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Career Changers: Anita Krikowa

Molly McLaughlin

WITH A BACKGROUND IN HUMAN RESOURCES, ANITA KRIKOWA HAD NO BUSINESS OR CONSTRUCTION EXPERIENCE WHEN SHE FOUNDED FURNITURE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING BUSINESS BOYANDGIRLCO IN CANBERRA WITH HER HUSBAND CARLO ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO.

What she did have was a passion for sustainability and a willingness to do whatever it took to make her vision of making recycled furniture a reality.

“For the first three months we were still working in our corporate roles,” she says. “We’d get up at six and go to the gym, then get ready to go to work, work until about four or five, then we’d come home and eat dinner and either go into the workshop (which was our garage at the time) or we would do admin
 in our study until about three in the morning. I can’t actually believe that we did it.”

Anita started attending university but dropped 
out because she found she couldn’t learn in the strict, academic environment. She then worked in a corporate role for the Australian Federal Police until the idea for boyandgirlco struck over lunch with Carlo. The couple started out by making and selling wood pallet furniture at markets and seeking out books and videos they could learn from.

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They also brought on a carpenter to help them get the basics sorted.

“It was a steep learning curve,” Anita laughs. “I had never done anything in business before and neither had my friends. I didn’t have anyone I could really talk to about it so I started to reach out to other women so I could learn from them. I mean, when we first started we didn’t even have any power tools!”

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Photography by Martin Ollman

Anita’s business is founded on the need to create long- lasting pieces from recycled pallets. After researching the volumes of pallets that are sent to landfill annually, she knew she had to do something.

Boyandgirlco

Boyandgirlco

“We want to encourage education about how best we can design something so it isn’t rendered useless in
 a couple of years,” she says. “We think about how to upcycle items, for example, how to design something that’s in trend now and how it can be changed for future trends. I love being able to sit down and have a chat with someone at the markets about creating something that’s come from items that people usually think of as waste.”

A design by Boyandgirlco.

A design by Boyandgirlco.

While having such a close partnership with her husband has allowed boyandgirlco to flourish, Anita says there are some ground rules.

“The line between being a married couple and being a business partnership needs to be refined all the time,” she says. “We don’t talk about business after a certain time.”

Being a furniture designer and maker was never a career Anita saw for herself, but it has become a driving force in her life and she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“I never really considered myself handy but after we built a few pieces for ourselves it just felt really right. Even in the beginning, I knew I could learn along the way and I would get there one day if I just kept going. I actually wasn’t scared at all.”

This article originally appeared as part of our Career Changers article in Magazine: Break The Mould for Autumn 2016. Find out more about Magazine here

Magazine Break The Mould Cover

Feature image by Martin Ollman

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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