While we all may think there is a complex recipe for success, Kristina Karlsson believes there’s actually a much simpler way – and it’s as easy as starting with your dreams. 

The founder and creative director of global stationery and gift company Kikki K told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested Podcast that while her life began in Sweden, her story really started when she met her partner in Australia.

“When I came here to Australia I was a little bit unsure what I was going to do with my life,” she said.

“It was a challenging time in terms of ‘what was I going to do with my life?’ And that was a good thing, because I dug deep.

“One morning at 3am, I woke him (Kristina’s partner) up, I think, for the fifth time saying ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ And he was a little bit over it, really. You know, ‘let’s just let’s stop this complaining and let’s do something about it’ … so, at 3am I wrote down a few of my dreams.”

One of those dreams was wanting a business of her own.

But I had no idea what that meant, I didn’t know, I had no experience. And I didn’t have anything specific in mind,” Kristina said.

Also on the dream list was the need to maintain a connection with Sweden.

It was really important to me to be able to go home if I needed to,” she said. 

“And then I wanted to work with Swedish design, because one of my real passions is beautiful Swedish design. And I wanted to have that in my life.”

Lastly, Kristina wanted to earn $500 per week. Now, it was a matter of putting the pieces together.

When I looked at that list and thought, well, I’m going to have my own business one day. And as a Swedish design lover, it was really important to me to have an inspiring place to think about my business.

“So I started with setting up my home office and went out to buy some (office) products to help me be organised and inspired. 

“But back then there wasn’t anything I was excited about. It was, in my view, really badly designed, bad quality. And I just thought, ‘this is so boring’.”

But then, the lightbulb moment. Kristina saw the opportunity that would bring everything together.

Then I got super excited about it and rushed home (and said) ‘I actually know what I’m going do now! I’m going to open beautiful Swedish designer stores specialising in stationery around the world in my favourite cities, being in London, Copenhagen, Paris, New York, Stockholm,” she said.

It was a moment of clarity that Kristina’s partner didn’t initially see.

“He thought I was crazy,” she said.

He said, ‘You know what that means? You have to sign leases and employ people and decide on product. And I said, ‘yeah, I’m excited!’”

Fast forward to today, and Kristina couldn’t have imagined where her dreams would take her.   Kikki.K is now one of the most recognised stationery empires in the world. She has opened over 100 stores, sells wholesale to over 2,000 stores and sells to over 247 countries online.

 “You don’t have to be great to start, but you actually have to start to be great,” Kristina said. 

It’s really sometimes good to not know what you don’t know.

“And that means that you are not scared of jumping in because if I knew what I would have had to go through in the last 20 years or so, I’m not sure if I knew that ahead of time that I would actually be able to do it.”

Despite Kristina’s success, the dreams continue.

“My dream was to open stores around the world. And now we have over a hundred stores in five countries, not in all my favourite cities … still working on my dream. So, I haven’t completed everything.

“You can dream or live a life and you can think about your dreams. But taking action is what makes all the difference. So, taking action every single day towards your dreams is very important.”

Listen to the full podcast interview here.

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