There’s nothing more pleasurable than cracking open your new planner and writing in it with matching stationery. Aesthetics aside, our stationery can have more of an impact on our goals than we care to imagine. We had the pleasure of chatting with Kristina Karlsson, the woman behind kikki.K, a Swedish design and stationery outfit that’s taking the world by storm. Kristina talks about inspiring us to dream, taking it to the next level to achieve success, and also her exciting new book, “Your Dream Life Starts Here”!
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do?
My name is Kristina Karlsson, I grew up on a small farm in Sweden but I currently live in Australia with my partner, Paul, and our two children, Axel and Tiffany. I am the Founder and Creative Director of global Swedish design and stationery business kikki.K. I’m also a dreamer, author, passionate learner and an absolute stationery lover!
kikki.K is a successful global brand, how did you feel when you realized what you had achieved? How did it feel to realize your dream?
I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved over the years with kikki.K but it feels like we’re just getting started! Some of my personal highlights have to include being nominated for the Innovation Award in the Oracle World Retail Awards (an award previously won by Apple and Nike) in 2010, being awarded as one of Australia’s ‘Top 50 Great Places to Work’ multiple times, writing my book ‘Your Dream Life Starts Here’ and launching our Dream Life movement in 2018.
Above all, it feels fantastic to have brought joy to millions of stationery and design lovers around the world. We want to inspire those same people to dream and I find myself still very happy to be driving to work on a Monday morning.
Can you tell us about the book? What inspired you to write it and what do you hope that readers can take away from it?
From travelling the world giving speeches and listening to people’s stories, I realised that most adults have lost their natural child-like ability to dream without limitation. Instead, they were progressing through life with aspirations or wishes, limited by false personal beliefs of what is possible for ‘someone like me’. I got a strong sense that many people feel helpless or lost in the face of it all, and it suddenly struck me that I could help!
That’s when I decided to write Your Dream Life Starts Here–a go-to guide to help inspire and empower millions of people, the world over, to create and achieve their dreams. It’s full of powerful ideas, inspiring real-life stories and simple tools to help you harness the power of dreaming and transform your life. I’ve spent years collecting inspiration and tips from others and trying things out for myself. That’s why I want to share these lessons with even more people. In my book, you can lean into and learn from the stories and wisdom of some amazing people who have dared to dream big. After starting from very humble backgrounds they lent their support to our dreaming movement by generously allowing me to share their incredible stories with you.
We also launched an inspiring podcast series, Your Dream Life, hosted by myself and featuring high profile guest dreamers. There will also be a Dream Life Masterclass event series with Dr. Tererai Trent and other guest speakers and in-store Dreaming Workshops. An e-Learning platform for kikki-k.com is due to launch in 2019, which will build on the concepts in my book and make engaging Dream Life learning more accessible, globally.
What have been some of the biggest challenges running your own business and how did you overcome it?
I had no formal training and English was my second language so the challenges were always going to be big! I didn’t even know what the word “invoice” meant. I thought it was something to do with talking, as in, “in-voice”! Apart from not understanding some of the business terminology, I also had almost no skills in the areas of finance, accounting or bookkeeping. I had no idea about marketing, how to run a retail store, how to recruit employees and what performance management was. I’d never even heard of logistics or operations and had no idea how to put together a product development schedule, run a trade show, negotiate a lease, make a sales presentation, build a website or write a position description.
Having said all that, I had a great idea, a clear vision, boundless enthusiasm and I knew that I could always find a way to overcome the challenges. Having an amazing support network in my partner Paul, my family and mentors also helped me immensely.
What are a few things you do to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
With a family of my own, it’s important to find that balance. That’s where having such a wonderful team of people who are just as passionate about striving for our vision really important. Remaining balanced is difficult but I try my best by sticking to a generic week. I get the important things done first and make social and family time just as important as work. “Me time” is also important and I set aside time for this early in the morning.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My partner Paul believed in me from the very beginning. He helped me discover what it was I wanted to do with my life and he’s been along for the ride ever since. At the age of 22, sleepless at 3:00am one morning, I woke Paul and asked “What am I going to do with my life?”. He asked me to grab a pen and a notepad and said “Let’s write down on paper what’s important to you and see if we can create some direction for you.” I certainly didn’t know it at the time, but that night Paul inspired and empowered me to really dream, which was to be a profoundly pivotal moment in my life. Paul challenged me to cast aside all constraints, all limiting thoughts, all complaints and frustrations, all of my head-driven thinking. He dared me to connect with my heart and my feelings and to dream about what I really wanted from life at that point in time.
My book is also filled with amazing stories from people who have and continue to inspire me in life. One person in particular, Dr. Tererai Trent, is a true inspiration to me. Growing up in rural Zimbabwe, with no access to education, she wrote down her dreams one day and went on to achieve them all. From getting her PhD to creating the Tererai Trent International Foundation, which helps to provide universal access to education for children!
Do you have a mentor? If yes, why do you think it’s important to have one?
From day one, I’ve always had lots of support from the people around me. My partner Paul has 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. Gillian Franklin who founded The Heat Group has also been a wonderful mentor and inspiration to me. She has taught me so many things. Perhaps the most important has been the value of having a mentor and learning from other people’s experiences.
Do you have any quotes you live by?
One of my favourite quotes is “Don’t say no, say how”. I really believe the sentiment. When you’re building a business, or any dream, you face a lot of hurdles. It is easy to stop at the first “no”, however I believe there is always a way. It’s about thinking outside the square and coming up with solutions rather than problems.
If you could only give one piece of advice for those wanting to follow their dreams, what would it be?
My book has a lot of advice on how to dream and actions to put in place to achieve them, but my one piece of advice is to write those dreams down on paper. Something magical happens when you dream, and something even more powerful happens when you write your dreams down on paper. It brings the intangible within reach. It’s a life-changing process and it’s been proven to work time and time again.
What do you think holds most people back from living their dreams?
Many people don’t give themselves permission to dream without limitation and find themselves living a life that they think is achievable or expected of them based on different factors instead of living a life they truly want. It’s so important to give yourself permission and cast off the constraints of everyday life and dream BIG.
For those of us struggling with finding the time, money or energy to change our path and follow our dreams, what three tips would be most helpful to get started on a new path and follow our dreams?
- Write your dreams down on paper. It is truly powerful and has been proven to work
- Prioritise your dreams
- Create a one-page dream roadmap, a plan for you to follow.
My book explains this in a lot more detail and ensures you have the best chance to achieving your dreams!
A new year is a great time for new beginnings, do you believe in setting goals for the year? If so, what are some of your goals this year?
A new year is a great time to set goals and to dream. I have many for the year ahead, but my biggest is to reach, inspire and empower even more people to dream all over the world. There’s also my dream of getting even closer to handing over a cheque for US $1 million to Dr Tererai Trent and her foundation.
Do you have a favorite chapter in the book? And why?
I love every chapter in the book because they are all filled with wonderful and useful tips and ideas from not only me, but many inspiring figures who have dared to dream big. These tips and tools will help you transform your wishes into dreams, and then into an achievable one-page road map for creating your dream life–a life designed by you for you and for your loved ones.
kikki.K Kowloon Station Little Boutique
MTR Station Pop-Up KOW 75, Kowloon Station
Shop 203, Level 2, Cityplaza, 18 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing, Hong Kong
kikki.K Prince’s Building
Shop 220, 2/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Charter Road, Central
kikki.K Harbour City
Shop 411, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Kowloon