Twelve years ago Swedish born Kristina Karlsson came to Melbourne with nothing but two empty hands and she had no business experience. In 2001 she started the stationery label kikki.K that today has 300 employees and a turnover of roughly 40 million USD.
Hard work is certainly an important factor behind the success, but, interestingly, the fact that she is a foreigner was a crucial asset. When she identified a gap in the home office market she filled it with a label that sells simple, timeless and stylish stationery products in a typically Swedish design. They would hardly be regarded as original in Scandinavia but on the Australian market they represented something new and were welcomed by enthusiastic buyers. kikki.K is now established in many cities in Australia and New Zeeland and Karlsson has received business awards as well as media attention.
The rapid growth of the young company is impressive and it is a great example of business innovation driven by the movement of people. When you act in a context that is different from the one where you grew up there is a much greater chance that your thoughts and ideas will be divergent from the ones around you. In other words rather obvious ideas may be innovative if you exploit them on a new location or in a foreign culture.
It would probably be hard to launch kikki.K successfully in Sweden in 2001. But in Melbourne - practically as far away from Sweden as you can come – Kristina Karlsson placed herself in the intersection of Swedish design aesthetics and the Australian market and it worked more than well.