Waaaay back in March 2008, when this little blog was just finding it’s feet (and only 3 months old!) I ran an interview with Melbourne-based Kristina Karlsson, founder of kikki.K. As a newbie blogger I was super excited to interview Kristina – I’ve always been inspired hearing start-up stories from successful businesswomen, and Kristina’s candid responses were such a breath of fresh air. The bestest bit was where she said that at the beginning she had no idea where to start – very honest and very encouraging! (You can re-visit that interview here).
Kikki.K turns 10 this month – and what a decade it’s been. I am so in awe of Kristina’s incredible achievements, and I must say the immense growth of her business in such a short space of time is truly inspiring. It’s also a bit of a wake up call – this impressive milestone has me asking myself ‘where were you 10 years ago?’ and ‘where will you be 10 years from now?’. Excellent questions to brainstorm occasionally – so thanks for the reminder Kristina!
To celebrate their 10th year in business, kikki.K has released a super cute ‘Retrospective Wrapping Paper’ book, which features tear-out sheets of kikki.K’s favourite wrapping papers over the past 10 years, and a note from Kristina outlining each significant milestone, beginning with the opening of her first store in Melbourne Central in 2001. The book is valued at $29.95, but we have 5 to give away today!
To enter, simply leave your comment on this post today by 10.00pm Melbourne time. 5 winners will be selected at random and contacted by email tomorrow.
* UPDATE: THANKS SO MUCH for all your lovely comments guys! 5 winners have now been drawn, the lucky winners were Emily (comment #129), Liz Forrest (comment #163), Heidi (comment #251), Belinda (comment #142) and Gab (comment #212). Congratulations to the winners and thanks again Kristina!
Kristina also has some pearls of wisdom to share with us below… read on for 5 questions with Kristina K!
Congratulations on your 10th year in business with kikki.K! Can you let us know what your original goals were when launching the brand back in 2001? Did you ever expect kikki.K to become a household name, and to have retail shops across the country!?
My original goals included doing something that would excite me as I drove to work on a Monday morning. I wanted it to be something that would keep me in touch with Sweden, and my family and friends. I wanted the freedom of running my own business – although I’d had no formal business training. I also wanted it to be something to do with Swedish design, which I’d always had a passion for. And I wanted to make about $500 per week.
Although so much has changed since we first started, we always had a vision for going global and I feel like we are just getting started. I’m so excited for what the next 10 years will bring, and the chance to keep sharing Swedish design stationery, gorgeous gifts and organisation solutions with stationery lovers across the globe!
How does kikki.K look now compared to when you first launched the brand?
In the beginning we had a very small team – just my partner Paul and I – and we did everything. From working in the store, to packing boxes and managing accounts and payroll. Not forgetting actually designing the products too! A typical day for the first 5 years was at least 15 hours long – usually 7 days a week – but it was a labour of love so that came easily. These days things are a little more controlled. As we’ve grown, so has our team – in peak trading periods we now have over 900 staff. We now have boutiques across Australian, New Zealand and Singapore, and an online store that services the world.
With increased resources I can now focus on new products and design, which is what I love. I am still very hands on in that I work collaboratively with our Product and Design Team to develop and design new collection. My favourite part of the week is gathering with my Design Team to discuss new ranges, review designs and share inspiration. I still get excited about creating beautiful products our customers will love!
What has been your proudest moment or single achievement with kikki.K?
There are so many special moments that it is hard to choose. However, if I had to pick one, it would have to be opening the doors of our first kikki.K boutique in Melbourne Central, it was a lot of hard work but it was really rewarding. Shortly after opening our store was named Melbourne’s Most Innovative Store by the Lord Mayor. We knew we had something unique, and something that people responded to but we never expected to receive this award so early on.
What has been a key lesson you’ve learned in running your business?
One key lesson I have learnt when running your own business is that you just can’t do it all yourself. At some point if you want to grow your business and have a life you need to hire other people, let go and clearly delegate responsibility to them. Then you have to give them whatever support they need to get their jobs done.
Another important lesson I have learnt has been the value of having a mentor. My partner Paul has also been a total inspiration and a very supportive mentor – guiding me to one of my most important learnings – to find something I was passionate about and make it a career.
What’s next for Kristina Karlsson?
What’s next? More beautiful kikki.K stationery boutiques around the world. Our vision is still to have something kikki.K in every stylish life….I would love to one day open boutiques in New York, Copenhagen, Paris, Tokyo and London… so we’ll see you there someday soon!