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As the preference for healthy eating and choosing organic products over conventional ones continues to gain popularity, one store in the East Village has been at the forefront of that movement for nearly twenty years and recognized as a leader in the organic, raw, gluten-free, and plant-based lifestyle. In addition, they offer nutritional consultations, cleansing programs, classes & lectures. Live Live & Organic at 261 East 10th Street is our February 2020 Business of the Month.
Window displays by Gregory Todd Allen @gregorytoddallen
Owner and local resident Christopher Dobrowolski has been in the business for over 20 years. He opened the brick and mortar shop in 2002 after operating from his apartment for a few years. At the time across the city and country, there was a rapidly growing wave of interest in raw food and healthy living. The modest-sized space became available at the right price and was right next to a raw food restaurant, not to mention across the street from the Russian and Turkish Baths. Christopher was glad to open in the East Village where he has lived for over 30 years.
Christopher became an expert in the field by working to address his own well-being. Tired of catching colds every few months, he thought “What else can I do?” besides repeatedly getting sick and taking pharmaceuticals. He grew up in Poland and spent three months every summer in the country with his grandparents where “the food was the best. There was no term like organic for them then, but it all was and from a high-quality soil. It was in my blood what good food should be.” He went back in some way to those roots, and in his own search for help early on came across the work of Norman Walker, the pioneer in the field of vegetable juicing and nutritional health. So he bought a juicer and got going on his path.
Christopher experimented with what made him feel better and studied health, nutrition, herbalism, and more. More and more friends would ask him for advice, or product recommendations. He was in touch with leaders in the raw food movement in the early 90s, from alcohol-free dance parties like Body Temple to wheatgrass juice soirees with Amy Rochelle. He was also a private chef that specialized in raw food when there were not so many knowledgeable people around. He held potluck events, lectures at the LGBTQ Center, and supported people as he does in the shop today, with coaching, lecturing and providing access to a panoply of high quality and ethically sourced products.
Since their grand opening in 2002, there have been a number of changes in the holistic realm. There is less of almost fanatical adherence to a 100% raw diet and people have branched out into other areas of health awareness, with keto paleo vegan plant-based fads all coming and going while the core of Live Live & Organic remained appealing to many. That is because they are not just a raw food store. They are an organic lifestyle store, with mostly raw food items, and supplements that are not synthetic or heat processed. Raw, vegan and gluten-free are their specialties.
Honey and bee pollen is another key component of what they offer. His friend and supplier care for the bees in an undisclosed location north of Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks, where the air is clean and pure. Christopher says of his beekeeper that he treats the bees better than most people treat fellow humans, harvesting half of the honey that is actually made, leaving plenty for the bees over the winter and over the year.
All kinds of people take advantage of the goods offered at Live Live & Organic, from firefighters to carpenters to movie stars, teachers, teens, therapists, and chefs. The store is international now with their web-based business, so it is not just Village progressives ahead of the cultural curve that shop there. While interviewing Christopher, Christine Datz-Romero from the Lower East Side Ecology Center and local compost program came in to replenish her supply of the Bee Yummy creme. She said it is nice to go to a local place that has a great product. Such word of mouth attributes to a lot of their clientele.
Another longtime downtown denizen, Gregory Allen, creates the ever-changing and visually striking window and merchandise displays in the store. Local friend Jenna Jones designed their signature logo and color scheme. Jenna is a designer and an artist and she was instrumental in making our store so aesthetically pleasing and fun. She is the one who created the store’s color scheme and look, designed all the labels, packaging, and logo. She was also the creative director who designed their website (Jon Jary, their manager with technical knowledge, executed her design).
Some of the most popular items at Live Live & Organic are the threefold-skincare products, superfoods, and supplements. They used to sell more books and appliances like dehydrators or a Vitamix, which they still carry. Besides the Adirondack bee pollen in their signature Bee Yummy, the St. John’s Wort and pine needles are hand-harvested at a specific time of the year to maximize the benefit of the skincare cream for which they helped create the formula. The dried strawberries took four years to source because “organic” ones are sometimes dipped in canola or other oil by distributors. But health does not have to be expensive; the store will even give away a little sample of the Bee Yummy, if you ask.
Live Live & Organic was the first to carry some now very successful brands. They were the first retail location for a local entrepreneur behind Dr. Cow nut cheese. FINE & RAW chocolate was started in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn artist loft by Daniel Sklaar and first carried in this shop. RMS Beauty, a cosmetic line, was started by a customer of Live Live & Organic, Rose-Marie, who was also a make-up artist that sent her models to the shop. In her own healing process and intense research, she discovered that some of the toxic chemicals and heavy metals in her system were also found in today’s beauty products we use daily. After rebuilding her own health, Rose-Marie realized she wanted to help other people claim their right to healthy, clean beauty and created the first-of-its-kind, truly organic color cosmetic line, RMS Beauty. It is now sold worldwide and growing.
Although some healthy places dissipate with whatever fad with which they arrived, Live Live & Organic is thriving as they have for nearly a full two decades. How have they accomplished this? Christopher says, “Persistence and perseverance and liking what I do. Sticking to principles like ‘Quality’ and finding exceptional and new things.” He loves his customers, managing the business, and interacting with people, he says.
Whether it’s flu season, or beach season, or any time of the year, Live Live & Organic can help you feel (and look) healthy and vibrant. That is why they are our February 2020 Business of the Month.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: