The Eco Heart

When you walk past Øko Hjertet (The Eco Heart) located in Vika Oslo, with it’s inviting colours and benches along the windows, it’s hard not to take notice. But what you might not know is that inside this little corner shop, you will find Norway’s largest selection of organic food.

Published by Bianca on 31/07/2014

We met entrepreneur Robert Crnalic, founder and daily manager of Øko Hjertet. He is only 24 years old but has already started a store and café, a product line of organic foods and a secondary company with a partner. Robert Crnalic Tell us a little about yourself “I’m originally from Sweden with roots in Bosnia, but am now living in Oslo. I have always been the health conscious type and it was a dream of mine to open my own store one day. It is not not always that easy being your own boss, especially in a start-up, but at the same time you get so much freedom and you get to do what you like. I like that way of living.” What is Øko Hjertet? “Well, it is not your regular health food store. We don’t sell dietary supplements or anything like that. This is a refined Organic and Ecological food store. That is what makes us unique. Øko Hjertet is in addition a coffee shop and a salad bar - all rolled into one. We also have our own line of organic food products.” disken oko hjertet counter How do you like the neighbourhood? “The store is not in a busy shopping district and I knew when I opened up a store here, that it was going to take longer time for me to get a large number of costumers. But I would never want to be located in a mall or anything like that. I have gotten a very positive response from the people that live here, but there are also people coming from all over town because of our range of products.” Graphic Design display You have a very beautiful profile design “Thank you. It’s collaboration between a friend and me. He is a Graphic Designer and works at Miam Miam, a small design agency in Salzburg Austria. Already in 2011 I knew what the shop was going to be named and that I wanted a heart in the middle of it. But it took three years before the store was up and running. All of our own products also have this heart-flower on them, our symbol of a healthy choice.” Who is your average costumer? “It’s mostly women between 30-50 with purchase power. They are at a place in their life where they can prioritize health and environmental benefits over price. I have actually almost no male costumers what so ever. I have also seen an increase in younger women at the store, curious about what food can do for their health and a better way of living.” organic juice I’m not always that good at making those smart choices while shopping. So if I wanted to be healthier and more Eco-friendly, where should I start? “You should start by researching which products they spray the most and switch out those products. It’s for example bananas, strawberries and leafy greens. But there are so many products that you can get organic nowadays. We have everything from bread, beans and rice to cheeses and organic candy. You just have to start somewhere.” bulk food What does the future bring for Øko Hjertet? “I’m definitely thinking about more marketing and letting people know that there is an organic food store in Oslo. Right know it’s only word-by-mouth and of course social medias such as Facebook and Instagram. We are also expanding our selection of products sold in bulk. We are getting 50 new products for this purpose in a couple of weeks - so then I’ll have to redesign the store to make room. “ Just like that? “I built almost everything in here myself. The shelves are wooden boxes from the 70’s that I put together and even the counter is designed and built by me. I have some ideas for the autumn already. It is going to be easier to sit down and have a coffee - or maybe even breakfast. I’m going to make the counter shorter and put in some tables and chairs by the window next to the entrance. I want this to be a place where people can meet and share something healthy and tasty.” outside sign What should you try if you visit Øko Hjertet? “You should try one of our freshly pressed organic juices or our new Coconut Latte, it’s very tasty and not something you can't get anywhere.” - Bianca - All photography by Bianca Olsson

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