It's been three years since the idea of KAOS arised. I was pregnant with my second child and we dreamed of developing Scandinavian, functional design to parents. It is eighteen months since we launched KAOS and were featured on Norwegian TV show "Good Morning, Norway", the same day that we launched. It was huge.
"We" are Mette and me, btw. Sisters in law, partners in crime.
We have probably always had an underlying dream of creating something ourselves and this grew much stronger after we got kids. Many women have it that way; having a baby makes us crave for and need more freedom and flexibility to cope with "work / life balance." In Norway we are fortunate to have a long maternity leave (8-10 months while receiving salary. Awesomeness). Maternity leave gives us the chance to think about "life". And life sure gets some new values after having children. That's just how it is.
Prior to KAOS I was partner in an advertising agency and worked as a consultant with plenty of deadlines and deliverables. I was more or less torn the first years of kindergarten having to stay "at home with a sick child" all the time. Stress across the boarders, I might have failed to get back into the advertising industry after I got my "mommy heart". Mette felt the same way; she worked as a digital manager in Norway's largest media house. Neither of us had jobs that was possible to combine with "reduced employment". Some will certainly suggest it was a bad move to launch KAOS while we had other demanding full-time jobs, on top of everything else. Meanwhile, KAOS was not a full-time job back then, it was a hobby. And it was possible because the pleasure of dealing with KAOS has always been great and given us energy. But we had no idea that KAOS would be welcomed the way it was or that we would grow so rapidly. We managed KAOS next to other jobs for one year, then we had to make a choice. In 2016 we left other jobs to manage KAOS 100%.
It feels very good to be working for ourselves, we got the flexibility we were searching for. But starting a business is damned hard work. In our case we do everything from A to Z ourselves. We believe that anything we don't already know, we can learn. And we make sure to have fun while doing it. Long laughs conquer high salary - no doubt.
A typical workweek is very untypical
Like any other parents, we wake up early. We deliver kids in kindergarten when the kindergarten opens and tend to go through this weeks "to do" list while taking a run. A shower and a coffee later the machinery is fully running, and I would say we are extremely efficient and clever at multitasking.
One day we are working on product development and designing products that we get produced from producers in India.
The next day we have to work with logistics and economics. We import, handle customs clearance and ensure that the goods are fraternal divided between our warehouses in Norway and Sweden. We must constantly renegotiate agreements to streamline profits at all levels.
We are responsible for marketing and sales. We use the few resources we have to the fullest. That often means putting ourselves out there. We also try to ask for help from friends and people in our networks. We are so fortunate to know so many nice people! One should never be afraid to ask for help.
We work a lot with PR with the aim to get organic reach because we have no budget to spend. We must reach out to both B2C and B2B in both Norway and abroad. It is time consuming and laborious.
We invoice wholesalers and follow up.
We are obsessed with providing good customer service and answering daily inquiries by mail, telephone, insta, face - where ever the customers are.
In Norway we still pack and ship orders ourselves, but not for much longer. We must outsource fulfillment services in Norway very soon. It's getting too time consuming, and we must carefully use our resources for other tasks. In Sweden we already have people handling fulfillment and logistics to customers throughout the EU, USA, Canada, Japan and Australia.
We have no office yet, but vary our days by sittin in a collaborative working space, called Mesh in Oslo. Some days we work from Mettes house in Lørenskog and other days from my house at Voksen in Oslo. It will be awesome to have an office of our own - eventually.
We may well forget to eat lunch because we are so engrossed with work. Then we must take a serious break, maybe take the dogs for a walk. Every now or then we take time to make a OTT lunch, which we enjoy to the fullest. Eating ice cream or cake for dessert.
On good days we celebrate, on bad days we lift each other up. And every day we find ourselves laughing hilariously, without even knowing why.
When the clock is 16 CET, we try to pick up the kids from kindergarten. Emails and telephones are off, we just hang out with the kids. When the kids have gone to bed, we usually connect again - it's hard not to.
Bottom line: to start a business involves a lot of multitasking. It's not a job, it's a lifestyle. A workweek requires many hats and it's good to be two to share hats, sorrows and joys. Anyhow, you can do it if you just put your heart and mind to it. Go for it!
That being said, our company parties would be killing it if the team of resources that we are representing throughout the week existed and could participate for real :-D
Things take time - it will come!
Go chase your dreams, everyone - lots of love from the KAOS team:
From the top left:
Hilde Myrvold (economy), Jenny Wilden (customer service), Frida Holmen-Bach (social media-guru), Britt Fredriksen (logistics) og Vivi Holstvik (AD).
From the bottom left:
Linn Jespersen (IT-support), Mona Hole (Sales), Patricia Franck (Designer) og Julie Kaisers (copy writer).