September 28, 2022

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The design pioneers were hit hard by the lack of goods: - We were at the bottom of the waiting list

The design pioneers were hit hard by the lack of goods: – We were at the bottom of the waiting list

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DN Maps and names the most exciting companies in Norway in its Innovators of the Year award. Kaos Norge develops and sells design products for families with young children.

Last year, the founders of the design brand Kaos felt their own brand.

Mette Bordal Hansen (40) and Gineline Kalleberg (39) are sisters-in-law. Step by step, mothers of young children built the brand, which is based exclusively on in-house developed products.

Since their inception in 2015, they have achieved tremendous growth. Through the online store, they have sold the equipment to customers all over the world.

Then came the epidemic. And when the supply crunch really hit last year, there were strong emergency brakes.

– She was so cruel. We cut our sales in July and finally broke even and made money, says Calleberg.

Kaos’ business idea with the Klapp highchair started in 2014, which took five years to develop into a salable product.

And when several proprietary products were finally fully developed and funds were raised to support growth, the flow of merchandise came to a sudden halt.

– We’ve been empty since August and have been dehydrated for seven months, says Hansen.

Kaos Norge is one of about 150 companies who scored in this year’s DN Innovators Entrepreneur Survey.

Arrange the goods at that time

Suddenly, the lack of paint from Romania and screws from China became a big problem that was not taken into account in the business plan.

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Manufacturers have complete order books. Everyone wanted to produce more, but we were at the bottom of the queue, Hansen says.

Over the past year, they have only managed to produce 30 percent of the demand for a dog seat. Hence, the company’s strong growth has also stalled.

– In advance, we have arranged the goods from the chairs of all time. And nothing came of it, Hansen says.

They almost only have to laugh when they think of scenarios that hit almost simultaneously.

Lockdowns, bark beetles, value chain crunch and container problems hit almost simultaneously. It became a sandwich menu of Black Swans. After the pandemic, Calleberg says, there was also the energy crisis and war.

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good girl syndrome

The worst feeling came when they took money from investors last fall.

– We were promised green forests, and then the basket went straight to the ground. Then the “good girl” syndrome arose when we had to stand up and defend the company. Then we had to try to be a little visionary, says Hansen.

After an expensive product development phase, with a total deficit of nearly five million in four years, a lot was at stake for the entrepreneurs. They based the company on sales in their own channels and had limited equity.

It’s hard to stand this alone, says Calleberg.

Adversity was to stir up a new fighting spirit.

– Looking back, we demand to take the entire value chain of this type of physical product. There are many waking nights behind us, plus we’ve been raising kids. It’s a mess with two lines below, Hansen says.

The two sisters-in-law have spent all their holidays working on their business idea.

“We don’t think we’re in a family, because we’re like sisters,” Kaliberg points out.

Accessories like this table made of recyclable plastic are an important part of the highchair concept, but a supply crunch has delayed the accessories.

Accessories like this table made of recyclable plastic are an important part of the highchair concept, but a supply crunch has delayed the accessories. (Photo: Fartein Rudjord)

the lesson

Now they see a brighter future. Two new highchair manufacturers are brought in, and entrepreneurs are adding some extra margins in places where they previously took everything for granted.

– We’ve learned from the pandemic that you shouldn’t invest everything in one resource, says Calliberg.

They have set an offensive goal of reaching 100 million by 2024. Last year they exceeded 15 million kroner. The company is taking a new growth step when they are now on their way to the 27 children’s home chain of stores.

Kaos Norge raised NOK 8 million in two capital raising rounds. Askeladden founders Karl-Axel Bauer and Martin Schütt, among others, joined the property side.

The battle against Stokke begins

In the showroom in Bjølsen, it’s high under the ceiling, but it’s starting to acclimatize to growth. Half of all sales are outside Norway. Now they are ready to hit more markets.

– In recent years, we have only done production and development, while we have left-handed sales, says Hansen.

The two founders do not have an industrial designer background, but are self-taught after working with brands and graphic design for a number of years.

The two founders designed the bags and textiles themselves.

The two founders designed the bags and textiles themselves. (Photo: Fartein Rudjord)

The Klapp high chair was designed by Ole Peter Wullum, while the bags and textiles were designed by them.

As mothers of young children, they have experienced that there is a lot of use and waste as children grow. They saw the need for a more space-efficient child seat that simply folded. They set a goal of making products that can last through several stages and be completely circular.

– This is the first time a mother has launched a highchair. Only five child seats have been made that are meant to continue into the next phase, Hansen says, and there’s a reason for that.

The biggest competitor is Stokke, which is behind the classic Tripp Trapp design among other things.

There were tears of joy when the certification of the chair passed in Europe two years later. The highchair is now being tested for the US market. They now hope that the chain will go on sale soon, and that nothing unexpected will happen in the supply chain.

Fortunately, more and more children are born. The founders note that this is little consolation. (Conditions)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and/or our suppliers. We would like you to share our cases using a link that leads directly to our pages. All or part of the Content may not be copied or otherwise used with written permission or as permitted by law. For additional terms look here.