When Westbrook resident Heather Chandler decided to quit her job in public relations to publish a coupon book promoting environmentally friendly practices, she knew she was taking a chance.

But it was something she felt strongly about, so she did it anyway. And now that the book is a reality, she’s ecstatic that she did it.

Chandler, 35, is the publisher of the SunriseGuide, a 130-page, full-color coupon book with some $4,500 worth of coupons redeemable at southern Maine businesses that promote eco-friendly living.

The book, which was released in December, sells for $20 at 40 area businesses such as bookstores and grocery stores, many of which follow the book’s eco-friendly practices. It is also sold by schools and area nonprofit organizations, which get to keep part of the proceeds.

In addition to the coupons, the book is a resource guide on eco-friendly living, exploring such topics as food and dining, home and garden, travel and transportation, and health and outdoor living.

“The theme of the book is healthy and sustainable living,” said Chandler in a recent interview.

Healthy and sustainable living is something Chandler, who has lived in Westbrook for two years, tries to follow in her own life, which is the reason why she chose to do the book.

“I try to tread lightly, live simply,” she said.

The idea came to her on a vacation two years ago to the Pacific Northwest. While there, she saw a similar book being sold and thought it would be a great idea for southern Maine.

When she got back, she contacted the Portland, Oregon-based publisher and tried to get the company to publish a similar book here, which she said she thought the people of Maine would embrace.

She was working in public relations at Sweetser, a nonprofit behavioral health-care organization, but she spent the next year trying to get the Oregon publisher to come to Maine. The company told her if she could get enough interest from local businesses, she could start a Portland office and publish the book. In the end, however, the company backed out.

Chandler said she was discouraged, and dropped the idea for a few months. But it kept nagging at her.

“It always came back to the book,” she said.

While she had worked on may publications, she said she had little experience in book publishing. Nonetheless, by the beginning of 2006, Chandler finally decided to try it. In April, she left her job and began freelancing public relations work. A month later, she made a leap of faith and quit the freelancing to do the book full time. She said she invested about $10,000 and the money to support herself.

With the help of a few employees, including her mother, Jayne Chandler, the book took form over last summer. To help her, Chandler rented a space at the Maine Center for Enterprise Development, a business incubator on the Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine. She said the center was a good resource for her as well as a place to work outside of her home.

“I think I would have gone crazy if I was doing the book in my house,” she said of the long hours.

Chandler said she contacted and visited many of the advertisers, and also contracted for ad sales assistance.

The book was finally released on Dec. 1, much to Chandler’s pleasure and even surprise. Her revenue comes from She said sales of the book have gone well. The businesses with coupons buy their space in the book – she said she’s making a profit – and she is hoping to be able to make it her permanent, full-time job.

In fact, Chandler is already planning a second book for next year. For this year, she covered Biddeford to Brunswick. Next year, she hopes to expand westward. After that, she might look to expand up the coast with a mid-coast addition.


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