Reinventing the gifting experience: Tokki is a social and sustainable gift wrap company founded by CEO Jane Hyo-Sung Park along with Taylor Ann Hoit, who serves as the CTO and COO. The two achieved success before coming together on their previous startup, Julep Beauty, which they successfully exited to Warburg Pincus.
- Park previously served as an executive at Starbucks and a leader at the Boston Consulting Group. She was also the founding director of the CEO Forum for Education and Technology with others like Steve Jobs and Eckhard Pfeiffer.
- Hoit is a technology leader with a reputation for creating engaging user experiences for countless brands. Her creativity and experience come together to solve problems, create innovative features, and keep things running smoothly.
- Their previous startup, Julep Beauty, is now distributed nationally and stands out as a disruptor in the beauty space. Personalization and a customer-first attitude were present at Julep and have been carried through to Tokki.
Tokki’s beginnings: Few people know how bad gift wrap is for the environment, but the truth is that most of it cannot be recycled. Because of that, more than four million tons of single-use gift wrap are transported to landfills every year, something Park discovered and wanted to change.
“Tokki embodies my belief that we can all do better each day,” said Park, who started her journey to prevent climate change starting with the easy things like using sheets of laundry detergent and biodegradable garbage bags.
Park took inspiration from her grandmother in Korea, who used reusable squares of silk to wrap gifts. It made her wonder how she could transform the gifting experience with today’s digital technology. Thus came Tokki, which translates to “rabbit” in Korean, a gift wrap alternative that can “hop” from friend to friend and spread joy.
Years of development: “We started out with a square of cloth and a magnetic band with the QR card that could be used to cinch the bag together,” said Park. However, she quickly found that the approach strayed too far from the traditional gift-wrapping experience of most Americans. Bags were also created out of cloth, which proved expensive and had a large carbon footprint. It wasn’t until they made bags out of recycled water bottles that things clicked.
The digital experience also evolved, going from a simple card to an entire journey showing a map of where the Tokki has traveled and a waste counter to show how much waste has been saved. Moreover, that is only the beginning of what Tokki and its founders have in store.
Tokki versus the competition: Sustainability is the most obvious difference from traditional, single-use alternatives, but Tokki also seeks to create a more meaningful gifting experience. Users do not need an app to enjoy the social experience and can access an online album containing their digital cards while sending the physical bag to the next person.
Personalization: After scanning the QR code, users are walked through adding unique media, such as a photo, video, or GIF. The personalized message then pops up when the recipient scans the code without the need for an account or app. It allows as much customization or uniqueness as you can imagine, from videos of the grandkids to a popular meme. Moreover, more personalized cards can be uploaded over and over and without any additional cost.
Fundraising: Tokki remained self-funded until recently, when it decided to start raising money through crowdfunding. Park explained why Tokki chose to crowdfund, saying, “We chose crowdfunding because, as a consumer brand, we were excited to invite our customers into our company as co-owners. We are also sold in over 270 independent boutiques, and many of the owners are passionate about Tokki, are helping us build our brand awareness, and wanted to invest.”
- Funding is still underway, but the startup plans to use the money raised to fuel growth.
- Currently, Tokki is available in 270 independent stores across the country.
Making a difference: The market for gift wrap and greeting cards is considerable, and in 2020, it was worth $35 billion. Tokki looks to provide innovation that is sorely lacking, all while creating meaningful connections with and between customers. “it’s the power of connection that fuels me. To me, that’s what grit is all about,” said Park, and we certainly love grit around here.