Kikki.K Founder Kristina Karlsson is celebrating her business’ 10th birthday this month, and she took Dynamic Business through a look back at the lessons she’s learned during the course of her entrepreneurial journey.
Karlsson established Kikki.K in 2001 after noticing a gap in the home office market, when she wasn’t able to find stylish and practical products (like those in her native Scandinavia) to fit out her home office.
Kikki.K has seen rapid growth since its first Melbourne boutique opened for business a decade ago, with 60 stores now operating across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and an online store servicing the rest of the world.
Now, her stylish, self-designed stationary is a staple for design-conscious consumers keen to get their desks and offices organised.
Karlsson tells Dynamic Business about the importance of branding, learning to let go and staying one step ahead of the competition.
Q. What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned when setting up and growing the Kikki.K business?
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.
Q. What advice do you have for establishing and maintaining a strong brand?
Do something you’re really passionate about. You’re going to need to invest considerable energy and time into it, so make it something you really enjoy. In other words, have fun.
You must create a crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve and let that guide your decision-making and your team. When times get tough (and they will), your vision has to be strong enough to pull you and everyone else though.
Q. It’s a tough time to be in retail, so what advice do you have for other business owners struggling to stay afloat in this difficult climate?
We can only speak for ourselves but we see the tough retail climate as an opportune time to get back to the fundamentals. It is important to reassess your business expenses and think SMART.
It is important to always ask, “Is this the best approach to doing something, can be go about it in a different way that can help reduce costs and increase efficiencies?”
Q. What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
What I love is being able to do what I love every day – to drive to work on a Monday morning and be excited about the day ahead. It’s really rewarding to be able to work for myself in a job that I am truly passionate about.
It hasn’t always been an easy ride, being an entrepreneur certainly opened me up to a lot of risk and stress, not to mention loads of hard work. There were times when things were tough and giving up would’ve been an easy way out, however it was never really an option. When you sell your house to fund the business development, walking away from it all isn’t an option.
Q. How do you suggest entrepreneurs and business owners find a balance between work and the rest of their lives?
Remaining balanced can be quite challenging. I can only speak for myself but I find that trying to stick to a generic week helps. I try to get the important things done first and make sure that my family and personal life is an equally important priority.
I also like to exercise every morning, no matter how busy I am. This helps to clear my head and keeps me focused.
Q. How do you suggest businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors? Is this important?
Differentiating yourself, particularly in today’s economic climate and fiercely competitive market place is just as important as ever. Businesses need to give consumers a reason to choose their products over a competitors.
A key differentiator for kikki.K is our level of customer service. We aim to deliver “world class customer service” every time, and I think this is unique in that there is not a lot of great service out there.
– kikki.K is celebraying its 10th anniversary with the release of a limited edition Retrospective Wrapping Paper Book, featuring its loyal customers favourite designs from 2001-2011 and insights from Karlsson.