“I started the business with very little training or business knowledge, but I’ve never been scared to ask the questions that lots of people might think are stupid. I don’t think a question is ever too stupid, because what I’ve learnt from asking those questions has been a huge help to me along the way.” Kristina Karlsson.
How many ideas do you have clanging around in your head? Have you ever come up with something unique and thought, “that would make a great business.”
(Only to be distracted.)
It’s time for us to hear from someone who took note of her swirling ideas in the most literal sense.
Kristina ‘kikki’ Karlsson, the founder of kikki.K stationery took the time to listen to herself and articulated the life she wanted… at 3am!
The mother of two now runs more than 80 boutiques in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and an online store that services the world. She has won multiple business awards and was named on the BRW Young Rich list in 2011.
Martine Harte: Can you take us back to when the idea for kikki.K stationery first sparkled?
Kristina Karlsson: It seems like so long ago now! I think I was at a point in my life where I was just questioning – what am I going to do? I was a little restless – quite literally! That’s when Paul encouraged me to grab a notebook and pen at 3am instead of tossing and turning, and write what mattered most to me.
Looking back, I couldn’t have guessed that the 3am list could have led me to where I am today. It was when I went about setting up my home office where the ideally truly sparked. I was missing all the beautiful stationery and home office products I’d grown used to back home in Sweden – and the idea of bringing that to more people ticked all the boxes on my 3am list. Just like that, my idea started.
MH: So you encouraged then partner Paul (your future husband) to sell his home to fund the opening of the first boutique – that’s a huge call – did you know in your heart the idea would take off?
KK: It was such a big call – but I did promise I’d pay him back! Now a big cheque sits proudly in his office as a little reminder! I always did and still do have a crystal clear vision for kikki.K – and above all, I’m just so passionate about what I do.
MH: You moved to Australia from Sweden after meeting Paul at a ski resort was it a tough transition?
KK: Of course – plenty of hurdles! But nothing too big I couldn’t jump over. To start with, English was my second language. We still laugh at the fact I didn’t know what the word ‘invoice’ meant (I thought it was something about speaking, like in-voice!!).
MH: You are big on ‘vision boards’ and ‘imagine boards’ – how important is visualisation to manifest the life we want?
KK: I love vision boards! I have a big vision board in my home office, and in my office workspace. I’m very much a lover of being inspired by the words and wisdom of other people, so my vision boards are filled with lots and lots of wonderful quotes. I truly believe that dreaming is the first step to achieving – so whether it’s seeing it visually on a board, or by putting pen to paper, it’s creating a roadmap for where you want to be, and really does make a difference.
MH: I’ve read you started off with little business knowledge, how did you learn the ropes?
KK: You’re right, I started the business with very little training or business knowledge, but I’ve never been scared to ask the questions that lots of people might think are stupid. I don’t think a question is ever too stupid, because what I’ve learnt from asking those questions has been a huge help to me along the way.
MH: Can you name your greatest learning curve in business?
KK: There have been so many challenges to deal with and so many new experiences. One of my key learnings has been to be excited about change and excited about challenges – and to back ourselves to be creative enough to take more good decisions than bad ones.
MH: What works for you with combining work and family, are you a stickler for routine or do you surrender to chaos?
KK: With a family and a business I’m very passionate about, remaining balanced can be difficult. I try to achieve this by sticking to a generic week, to get the important things done first and put social and family time as important as work. I try to do some kind of exercise every morning and always focus on remaining fit and healthy. I try to take time out when I can to enjoy the little things in life that make me happy.
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