We're not the only ones excited about transforming IKEA staples into hero pieces! Stylkea's owner and founder Kylie Hughes was interviewed by Brisbanista magazine this week about how she came up with the idea for Stylkea and how she approaches business challenges.
Here's a transcript of the interview or you can read the article on Brisbanista.
As soon as I discovered Stylkea, I lusted after their clever product range that allows you to customise your favourite furniture pieces with a luxury look. We chatted with Kylie Hughes about her company Sylkea.
Describe your company in a few words
Stylkea designs and makes peel-and-stick panels that transform your favourite IKEA staples into hero pieces.
What motivated you to start Stylkea?
My husband and I did a big home renovation a couple of years ago and I spent literally hours every week flicking through magazines and design sites searching for ways to get the same designer looks on a budget. In the process, I kept getting drawn back to IKEA, but the dilemma was that I didn’t want my house looking like a clone of the IKEA catalogue! And that’s how the idea for Stylkea started. They’re peel-and-stick overlay panels that help you get designer looks on a flat-pack budget.
What do you love about IKEA products?
What I love about IKEA is probably what most people love—the versatility and affordability. IKEA’s designs are always clean and timeless, which is why IKEA works so effortlessly with most décor. That being said, there’s an entire design subculture dedicated to IKEA hacking, which is all about finding ways to reimagine IKEA or stamp your own style on it. The idea behind Stylkea is that you can approach IKEA as if it’s a canvas, a starting point, and you get to become a co-creator in the design process. When you combine Stylkea panels with, say, handles or new legs, you end up with literally thousands of design options and luxurious-looking customised furniture.
What’s your favourite way of using your products?
Upcycling is my favourite way to use Stylkea. Gumtree is a great place to find used IKEA furniture and it’s often in great condition. I recently picked up a second-hand two-drawer Malm bedside table for $15, added mirror-gold Stylkea panels, plus handles from Bunnings, and ended up with a glamorous little bedside table for less than $50. By the way, we also offer a range of free-sized panels that are designed to fit other drawer fronts and cabinetry, not just IKEA.
Another fun way to use Stylkea is to emulate one of your favourite designers. For example, I have a crush on Jonathan Adler furniture, but it’s way beyond my budget. With our metallic finishes, Stylkea is designed to help you achieve a similar high-end look for a tiny fraction of the price. It really comes down to your imagination.
What’s your most popular selling product?
Our Malm range of Stylkea panels is very popular, which isn’t a surprise given that Malm drawers are one of IKEA’s top sellers. Malm is a brilliant canvas to work with because it’s clean and classic. The drawers come in a variety of combinations, from two-drawer bedside tables to six-drawer chests that lend themselves beautifully to customisation.
What’s been your proudest moment?
It took nearly 18 months from the point of coming up with the idea for Stylkea to launching it, so I’m proud that I had the discipline to keep chipping away it while holding down my day job and running a household and family. There’s always an endless list of things to do, so I try to focus on those “domino” actions that keep the business pushing forward day-to-day.
Tell us about the most important business lesson you’ve learnt so far?
It sounds like one of those cheesy inspirational posters, but the biggest business lesson I’ve learned is that persistence is the key ingredient. How willing are you to persist? To keep trying? To keep putting one foot in front of the other? Along the same lines, I’ve learned that putting your best half-baked plan into action is 100-percent more effective than perfecting a plan that never gets executed. Perfection is the enemy of success. Get your stuff out there, get feedback, make changes, get it out there again.
Who or what inspires you?
Travel inspires me! I recently returned from a family holiday to the Middle East which included visiting the ruins of Petra in southern Jordan. Instead of staying in a hotel, we roughed it in tents in a Bedouin-style compound out in the desert. It was magical! Jordan’s harsh, riddle-wrapped landscape contrasts with the softness and openness of its people. I came home with a broader mind and fuller heart.
Stylkea products allow you to customise your favourite furniture pieces with a luxury look at flat-pack prices. The Styl-Panels are purposely designed to effortlessly customise classic IKEA™ pieces, including Malm, Kallax, Besta and more. The panels are conveniently sized to fit other furniture pieces, too, like bed heads, drawers, sideboards, and bedside tables. Custom designs are also available. Head to the Stylkea website to see the full range and gain inspiration to transform your furniture into bespoke hero pieces.