Small Business Feature - Ellen Atkins of The Suburban Monk

Let me introduce you to an entrepreneur with an amazing story of inspiration and joy...

I stopped by Coqui Designs, a local florist in Cedar Grove. The owner, George, showed me a new product he had recently added to his shelves. It was a smiling, fat little Buddha named Syd and I was interested in the story behind the statue. 

George said a local woman had come up with the concept and that Syd was already flying off the shelves! I knew I had to find the creator and tracked her down at to see how she marketed Syd. Her name is Ellen Atkins and her story will encourage and inspire you. Creating Syd and The Suburban Monk came from a time of major transition in her life, where the past was gone . . . but she wasn’t quite sure what the future held. That void was very uncomfortable but Ellen was determined to find her way.

Here is a snippet of what I found out about Ellen and Syd…

Ellen was a respected CPA in her old life and liked her job well enough, but had a constant nagging feeling that there was a whole world that she was missing. Ellen could not put her finger on it, but her inner voice grew louder every day and it said: “Don’t get to the end of your life not having found the courage to see what else is out there.” Day after day, she went to work, raised her family and really had a wonderful life. Nothing was logical about quitting her 30 years in the corporate world to create her two thumbs up statue named Syd...but off she went.

The day after her first son left for college, she quit her career. That choice felt liberating but she had no idea about the next step. After trying all kinds of things, she became hyper-focused on what brought her real happiness, that real spark of joy in the moment, such as: a quote, a color or Laughing Monk statues she found in a catalogue. She bought a few monks and began to dress them up, attaching quotes and sending pictures to friends. There was such a positive reaction that she realized that adults laughed so little in their lives. She made it her mission to change that.

Ellen felt compelled to attend an Omega retreat with Michael Beckwith and this opened her heart to the metaphysical and spiritual world around her.  She started to follow her fun and creativity and before you knew it, a business was formed called The Suburban Monk with the cornerstone product being Syd, her two thumbs up magical little Buddha statue.

Syd brings joy in 14 different colors: Optimistic Orange, Abundant Green, Blissful Bronze and Sat Nam Silver to name a few… Syd brings fun, happiness, hope and good luck, humor, encouragement and inspiration to everyone.

Please visit to learn more about Ellen and Syd. Be sure to follow them on social media at FB and Instagram. Contact Ellen at Live. Laugh. Monk!