Today, I would like to introduce you to the person who got the last stone rolling for Passion Pilot. Christof is originally from Poland and is actually a teacher. At the beginning of 2019 he opened a health food store in Hermigua, a tiny village on the Spanish island of La Gomera. Read the interview and find out why.
LJ: Your own health food store on a heavenly Canary Island. How does that feel?
Christof: I am super happy. I would even say that I can currently call myself the happiest person in the world. Why? Because I just can’t wait to go to my shop in the morning. I don’t officially open until 11 a.m., but I’m usually here from 9 a.m.
LJ: How did that decision come about?
Christof: I’ve been living 90 percent of the time on raw food for years and had originally planned to open a vegan restaurant in Gran Canaria – up until a few months ago I had worked there as a vacation home manager. However, since I couldn’t find a suitable location and was quite burned out after the summer season, I decided to go on vacation first and switch off a bit on La Gomera. So it came about that one day I was sitting on Playa de la Caleta, here at Hermigua, and realized that I had just found my personal paradise.
Playa de la Caleta – the place Christof decided to stay
LJ: And how did it go from here?
Christof: I just spoke to people on the street and asked if they knew someone who was renting a house or apartment. On the very first day, I met a woman in the flower shop. She helped me with everything. The entire move, including the application for a residence permit, took a total of just under three weeks. That was probably fate.
LJ: What is different here than on Gran Canaria?
Christof: On La Gomera I get up in the morning and feel like living. In Gran Canaria I was in this system: consumption, hectic, concerns. Everything is quieter, wilder and less discovered here. You don’t need to lock the car here at night. I can even leave the shop door open if I want to get something in the supermarket real quick. There are few places in the world that are this safe.
LJ: And now the question of all questions: are you getting by with what you earn in the health food store?
Christof: No, actually not – although I’m a very minimalist person and don’t need much to live. The shop is more of a hobby. My bread-and-butter business is still my job as a vacation home manager. I have reduced the number of holiday homes and adapted the activities. Thanks to the internet and digitalization, this is possible today.
Christof’s view from the shop. It is located in the main road of Hermigua, La Gomera.
LJ: And how did you decide which holiday homes you wanted to give up and which not?
Christof: That’s a good question. I actually proceeded very analytically here. At that time I managed over 20 holiday homes. My everyday life consisted of advising interested parties, managing the bookings, looking after the check-ins and check-outs and organizing the cleaning. It all drained me insanely. So at the end of summer I made a list of all the things that are currently stressing me and then drew the appropriate conclusions. Among them were some of my customers, i.e. holiday home owners. The next day I called them and quit.
Today, I only manage six houses and I only take care of the things that can be done digitally. Everything else is done by my “second family” in Gran Canaria. These are dear friends of mine who I met through work. Of course, I would be happy if at some point I could live completely on the income from the health food store, but time will tell.
LJ: You have now dared to do your thing. What would you advise others to do?
Christof: I realized that spontaneity is important. I sometimes have the feeling that we have no control over our decisions and that someone else has the remote control in their hand. Most of the time, if you want something to much, it won’t work. The important thing is the idea, not that everything is ready from the start. If the idea is good, people and ways will automatically be found to implement it. It doesn’t all have to be ready on the first day. You have to give something of yourself and grow with the project.
The idea and spontaneity
Christof | Founder | BiosFera Health Food Store
LJ: How do you feel about failure? How about you if the health food store doesn’t work out the way you imagined?
Christof: Honestly. I just don’t think about it. This will definitely work. I have enough energy for what I want to do. The right attitude is important here.
LJ: If you are so passionate about the store, do you have any further plans for it?
Christof: Yes, indeed. I want to develop. Maybe it’ll work out with a small restaurant or bar after all. Maybe I’ll just offer smoothies and breakfast for now. I am very happy that more and more locals are coming to my shop. That is my goal, too. They are my long-term future here on the island. Because there is still something to pass on here. Most tourists from Europe are already aware of healthy eating, the locals less. Sometimes I can barely sleep at night when a local has bought something I wouldn’t have thought of him. By the way, the original idea of the store was somewhat different. I found an apartment quickly, but it took a while to open the shop. That’s why I tried a delivery service first. To test whether it was popular with the locals, I had 2,000 flyers printed and distributed in the surrounding villages. As a result, only two people reported back. Thank goodness I found the store and was totally surprised how positively everything turned out. Even the local television and radio were there to cover the opening. There is no other health food store anywhere in the north. I was a little attraction.
My shop opens at 11am, but I’m usually there by 9am.
Christof | Founder | BiosFera Health Food Store
LJ: But back to your personal path. You are actually a teacher. Why don’t you work in this job anymore?
Christof: I’m originally from Poland. I have been teaching social studies and German there since completing my studies in Warsaw. Even though I haven’t worked in this job for nine years, I still love it. I could well imagine if I had a little more time to teach one or two private students. I like that. I like people. And that’s why the health food store is the continuation of my work at the time. Completely different from my first years in Gran Canaria. Back then it was similar to La Gomera today. I was actually on vacation and then spontaneously decided to accept an offer from a German online printing company. They were urgently looking for someone who speaks fluent Polish to serve the market there. I am very grateful to this company. I learned a lot there. But in the long run I couldn’t breathe there. I was sitting in an open-plan office with five colleagues and felt locked in. I quit after four years. Two days later, I got into tourism. At first I was permanently employed. At that time there was only one Christof and 126 holiday homes. It wasn’t a good time for me personally, but I am also grateful to this company in retrospect, because there I learned everything I needed to be able to stand on my own two feet as a holiday home manager. Then one thing led to another. I started with a holiday home and built my own customer base through recommendations.
LJ: And where did you get your knowledge of running a health food store from?
LJ: What do you think you will tell me when I get back to you in a year?
Of course, nobody knows exactly. It may well be that I will be in Thailand then – but I will still be happy.
In fact, a year later, Christof was still sitting in front of his shop with his coffee and a book. My ex-boyfriend told me that. He was there by himself again last winter. That was now a year ago and an online research on my part has shown that Christof has probably given the shop to a friend from Gomera and moved to Portugal. I would be very interested in what the reason for this decision was. But something tells me that no matter what he does there, he is happy.