tamarindo es una pequeña comunidad formada por gente local y por extranjeros que se conocen entre todos. El pueblo siempre estará unido para apoyarse mutuamente. Me tomó siete años conocer a mi vecino cuando vivía en Nueva York.