From dreaming to doing

Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson's (above) book Your Dream Life Starts Here contains life lessons and experiences as well as exercises to help people find their passions and take control of their lives.
Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson's (above) book Your Dream Life Starts Here contains life lessons and experiences as well as exercises to help people find their passions and take control of their lives. PHOTOS: KIKKI.K, SPH MAGAZINES
 Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson's book Your Dream Life Starts Here (above) contains life lessons and experiences as well as exercises to help people find their passions and take control of their lives.
Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson's book Your Dream Life Starts Here (above) contains life lessons and experiences as well as exercises to help people find their passions and take control of their lives.PHOTOS: KIKKI.K, SPH MAGAZINES
Kikki.K, started in 2001, is known for its diaries, planners and stationery items that embrace the clean lines of Swedish design.
Kikki.K, started in 2001, is known for its diaries, planners and stationery items that embrace the clean lines of Swedish design.PHOTOS: KIKKI.K, SPH MAGAZINES

Stationery label Kikki.K's founder Kristina Karlsson wants to encourage people to dream big and pursue their passion

It was in a moment of panic, at three in the morning about 20 years ago, that Kristina Karlsson decided to create her own stationery brand.

The Sweden-born founder of Kikki.K, who was then in her 20s and had just moved to Australia to be with her partner, was having a sleepless night worrying about her future and got out of bed to make a list of her dreams.

She went on to start Kikki.K in 2001, which today has more than 102 stores in 147 countries, earning annual sales of $81 million globally.

The brand is known for its beautiful diaries, planners and a host of other stationery items that embrace the clean lines of Swedish design.

The catchy name was adapted from Karlsson's childhood nickname and the brand's logo was drawn on a serviette after a few glasses of wine with a friend.

After realising her dream of setting up what is perhaps the world's most desirable stationery store, the 46-year-old now wants to help millions more women achieve theirs.

Karlsson, who had no formal training in business or manufacturing before she started Kikki.K, was in Singapore late last year to launch her book, Your Dream Life Starts Here.

The entrepreneur, who has a disarming smile and a preference for comfortable and casual attire during meetings, says her success story was realised through sheer hard work.

Her book is peppered with life lessons and experiences and she wants to spur and empower more than 100 million people all over the world to dream big and to get from "dreaming" to "doing".

The book also includes exercises which encourage people to tune into their passions and curiosities as well as develop clear action plans to take control of their lives.

It also comes with a Dream Life Journal to be used as a workbook, with each chapter corresponding to a chapter in the book.

The pages are also filled with the experiences of big names such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey, entrepreneur Richard Branson and fashion designer Stella McCartney.

Every purchase of the book also serves a good cause: US$1 (S$1.38) from each book sold will be donated to Tererai Trent International, a foundation established by Zimbabwean-American scholar/ humanitarian Tererai Trent. The funds will support Dr Trent's dream to provide universal access to quality education for children.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up on a farm amid a beautiful and natural environment. We never really travelled far. But I was a curious child and wondered a lot about the outside world. I was determined to go explore and find out more, even as a kid.

How much of a "lagom" (the Swedish philosophy of having "just the right amount for a balanced life") person are you?

I am not a lagom person at all. It is a good philosophy to adopt, but I am just not the type.

I am more of a "go for everything and if you never try, you never know" person.

I have worked very hard to put Kikki.K where it is today and am still very hands-on with the business, overseeing the design aspects, but I never stop dreaming and setting new goals.

Writing Your Dream Life Starts Here is just one of them. I wrote it with young people in mind.

Who or what inspires you?

All the people I have included in my book have inspired me in one way or another. Big names such as Oprah, Branson and, of course, Dr Tererai Trent.

Dr Trent's story is incredibly inspiring. Born into poverty and married off at a young age, she never stopped dreaming and pursuing her love of knowledge and education with sheer grit and determination.

Ask any successful person how she got there and you will find out it is a lot of hard work along the way and no shortcuts.

No one's life is perfect, even if it may seem a perfect life.

Spending time journalling also gives ideas and inspirations.

How do you destress?

I am big on self-care. I meditate and take long walks early in the morning, even when I am away.

I also pour out my thoughts, feelings and frustrations on paper - at least three pages of it. It is like a stream-of-consciousness thing.

After reading through, I'll crush everything and throw it away. I always feel better after that.

I also believe gratitude will take you far - even on a bad day, you can find things to be grateful for. Life is short, regardless of how long you live.

Which are the Kikki.K items you cannot live without?

The metal roller-ball gold pen - it is with me wherever I go.

And also my journal, in which I record my reflections of the different cities I visit for business or vacation and write about the people I meet and the things I am grateful for.

• Kristina Karlsson's Your Dream Life Starts Here is available in Kikki.K stores and online at www.kikki-k.com

• This article first appeared in the March issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.

Kikki.K, started in 2001, is known for its diaries, planners and stationery items that embrace the clean lines of Swedish design. Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson's (left) book Your Dream Life Starts Here (above) contains life lessons and experience

• Get the May and latest issue of Home & Decor now at all newsstands or download the digital edition of Home & Decor from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'From dreaming to doing'. Print Edition | Subscribe