Southborough businesswoman embarks on a new adventure

Above: Nancy Engel with a basket of soap destined for the Southborough Food Pantry

Nancy Engel says she has always been an adventurer. She has lived in Brazil and Venezuela, and has traveled extensively in France, Turkey, and other parts of the world. For the longtime Southborough resident and businesswoman, a new adventure will soon begin.

Next month Engel, owner of Sunny Window, a specialty shop she has operated from her Pearl Street barn for the past 30 years, will pack up and move to the Central American nation of Costa Rica. The lure? Lush surroundings, a slower pace of life, and a new granddaughter.

Engel’s daughter Nicole lives in Costa Rica and manages a tour company there. Engel said after each visit with her daughter, it was getting harder and harder to return home to Southborough. “Finally something just clicked,” she said of her decision to move. “It’s time to make a change.”

Costa Rica is a long way from the Pearl Street home where Engel raised her daughter and grew her business. When she started Sunny Window, Engel was living in Framingham and on welfare. “I was getting married and welfare was ending,” Engel said. “I decided I had to make the most of that last check.”

She took the $30 welfare check, purchased some herbs “and just started making stuff.” What began as herbal bath mixes evolved over the years into a business that offers high-end soaps and products imported from Europe that nets $250K in sales annually.

“I’ve visited France for the lavender harvest and Turkey for the rose harvest,” Engel said. “Coming from nothing I’ve had so many amazing experiences.”

Engel says she’s looking forward to the new experiences ahead, but will miss all of those who have supported her over the years, from the Southborough mothers who used to help her make and package products in the barn while their kids were in school, to the customers who have shopped with her for more than 20 years.

“I have loved what my business has done, every minute of it,” Engel said. Sunny Window will continue without Engel at the helm in the hands of a friend of hers from Newton.

While Engel said she will enjoy the slower pace of life in Costa Rica, she plans to keep plenty busy helping her daughter with the tour company. She also plans to start a new blog that will focus on transformation – something Engel says she has plenty of experience with in her life – and possibly write a book.

“I like the challenge of building something new,” she said.

This weekend and next, Engel will host her final open studio at the barn. She’ll also hold an estate sale in her home to prepare for the move. The hours for both the open studio and estate sale are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on December 8 and 9, and again on December 15 and 16. Engel’s home and studio are located at 4 Pearl Street (map).

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11 years ago

I will miss her very much…

11 years ago

A wonderful story about a beautiful person! One can’t help but feel inspired after reading this! Me and my family will miss you terribly! I guess we will just have to visit you and Nicole in Costa Rica!

Amy K
11 years ago

Ive only known Nancy few years but she is the best and we will miss her!!

11 years ago

Nancy has been such a role model and is one of the strongest woman I know. Back in the late 90’s I was living with her for a while right after my divorce. It was through watching her succeed and build her business that I was able to do the same for myself. Fresh out of my divorce, I felt crushed. Her life’s experiences rubbed off and gave me the strength to reinvent my own life. I feel blessed to have had our time together. Thank you for everything Nancy!

Costa Rica……Here I come!!

Ingrid T

Nancy Vargas
11 years ago

Nancy Engel is a very special person and Southborough will miss her. Best of luck in your new adventure Nancy!

Carla J.
11 years ago

Nancy, you have lived by your quotes that you used to write on your chalkboard hanging in your Pearl St. kitchen-one in particular has left a mark and it is one I can say I have achieved because of your Confucius sharing chalkboard.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Thank you for keeping me in search of what I love.
ALL the best on this next adventure! You embrace the meaning of ‘circle of life.’ Enjoy Costa Rica once again! I hope to visit you all there soon. I love you.

Carol Cohen
11 years ago

Goodbye and safe journey, Nancy. I think of you every time I soap up with one of your Sunny Window fragrant soaps. I’ve been a happy customer for many years. A blog? You’re going to start a blog, from your new home in Costa Rica? Terrific! Looking forward to reading it!

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