How do you build commitment to a good cause into a business? Open your customers’ eyes to alternatives, and add a touch of personality to stand out. Ecosphere blossomed from Pernilla Johansson’s passion for safeguarding the environment into a fashion and lifestyle brand that offers people sustainable choices.

– I like to imagine that I’m both an academic and a dreamer. I studied for ten years. My education was pretty eclectic, touching on fashion, science, criminology, environmental science as well as sustainable urban planning and design. I took on things that I thought were fun and had an interest in. I had grand plans of becoming a criminal profiler but ended up working with my passion for the environment and sustainable living. I want to show people how fun and rewarding it is to live sustainably. Besides my physical store, I run a blog called Ekoenkelt, which along with my book “Ekoenkelt – Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle” has been featured on Sweden’s most prominent morning show. My aim is to teach people how to, in an easy and fun way, make our situation here on earth better, both for themselves and for others.

What made you decide to run your own business?

– I saw a gap in the market and decided to do something about it. In the beginning, it was more of a hobby that, to be frank, got me in over my head. Why did I push through? Well, it’s fun, challenging and gives me a lot of freedom. I get to be my own boss and I’m able to make a living working with my passion.

“I get inspired by ordinary men and women that dare to take a chance.”

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as an entrepreneur?

– Though there are countless things that I could’ve done differently, I wouldn’t say I view them as mistakes. This sounds so cliché, but I see most things that I could have done differently as learnings. One thing I would change if I started another company would be to feel less fearful of “killing your darlings.” In my case, that means that if there’s ever a day when it’s necessary to conclude a partnership with a brand, that I do so without feeling guilty.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur?

– My biggest strength is that I love to work and love to be my own boss. I also believe that I’m good at making people feel comfortable here, which has resulted in my store having a lot of personality and therefore, loyal customers. I wouldn’t say I’m a pro, so I’m more than happy to let someone else take care of the bookkeeping. Don’t be afraid to outsource and spend time doing the things you do best.

Why are small businesses important to society?

– Imagine a world dominated by the giants. Everywhere you go, you’d be greeted by the same food and retail chains. Boring and impersonal. Small businesses breathe life into the world and its societies. When they’re made with love, small businesses shape the kind of society I want to live in – varied, exciting and out of the ordinary.

What do you find inspiring?

– I get inspired by ordinary men and women who dare to take a chance, to avoid getting stuck on the hamster wheel and who are good at supporting their local community. A life that’s constantly styled doesn’t appeal to me – I prefer seeing unpretentious lives without window dressing. Someone inspiring who I think is cool is Jane Goodall – the woman who lived with wild chimpanzees.

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