After we had kids we realized there were a great need and demand for Scandinavian design-led products for life with kids. Norwegians are recognized for having a very functional approach to design, so in addition to the traditional, clean lines that Scandinavian design represents, we were determined to cultivate our Norwegian design heritage.
It has become a mantra for KAOS to develop functional, aesthetic products. We like to say it’s developed for kids, designed for you – clean lines and timeless design combined with high-quality materials make KAOS one of the best investments for toddler life; our products last long, through several phases of life.
Many people have questions about how we have started and how we work. Here we answer some of the questions we get most often. I hope it inspires you if you’re on the tip of starting something of your own. We’ll also tell you more about each and one product. Enjoy!
What was the most difficult thing about establishing your own business?
Oh.. It must be to find out everything; where to start and what you have to do to start and run your own webshop with your own designed products. Everything from systems at the bottom to barcodes on the products and pricing of goods. Not to mention developing the products themselves! It must have been by far the most difficult; to navigate in the jungle of manufacturers out there, prototyping and developing – when you don’t have that kind of experience from before.
You chose to quit good jobs to establish KAOS, right after you had chosen to establish a family, get a house… How was that, really?
It was definitely tough and characterized by much insecurity financially. One of us quit her job first when the other was still on maternity leave. Gineline had to go 3 months without salary. When we saw that sales increased by devoting more time to KAOS, Mette also quit her job a little over six months later to join in. It hasn’t been particularly lucrative for any of us since we started KAOS. We swap clothes, have shopping stops and eat crispbread for lunch. All the earnings we have been able to get from our sales have gone straight back into the company to grow. It has been absolutely crucial when we have not had investors – you have to accept living with less and being willing to sacrifice a great deal.
Quitting decent jobs was the only way to test this, you can’t do such a project half-hearted. We used all our savings and all our forces to get enough wind in the sail, and off we went.
Going into such a project after having recently become a mother must be a demanding task. It is hard enough to have children! How have you managed to balance entrepreneurial life with toddler life?
It’s ironic because we had never managed to establish KAOS if it hadn’t been for our kids. We have utilized 2 maternity leaves on the foundation of our company, idea, and platform, it was a fantastic opportunity we got thanks to the welfare state of Norway. The kids themselves are the very origin of all ideas and the need to create the products we now develop through KAOS. But of course, it’s been a lot of work. One of us sat at Innovation Norway in a meeting when her baby was only 6 days old, for example. And we’ve been crying our tears because it’s been tiring. But I find that starting and running your own business is a lot like getting children; it is tough and the responsibility for taking care of the business is more or less as big as the responsibility for taking care of the child. But once you just get into it, it gets easier.
And just like you never get completely free from children you don’t get free from work. You just have to make them two work together. Now that the oldest is 7 years and says he wants to be an inventor as his mom, I think it’s been so worth all the struggle. Being able to inspire my kids to achieve something in life makes me feel strong and confident. And I’m glad I have shown them it doesn’t come for free.
What obstacles have been the toughest so far?
Wow… There has been a lot of obstacles. Much has been about a lack of money to do things we want to do or services we want to buy since all our earnings from the turnover have gone back to the company to increase both inventories and add more items to the collection.
Many obstacles have probably been about a lack of experience and big chances we have taken that may not have proven to work well in practice. In addition, I feel there has been a lot of hard work to just finding out things because you have to figure out everything for yourself. Although many people may have done the same before you, people often hold their cards close to their chests. But that’s probably the thing. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
What has been the best thing about your journey so far?
It has been an incredibly exciting and fun journey, there is so much to look back on that we can hardly believe. The fact that we have got all the products we have today – we would never have dreamed of! And that we have such a good production facility going is also amazing. We manage to handle import, export, and distribution with our own online store in the center, which was the plan all the way. And that we have got a patent for the Endeløs wall bars and design protection on the Klapp high chair is a little victory in itself. My goodness, the fact that we have launched a new and innovative highchair is absolutely fantastic, isn’t it! It makes us so proud to have accomplished all these things. No wonder we love our jobs!
If you are going to give a recommendation to others that want to start up – what is it?
Make sure you have a unique concept or expertise that will make your idea or you succeed. There is tough competition out there with the survival of the fittest. Life is not for cowards if you don’t dare to try you sure won’t win anything.
All the best,
The Ransel diaper backpack (2015)
The Ransel diaper backpack is designed to be a regular, unisex backpack you’ll use long after diaper days are over. It’s carefully developed to hang perfectly on your back as well as on the stroller. It has 8 pockets to help you get organized and fits a 15” laptop. Separate clutch, changing mat and shoulder strap comes with each Ransel. KAOS Ransel diaper backpack holds a volume of 14 liters and fits all strollers including twin strollers.
The Weekend Bag (2017)
KAOS Weekend Bag is the perfectly designed bag to bring on little trips, with or without kids. It allows you to build up to 3 compartments inside to help organize the contents. The compartments will never get lost, when not in use they simply lay flat towards the bottom of the bag. KAOS Weekend bag is cabin size and holds a volume of 40 liters.
The KAOS Klapp foldable highchair for kids (2019)
KAOS Klapp was The Reason we wanted to establish KAOS in the first place. We needed a space saving, stylish highchair in high quality wood, and when we couldn’t find one we asked Norwegian Product Designer, Ole Petter Wullum, for help. It took 4 years to finish the chair because it was a difficult task. KAOS Klapp launched January 2019, fully certified as a safe highchair for kids according to European Standards (EN 14988 + EN71). The wood used making the KAOS Klapp chairs comes from sustainable forestry.
Klapp highchair is suitable for kids that manage to sit on their own (approximately 6 months) and up to 6 years. The chair comes ready assembled in the box, simply unfold the legs and “click” the seat into lock, and you’re ready. It’s easy to fold by releasing the lock under the seat, when folded it builds no more than 13 cm in depth.
KAOS Endeløs wall bar – modular system (2018)
When we grew up we had wall bars at home. As parents we wanted our kids to have wall bars too because it’s a great activity to offer them, but we wanted a stylish and flexible version that fitted our modern homes, a version that coul dhave various accessories to make it live longer. So we asked Norwegian product designers and rockstars Permafrost for help. They designed the KAOS Endeløs wall bar system that consists of modules and various accessories. We even received a patent for how the modules are assembled. KAOS Endeløs has become a huge favorite because of all the possibilities it brings, it’s such a great piece to be creative with. You can keep rebuilding it to make it grow with the child and it’s definitively a furniture you’ll keep throught the entire life.
KAOS Mini-Ransel kids backpack (2016)
KAOS Mini-Ransen is a kids backback with a lot of functionality; It is waterproof and washable. It has padded shoulder straps, adjustable chest buckle and mobile sitting pad. The sitting pad is super when out hiking (which we do a lot in Norway) and they sit down to have a snack, it keeps their bum warm. KAOS Mini-Ransel holds a volume of 8 liters.
KAOS Samlesak playbag (2015)
KAOS Samlesak playmat is a stylish and functional playbag with a practical handle that makes it easy to carry around. In clean design with subtle patterns it fits your living room as much as the kidsroom. Perfect as beach bag as well! KAOS Samlesak is 120 cm in diameter.