Sostane Portland

Stephanie Frisch

Stephanie Frisch


Blue Ocean Events produces the Northwest’s largest sustainable lifestyle show. The Energy Trust Better Living Show is here to show the mainstream that ‘green never looked so good.’ We want to build a bigger choir! The power of a show setting is personal interaction–people can explore products, services, and organizations that can help them make better choices to improve their lives (and by extension, the earth) all in one place.

Green Steps Taken:

My business partner and I both operate out of home offices. We only mail one small postcard to our exhibitors each year and last year our show posters were printed on elephant poo paper! We invested in an online system that would allow us to take applications and payments via the internet and eliminate almost all paper in this process. We work with Bonneville Environmental Foundation to secure green tags to offset carbon emissions generated by producing the show. Making the show free has caused us to restructure our business model, since we are now solely dependent on 2 revenue streams (booth sales and sponsorship) to pay for the costs of the show. However, the outpouring of thanks we received from the public for making the show free keeps us continually focused on our commitment to keep it a free show.

Currently Working On

Working on the 2009 show right now. Have partnered with a national leader on sustainability to create high-level business content. This ‘solutions summit’ is gaining rapid momentum and we are excited to add this dimension to the national conversation amongst the nation’s business leaders.

Surprising Successes:

Having over 20,000 people attend the inaugural Energy Trust Better Living Show in March of 2008. It was the most successful new consumer show ever launched in Portland.

Having Trouble With:

Greening our daily transportation. While I do focus on grouping my family related errands, our business is still in the stage where much face-to-face interaction is necessary, so lots of meetings! Working from home offices does mean we are usually driving to them.

Growing your Business

For our EXHIBITORS: Continuing to deliver the audience to them so they can introduce new customers to their products/service/information. For sustainable businesses to be sustainable they need more people exposed to their products/services and shows can help do this. For the ATTENDEE: Providing a memorable, entertaining experience that informed and inspired them to take action in their own lives. For OURSELVES: Keep the show healthy by NOT growing too fast, balance what we are giving away (admission, free space to non-profits) with enough income to cover show costs and take a very reasonable salary.

Giving Back:

Our biggest (and scariest) decision was to make the show free to the public. We also donate up to 15% of our show floor space to small non-profits to help them spread their important messages. When sourcing for our few print pieces, we do carefully select recycled papers and soy-based inks. We supported one of our exhibitors for the inaugural show by using his elephant poo paper for our show poster (although our printer wasn’t so fond of the poo dust in his shop!). As a mom of a small child (I thought starting a new business and having a baby at the same time seemed like a very logical thing to do!) I’m not able to volunteer at this time. My business partner, however, is passionate about school gardens and has installed some beautiful projects at area schools. He’s also involved with Oregon Green Schools. We are members of the Portland Sustainable Business Network and The Natural Step.