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In the kitchen: Rya Letham goes nuts

Entrepreneur decides to spread her love of coconuts



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Sound easy?

Hardly. First there was the leap of faith. Then, the long hours, the steep learning curves, the sacrifice of almost all personal time.

The 33-year-old moved to Whistler from North Vancouver 15 years ago. It was the day after graduating from high school and she came to snowboard.

In that time she's finished a degree at the University of British Columbia in exercise science, while also studying nutrition. She later earned a degree in education at Simon Fraser University.

Meanwhile, she discovered her passion in yoga and went to India to learn more. She now teaches six classes a week.

She takes her philosophies in yoga to her business.

"A Dessert of En-Lighten'ment" states the jar, with its bright sea-blue label.

The naturally vegan product is free of sodium and salt. It is made not only with the flesh of coconuts — packed with fiber, protein, vitamins B1, B6, C and E, folic acid, calcium and iron — but also with coconut oil. Studies on coconut oil have also shown it to have antimicrobial effect.

While she's had little time to herself this year, Letham's not complaining. Rather, the opposite. It's as though she's found her calling.

"I am loving it," she said, apparent in the way she talks about her business.

And the dream doesn't end there.

Ultimately, she sees herself at her own coconut farm, spending half her time there, and the other half of her time making her products in a commercial kitchen here.

Already she's expanded from that first original flavour. Now the products range from Little Bean Vanilla to Co-Cashew to Green Zha'-LU. And then there's the Bite-Sized Orbs – little balls of coconut butter to tempt the taste buds.

To keep grounded, to keep from getting overwhelmed, Letham also writes daily affirmations and thank-yous and sends them to a friend to remind herself of why she's doing this and to stay mentally focused.

She asked if there's room to include this in her story: "I am super thankful for all friends and family that have helped me so far in many different (unique and amazing) ways."

That would be awesome, she said.