In The Media

Kiitos featured on the Funkis website

We are thrilled to share with you this post from funkis.com, featuring our beautiful store!

funkis have many amazing stockists dotted around Australia and we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce a few of them to you. First up is Maria Malakellis, the fabulous director of Kiitos - Scandinavian-inspired stores in the Victorian coastal towns of Barwon Heads and Torquay

1. There are so many great stories behind Kiitos living by Design – both you & the space itself lived such interesting lives prior to opening the doors in 2009. Can you tell us a little about what led you to launch this gorgeous mecca of Scandinavian design?

In a nutshell I launched Kiitos because I was desperately unemployed, but the seed for opening a Scandinavian-inspired store was sown way back in 2003 when I met my gorgeous friend Josie who owns a similar store in Manhattan NY and then traveled to Finland to meet with Marimekko.

2. The space that houses the Barwon Heads store had previous incarnations as a mechanics garage, pinball parlour and Greek restaurant. What were the challenges & lures to choosing this space and Barwon Heads in particular?

It is true the garage space has had many incarnations. I chose this space because my family owns the premises and my father who is not a man to mince his words told me in his heavy Greek accent "don't be gutless go do something in Barwon Heads". It was all the encouragement I needed; remember I was very unemployed and with no formal education my choices were limited. I knew that I loved good design and interacting with people, but just so you know I almost opened a cup cake shop in that space then I thought you cray cray girl you've always wanted to sell Marimekko.... the rest is kind of history now. As for the space it presented no special challenges I knew instinctively the moment I walked in and opened the original bi fold doors that the space would look great. We have an amazing North aspect so plenty of sunlight. It took 25 days to renovate and set up the store as I wanted to take advantage of Christmas and Summer trade. It was quite an adventure let me tell you, I was sleeping on a blow up mattress on the floor out the back, working around the clock. Thankfully there are shower facilities onsite!

3. The mantra 'Living by Design' is something you adhere to strongly in terms of what is sold in-store. I am assuming you have a fantastically decorated & equipped home?

Yes I do believe we need to live by design and make careful decisions on what we spend our money on. I have never been a fan of mindless consumerism (unless it involves travel) I have always purchased things that will last the distance, are beautiful and timeless. My home is quite minimal and I'm very happy to report that I have purchased one set of couches in my adult life that have been re-covered several times.

4. How has your range of products, and brands grown over the years?

I laugh when I remember my first ever trade fair, there I was trying to convince agents and wholesalers; "hey I'm Maria and Ive opened a shop in Barwon Heads, in an old service station and would like to stock your products" and they, would look at me dubiously! Thankfully after the first year Kiitos started to be noticed and I slowly created some trust with my chosen suppliers and then all the good brands started to contact me which was great as I got to choose what I wanted to represent and promote at Kiitos. To be frank I haven't even attended the last two major gift fairs.

5. Kiitos means thank you in Finnish – two stores later (you opened a Torquay location in 2014) the choice of name must ring even more true?

Kiitos does indeed mean thank you, in Finnish and I cannot express how grateful I am for everything. Every day at Kiitos is a joy. I love what I do and don"t consider it to be work. I adore the store, the stock is so uplifting and beautiful. This region is truly amazing but above all what for fills me the most is the interactions and friendships I have with people, the team of girls who help me run the stores, the customers who come to the stores, the reps, the designers, the creative peeps and wholesalers I have met all over the world. I say Kiitos to them all.

6. There has been a real resurgence of Scandinavian design in Australia– why do you think it seems to fit so well into the Australian way of life?

I am no great expert but perhaps it simply just slots in nicely with our laid back, relaxed attitudes and way of life. I know for certain that it works so well in my customers beach homes.

7. You've recently launched a gorgeous new website, and always seem to be so busy! Anything exciting you're working on now?

Thank you we are chuffed at our new website, and yes as much as I tell myself to slow down its nigh on impossible. My over active brain just cant stop thinking, imagining. I find it impossible to go on a holiday and not think what can I find for the Kiitos collection. There is nothing particularly I'm working on at the moment, but that's not to say something won't present itself tomorrow!

kiitos living by design: stocking funkis clogs and more



Kiitos featured in The West Australian newspaper


Article: A foodie road trip near Melbourne, The West Australian newspaper.

“Every day in Barwon Heads is a good day,” Maria Malakellis declares as we stand outside her lifestyle store, Kiitos Living by Design, in the seaside town made famous by its starring role in the television series SeaChange. 

A supremely elegant dynamo in a printed Marimekko dress, Maria started Kiitos more than five years ago in Barwon Heads, and now has a second store in nearby Torquay. They’re both a short drive from Geelong, where I woke this morning, in a suite as big as a ballroom at the Mercure, for our second day road-tripping around the Bellarine Peninsula.

Maria’s family is of Greek extraction and has a long history of running small businesses in Barwon Heads. She grew up down the road in the family fish-and-chip shop, and runs Kiitos (Finnish for “thank you”) from the former petrol station where she stands today, surrounded by her carefully curated selection of predominantly Scandinavian homewares, gifts, clothing, accessories and fabrics. “Colour’s always been my thing — clean lines, simplicity,” she says. 

Marimekko is a big brand for Kiitos — Maria stocks its clothing, fabrics and homewares — but other favourites in the store include the retro lifestyle brand Orla Kiely, SaltWater Sandals, Funkis clogs, Muuto lighting and Otto & Spike, a Melbourne label which uses surplus wool to produce knitted socks and scarves in Brunswick.

You can read the full article online here.

Kiitos in Home Beautiful magazine

From the June 2015 issue of Home Beautiful magazine: "The shopping strip stretches down one street, making browsing in Barwon Heads a breeze."

Feature on Kiitos: 'For true lovers of Scandinavian design, Kiitos has all bases covered. Located inside an iconic former service station, it's now a vision of designer style, showcasing the likes of Muuto and Marimekko. You might walk away with a small piece of furniture, accessories, ceramics, a new frock - or even fabric to make your own!"

Must-have: Marimekko 'Merivuokko' porcelain teapot, $115.

Open: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm.

Visit: Corner Bridge Road and Hitchcock Avenue, Barwon Heads.

(03) 5254 1835."

Pages 71 & 72.

Kiitos featured on Enterprise Geelong's Facebook page!

Enterpise Geelong's Business In The Spotlight...

Trust me when i say, there is no more stylish lifestyle store than the beautiful Kiitos Living by Design - found in beautiful Barwon Heads!

Established in Dec 2009... Kiitos is a design, lifestyle store and our products are all very carefully selected. They only sell products that have a design focus, are beautiful, dateless are long lasting and will add joy to everyday living.

Owner, Maria is a big fan of simplicity in design and believes that humans are visual and tactile beings and good design is a requirement for a happy life .

The team at Kiitos are encouraged to create Friendships/ relationships with customers - as they strongly believe that aside from the visual experience and and quirkiness of our location (a converted former service station) a friendly chat and a willingness to serve without being pushy is what makes shopping at Kiitos an uplifting memorable experience.

Kiitos are a perfect example of local business doing social media marketing well - building a loyal following through their vibrant, beautiful posts. Check them out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Get in touch with Kiitos...
P: 03 52541835
E: gifts@kiitos.com.au
W: www.kiitos.com.au
Instagram: @kiitoslivingbydesign

The Weekend Notebook: Stores To Explore #10 – Kiitos Living By Design, Barwon Heads, Victoria (by The Home Style Files)

Written by Domenica

Aside from being a beautiful coastal location, Barwon Heads in Victoria is home to Kiitos Living By Design – www.kiitos.com.au – a stunning designer homeware, gift, fashion, and textile gallery store.

Kiitos selects stock from around the world based on ‘aesthetic beauty, design merit, recognition and functionality. Their list of brands is nothing short of amazing and includes designer brands such as:  Acapulco Chairs, Architectmade, Alessi, Basil Bangs, Blunt Umbrellas, Design House Stockholm, Eva Solo, Fink & Co, Funkis Clogs, Helgo, Holme Gaard, Iittala, Marrimekko Make Me Iconic, Marc Pascal, Menu, Muuto, Oclock Watches, Playsam, Saltwater Sandals, Skagen Clocks, Suck UK and Toywatch.

The restored setting, high ceilings and white walls and floors make the perfect setting for Kiitos’ vibrant wares. In particular I love their range of Marrimekko fabric and homewares. Renowned for their original prints, Finnish company Marrimekko has developed a reputation for being a leader in the textile industry. Their kitchenware is so bold and colourful and sure to add a sense of renewed energy to any kitchen needing a little lift.

A visit to scenic Barwon Heads to check Kiitos Living By Design out in person would be a perfect weekend outing for those living in Victoria, but thanks to their online store you can shop from the comfort of your home 24/7 no matter where in Australia you live.


Read the full story here.

KIITOS living by design (by Taunton & Co)

When searching for a career, people always offer the advise to find what you love to do or are passionate about and turn it into a job. Maria Malakellis, founder and owner of Kiitos in Barwon Heads has certainly made a success of her passion for beautiful design and all things marimekko. Maria was unemployed and at a loss of what to do when she realized the potential of an unused and unrenovated section of an old service station. One month later the bare shell was transformed into a beautiful and inspiring shop with a lovely, lively and passionate Maria at the counter. Maria stocks a fabulous selection of products that she would be proud to have in her own home. Products must have function, design merit,  be made ethically and to last and of course be beautiful. It is a wonderful shop that I just didn’t want to leave and look forward to visiting again to see what fantastic new products she has in store for us!


Read the full post here.

KIITOS – Living by design (by Tales of Ezra blog)

Last month, what I thought would be a quick stop off in Barwon Heads turned out to be an enjoyable and lengthy few hours of window shopping and browsing. Never did I expect to stumble across such an array of good looking cafes, and well put together homeware/furniture stores in this boutique strip of shops! Being from Sydney I am constantly surprised by the towns surrounding Victoria and what this state has to offer…. you can also read about ‘Rigby’s Homewares’ , a store I was intrigued by in the B.Heads .. BUT TODAY I wanted to introduce another favorite find of mine ‘KIITOS’  translated – ‘THANK YOU’ In finnish.

I was drawn to this store immediately by my curiosity, along with a fluorescent yellow sign saying ‘hello’ and a flock of people scouring the space. Getting closer to ‘KIITOS‘, this converted petrol station started beaming with colour…and….yesss  marimekko prints, muuto shelving, design house stockholm (I have serious love for this brand), alessi, aesop… just to name a few… colour and wild prints from every corner.. I had hit a jackpot.

Not expecting this field trip would turn in to such exciting content for my blog I grabbed my camera and started clicking away. Owner Maria Malakellis, was not only extremely helpful but also incredibly enthusiastic about her store. A charismatic and passionate lover of design.. and believe it or not has realistic dreams for how she can make gorgeous Kiitos into something more than just a store. In between our conversation, Maria was single handedly dealing and interacting with her customers with a grace and charisma that made me want to stay and watch her all day long!

The best thing, is that Kiitos is ONLINE, however If it were up to me I would try and persuade all of you to make a visit to her store, you certainly won’t regret it!


Shop 2 5-7 Bridge Rd
Barwon Heads   3223 Victoria

03 5254 1835

Business Hours
Open Daily- 10am to 5.30pm

Read the full post here.

Shop: Kiitos - Living By Design with Maria Malakellis (by The Geelong Freelancer)

It's rare when a shop and it's owner are so entwined you can't separate the two. Kiitos - Living By Design owner Maria Malakellis chatted to The Geelong Freelancer about her passion for timeless design and creating a Barwon Heads shopping experience never to be forgotten.

As they say, out of hardship springs opportunity.

In 2008 Maria Malakellis was living in Melbourne and jobless, having been made redundant from her real estate sales job at Melbourne Property Developer. She soon realised her new-found freedom opened up the perfect opportunity to return to her childhood town of Barwon Heads and bring a personal dream to life.

"I've always had an eye for design and can remember mentally rearranging people's homes as a kid," Maria explains. "I instinctively know good form and function when I see it - I adore clean lines and shapes. It was the right time to turn that passion into a business."

Maria had travelled to Finland in 2004 to meet with lifestyle brand Marimekko with a view to opening a concept store for them in Melbourne. Her plans of operating a store focusing on timeless Scandinavian design didn't eventuate until the groundwork for Kiitos began in 2009.

"I wanted to call my shop Kiitos because I believe in gratitude and the word means thank you in Finnish. Kiitos reminds me to be grateful and thankful for everything, including the good and the so called bad. If I hadn't been made redundant then life could have been very different."

A dilapidated mechanics garage in the centre of Barwon Heads presented a unique industrial space to allow Maria's products to shine in a white minimalist environment. Entering Kiitos is like walking into a high-end homewares store in any Scandinavian country. The old garage has been painted classic monochrome and completely opened up to offer customers a slick relaxed shopping experience. You may feel like you're in Finland, but the gentle breeze ruffling Marimekko dresses sings of Summer days relaxing by the Barwon river.

"When we first opened, Kiitos quickly became known as the garage shop that sells Marimekko. Marimekko is a famous Finnish textiles company that started in the 1950s, manufacturing bright and bold textiles and fashion. When retro became popular in recent years Marimekko enjoyed a resurgence and I wanted to bring those designs to Australia. The fact that Marimekko is so loud and colorful helped to give Kiitos it's personality, but we have so many other brands that give Kiitos it's unique edge, too."

Kiittos largely pays homage to Scandinavian design, stocking several well-known brands including iittala, Archtitectmade and Muuto. In recent years Maria has expanded her wares generously, supporting worldwide brands she considers to be outstanding in design or ethics. America's Salt Water sandals and Australia's iconic skin, hair and body care brand Aesop now have their own special place in the Kiitos store.

"I only sell products I believe in or would use myself," Maria continues. "I have confidence in the products I sell and only choose them if I think they are a good fit for the Kiitos 'living by design' mantra."

Maria has carefully curated all products available at Kiitos, with the range encompassing homewares, textiles, glassware, apparel, personal care and the odd piece of kitsch. You can decorate an entire bathroom, living room or kitchen (sans appliances) with Kiitos items or walk out with new jewellery on your decolletage, fabulous Karen Walker sunglasses reflecting Summer rays or sweet toys to brighten a little ones day. There is lighting to highlight your Marimekko wall art and socks from Sweden to put on after you've removed your Toms shoes.

When asked about her favourite product Maria laughs and immediately opens her arms to envelope her entire store.

"Where to start?" she says. "My home and life are one big Kiitos! My home is full of Kiitos products. I wear Marimekko clothing, Salt Water sandals, Funkis clogs. I use Aesop products  and dine off Marimekko ceramics. I love my gorgeous iittala wine glasses. The lights I have in my home are Muuto and I sleep under a Marimekko doona cover, just for a small example."

Patrons of Kiitos travel from far-and-wide to admire and purchase and also to enjoy Maria's knowledgeable warm-hearted service. Many of her clientele have a mutual appreciation for fine design and a love of interior decoration and will stay after purchasing to chat about the latest products to arrive at Kiitos.

"My greatest joy and satisfaction is the wonderful relationships I build with customers who then become friends. I like to think these relationships are built on trust as I never sell someone something if it doesn't suit them or truly wanted...ever."

The popularity of Kiitos continues to grow five years after opening. A new Torquay store was launched earlier this year and has proven just as popular as the Barwon Heads location. Not only does Maria welcome thousands of people through the Kiitos doors each year, but many worldwide brands have heard of the unique Barwon Heads store and are keen to have their products included in her select range.

Maria was overjoyed to announce this week that Australian bag manufacturer Crumpler will be joining Kiitos at Barwon Heads shortly.

"Crumpler will have a shop-in-shop at Kiitos and the space will reflect their own brand," she says. "It's a thrill and an honour for Kiitos to be hand-picked to be one of just a handful of specialist independent stores Australia-wide Crumpler feels reflects their own design ethics and standards."

As Spring brings on sunny days you will usually find Maria outside her store, carefully tending to her displays under the original petrol canopy or chatting amiably to both customer and friend alike.

"I love my work - in fact, I don't even call it work as I am constantly inspired and do it with love and joy. I'm the luckiest girl alive when I can stand outside in the sun and watch customers approach the store. In fact, if you drive through Barwon Heads after 5.30pm you may find me loitering on the Kiitos corner practicing mindfulness and simply being thankful long after the store should have closed."

Location: 5-7 Bridge Road, Barwon Heads and 30 Bell St, Torquay
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5pm
Website: www.kiitos.com.au
Email: info@kiitos.com.au
Telephone: 03 5254 1835 (Barwon Heads)

Read the full post here.

Kiitos – The dream destination! (by Oh! Hello Geelong blog)

It’s confession time. Oh! Hello Geelong absolutely loves travel, whether it’s a mini-break to Tokyo or island hopping in Thailand, the world is our oyster! Without doubt, one of our favourite travel activities is burrowing through shops, markets, galleries, and nooks and crannies in the search for extra special designer goods that we can’t find at home. So for Oh! Hello Geelong it was a scene of  joyous celebration when we discovered the wonderful world of Kiitos in Barwon Heads! Not only did we find an abundance of perfectly designed homewares, textiles, ceramics and accessories (many by some of our fav Scandinavian design geniuses) but the little car ride down the Bellerine highway and Kiitos itself almost created the illusion of being abroad on a European holiday!

And your pilot today is the lovely Maria…

Kiitos owner and founder Maria Malakellis is a woman who has a wonderful ability to inspire, to make you laugh and to make you feel pretty fantastic! Maria is also a woman with passion and drive that you can’t learn or buy, but just comes naturally. So it’s no surprise, with Maria at the helm, that Kiitos is the success it is today.

Maria’s relationship with Barwon Heads and business began as a little lass growing up in the area and working for her parents after school, where she developed a keen eye for display and an interest in good, well considered design. After having three children and making the decision to move away from the family business, Maria worked for some time in real estate only to find that she needed to do something of her own that was more in line with her passions. So after a gentle nudge in the right direction from a friend, Maria made the decision in 2009 to return to her old stomping ground and convert an old retro-style Shell garage at the end of Barwon Heads’ main street into a shop that would bring together some of the world’s best design houses and emerging Australian designers. And the result of course is Kiitos (which means thank you in Finnish – perfect!!!)

Flying first class….

Maria has a genuine love for great design and high quality products and is especially drawn to Scandinavian products, especially those from Finland (hence the shop name!). Kiitos houses a stunning hand-picked collection of super stylish and innovative homewares, apparel,  textiles, ceramics, gifts and accessories from Scandinavian designers and other international and local designers who produce the highest quality products. Kiitos’ high ceilings and stark white walls provide the perfect canvas for the store’s uber colourful products to shine. The textiles, ceramics, homewares, clothing and accessories made by iconic Finnish brand Marimekko add splashes of bold colour and pattern to the walls and shelves, while the famous Acapulco Chairs (all the way from Mexico), iittala glassware and the super trendy Baggu bags and Basil Bangs beach umbrellas add pops of vibrant fun to the shop floor. Meanwhile, Kiitos brings it all back down to earth with ranges including Architect Made Vedel birdsAesop skin care and wooden boards by Nel Lusso.

Apart from those already mentioned,  other fab products include Chilewich table mats, Design House Stockholm’s fab sculptural lights, ceramics and doily bike baskets which are oh so cool (laura owns one – sooo pretty), Eva Solo homewares, Mattias Stahlblom Pendant Lamps, Jurgen Bags. Oh and we also loooove the range of SaltWater sandals and Funkis shoes.

Read the full post here.

The Changing Face of Bell Street, Torquay (by Torquay Links Property)

Have you taken  stroll down Bell Street, Torquay, Australia lately?

If not, you’ll be in for a little surprise!

No longer will you find just fish ‘n chips shops and cafes that cater for the influx of holiday makers… there has been a steady arrival of homewares and fashion labels to this Torquay main street.

It started with the much talked about arrival of Kiitos Living by Design.

Kiitos Living by Design, was established by Maria Malakellis, in December 2009, and is located in the former, retro style garage on Bridge Rd, Barwon Heads, Victoria. Malakellis and her family have a long history in Barwon Heads, having owned a  business in the town in the mid 1970’s until the early 80’s.

The opportunity to return to Barwon Heads, and convert, what was a neglected, but prominent site in the town was a challenge she could not resist.

The result is a bright designer homewares, gift, fashion, and textile gallery store. High ceilings, stark white walls and floor provide a perfect backdrop to showcase products from some of the world’s best known and loved design houses.

Selection of stock is based on the following criteria – aesthetic beauty, design merit, recognition and functunality. At Kiitos living by design they simply adore designer homeware products that not only bring joy to everyday living but will, in time, become much loved and treasured family keepsakes.

Those not familiar with the well-known designer homewares store from Barwon Heads, its arrival in Torquay has saved many Surf Coast locals in both time and petrol not having to commute to Barwon Heads for their regular fix! Filled with bright designer homewares, gifts, fashion, and a brilliant textile gallery (Marimekko). It’s definitely worth a visit to their new Surf Coast location. But be warned, you won’t walk out empty handed!

Read the full post here.

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