Couple creates a unique business in Langley

Bill Cass puts some life into his creation Nymbol

Think about all of the imaginative dreams you had as a child that you suppressed or forgot as you entered the adult world. Most people simply leave those dreams far behind them. But Sam (Samantha) and Bill Cass decided to let the dreams inspire them, and the result is a new business in Langley: Nymbol’s Secret Garden.

The new-business owners said the store is a combination of all that they have become as they let their creative spirits soar. The two of them worked on designing an interior for the store that would frame their imaginary merchandise, including painting the walls to look like a forest and the floor to resemble a mandala of leaves.

Nymbol’s Secret Garden opened last month, and offers an amazing range of costumes, scarves, other clothing, books, and toys for big and little people. Nymbol the puppet, and the store’s namesake, is there to greet visitors. All of the items in the store are handmade, one- of-a-kind, and made by people Nymbol knows. In addition to the merchandise, they offer dress-up parties for children and adults, and frequent puppet shows with Nymbol as the star.

The couple lived in the corporate world for years, and both worked for Nike in Portland, Ore. before they moved to Whidbey Island. Sam was a graphic designer and a shoe designer; Bill designed footwear for Keds and Converse and spent the past 13 years designing shoes for Nike, including Lance Armstrong’s seven-time Tour de France-winning cycling shoe.

The couple was getting nervous about possible layoffs at Nike, however, and was also realizing that they wanted to live and raise their children in a different

environment. In February of this year, they visited Whidbey with some friends.

“The island called to us,” Sam recalled, and two months later they came back on their own and saw a “retail space available” sign in Langley.

The theme for Nymbol’s is “Make something beautiful by listening to your heart; infuse it with joy, magic and spirit; and add a light sprinkling of happy mistakes.” The store’s namesake itself is a fresh creation.

Bill got hooked into the puppet world through seeing the excitement in the eyes of his two daughters, Tabatha, 10, and Isadora, 8, when he read to his children using the puppets as the storytellers. He drew the character of Nymbol in time for Halloween last year, and decided he wanted to make his own puppet. After much trial and error, Nymbol was ready to hand out treats at the door, to the great delight of trick-or-treaters.

Bill said he has always loved to draw. While working at his shoe-designing jobs, he freelanced as an illustrator. He also illustrated his first book, which is being published by Random House this year, “The Survivorship Net,” written by his friend Jim Owens.

His latest passion is telling the story of Nymbol, of course. He currently has numerous illustrations he has prepared, and is working on the story for what he hopes will be the first in a series of Nymbol storybooks.

In the meantime, he creates puppets and loves doing puppet shows, both planned and spontaneous, for the young people who stop by the store. He also helps Sam with the day-to-day operations.

Sam makes costumes, jewelry, masks, wine labels, goddess shrines, wreathes, spray potions, drums, crowns, Halloween decorations and other items for the shop. She is also skilled at interior design, color consulting, package design, painting, drawing and silkscreening.

To find out more about the shop, visit www.nymbolssecretcarden.com. Nymbol’s adventures can be found on YouTube (Google “Nymbol’s Secret Garden”).