With a background in accounting and after nearly twenty years of crunching numbers in an office, Paula Nielsen, founder of luxurious handmade store Kika & Co felt she needed something for herself – an avenue that would not only make her happy but others too. Drawing inspiration from what many retail boutique stores didn’t offer, Paula turned her mind to ethical and sustainable shopping. We catch up with Paula to talk about how she views the world as ‘one’ and why globalisation is the cornerstone of her store.
Kika & Co is the product of immense research and dedication, a homage to fair trade and sustainability. “There are many retail boutiques I adore and love to shop at, so instead of copying their niche, I drew inspiration from what they lacked, says Paula. A handmade store packed with so much ethical values, Kika & Co is testament to showing that there is nothing wrong with localism co-existing with globalisation. “I see the world as one” Paula muses. It is not divided by race,colour, religion or gender. This is why I also sell products handmade by some very talented international designers.”
Attributing her love for innovation and adventure to her star sign, Gemini, Paula says she loves the idea of something handmade in India or Greece sitting on a shelf next to another beautifully handmade item from her home town, Launceston. “The idea of bringing all together as one! I wanted to give my customers variety when choosing that special gift. I am a Gemini – we like change and become bored easily, so I need to keep my shop interesting and innovative!”
Regardless of trends and fads, Paula stays true to her principles when it comes to sourcing products and sticks by three main principles. “Sourcing products that will help individual artisans start up their business by making their handmade items known and giving them the confidence, sourcing only fair trade products, and sourcing items that are organic and chemical-free.”
Like every small business owner, the challenges that Paula faces are no small feat. Time seems to be the biggest obstacle but also a very critical factor to running a good business. “A lot of time goes into researching a product. I am dedicated to sourcing the most unique and ethically handmade piece. I avoid anything mass produced from a factory. I get so much satisfaction knowing an item has been made by an individual’s own hands in a safe, fair and comfortable environment.”
But research and back end work is the easy part for Paula. “With my accounting background, bookwork is the easy side of the business as well as sourcing and researching different products or artisans. On the other hand selling is not my strongest point. I am still learning and loving every facet of my business, especially working with and meeting so many talented wonderful people.”
“Knowing I have contributed to helping someone support themselves and their families ethically makes me smile, says Paula with much conviction. Mother to two beautiful kids, Paula knows the importance of family life and how that suffers in many parts of the world, including Australia. “KiKa & Co is really just me, although gratefully my daughter works with me on Saturdays. It is a balancing act of home life and work but organisation is the key!”
Check out Kika & Co’s facebook page here