Is there room for pretty stationery in a digital world?
Ten years ago, stationery lover Kristina Karlsson and her partner sold their house to fund a dream. The thought of losing everything is a terrifying thought. But it did not scare her one bit.
“I was never driven by money. I was driven by doing what I love,” Karlsson said.
Swedish-born Karlsson does not have a college degree. After high school she worked as a tour guide for fellow Swedes in Germany. She backpacked to Australia, where she eventually settled down and raised a family. She learned languages.
Wanting to do more in life, she came up with a list of things she wanted to achieve—among which was to run her own business and have a beautiful home office.
“I was used to having beautiful products in Sweden,” she said. “I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing in the market, and I decided that this was my calling.”
That calling has become
Kikki.K—a multimillion-dollar, award-winning brand of lifestyle products including stationery, journals and travel essentials. It has branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. They ship to over 200 destinations worldwide. In Manila, Kikki.K products are available in National Book Store.
Asked what she would change if she could have a do-over, she said she wouldn’t change a thing. Mistakes have helped her grow, and she’s grateful for the things she has now.
Her passion for her company has not wavered, even as she has stepped down as chief executive officer. She now enjoys being the company’s creative director, focusing on what she loves doing, with no people to manage and nobody else reporting to her.
Dream, do, enjoy and share
Her brand has evolved from selling prettily designed products to a company that inspires and empowers people from all walks of life. She explained how four words guide her brand: Dream, Do, Enjoy and Share.
“We want to encourage people to really dream. That if you can make three dreams happen, what will they be?” she said. “One of my personal goals is to encourage 101 million people to write down their dreams and make them happen.”
She acts on this dream. After the recent talk she gave at SM Aura Premier, she spent a few minutes with each person who lined up for her autograph. She asked them what their dreams were.
Dreams, she said, do not have to be big. It could simply mean raising a child well on your own. It doesn’t have to be a big business or a trip around the world. It’s whatever is right for you.
“Doing is taking action on your dreams, setting your goals, so that your dreams will happen,” she explained.
She then sets what she calls her holy hour, usually at 4 or 5 a.m., when everybody else is sleeping. This is her quiet time. She writes in her journal while drinking tea. This is also when she does “unconscious writing.” Every morning, she writes three pages of her complaints and throws them away after. She calls it a beautiful therapy.
Enjoyment is unique for each person but it is what makes a person’s life, she said. It is also important to share what you have.
“I think there is always someone who is behind you,” she said. “I want to encourage people to share so they can help. And by sharing, they get more anyway. Because that is how life works.”
What is the place of stationery and similar products in the digital age?
“We are so into technology and we spend so much time in it,” she said. “So I think there is a beautiful role for paper combined with technology. There’s a bit of research that when you write, you go slower. It’s more meaningful for you. When you write down goals every day, it is really beautiful. I keep my journals. I look at my notes. I will be writing the highlights of this trip, so that next time I will remember.”
Everything has a home
Her name is her brand (Kikki is the Swedish nickname for Kristina), and her products are her lifestyle. She said she cannot think straight when things are messy at home. So how does a mom keep her home orderly with two children?
She taught Axel, 10, and Tiffany, 7, that everything has a “home.” She turned it into a game in which the children returned toys and other objects they would use to their proper places. She categorized their toys and even color-coordinated their books.
Finding a home for everything could be applied to anything. To keep the bag clutter-free, one has to have pockets or places for all of one’s stuff like cell phone and keys, she said. It will help one find things easily.
We also checked what’s inside her bag to find out the things she travels with. She had Organic Lip Balm by Sarah London, Aveda lipstick, sunglasses from Stella McCartney, a mobile phone, dark chocolate and earphones.
She needs the earphones because she listens to podcasts. Her favorites include “The Tim Ferriss Show” and “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations.”
She always brings at least three Kikki.K products when she travels. She has a journal for her thoughts and ideas. The journals end up in her home and gets revisited from time to time. She brings a notebook for the things she needs to do immediately.
She also has the gold metal rollerball pen that is part of the Kikki.K collection. It is the only pen she uses and she loves it because it is refillable.
Despite the success of her company, Karlsson’s family is still renting. They do have plans to build their own house someday. But right now, she’s too busy encouraging everyone to dream.
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