A Special Interview for Women's DayWords by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Tokki
Happy International Women’s Day! This day provides a chance to recognize and support the strong women who make this world go 'round.
To celebrate, Seattle-based BIPOC and female-owned business, Tokki, is featuring a series of candles called the “Women Who Light Us Up” collection honoring inspirational women such as Madame Vice President Kamala Harris, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart and Virginia Wolfe, with ten percent of profits benefitting Girl Up. We love Tokki because it offers an opportunity to “show up” with a thoughtful thank you from afar – making it the perfect pre-wedding gift for bridesmaids or the bride, especially during these times! Tokki also curates gift sets filled with products that are built-to-last from brands that are eco-friendly, woman-owned, minority-owned, or small. These gift sets are wrapped in a reusable Tokki gift bag of your choice, customized with one of our unique gifting candles, and personalized with a digital gift card message.
After learning more about Tokki and how they planned to celebrate International Women's Day, we wanted to meet the incredible woman who founded and runs such a unique business, Jane Park. Park, the CEO and Founder of Tokki, is a seasoned entrepreneur by trade, a lawyer by education and a social and political advocate by heart. As a nationally recognized expert in consumer brand building, social commerce, and entrepreneurship – Jane regularly speaks at conferences and on television discussing resilience training, grieving and growth, and the work it takes to turn failures into lessons. Who better to interview for this special day than this incredible thought leader? So, without further ado, here is our chat with the fabulous Jane Park.
Q: Who were your women role models growing up?
A: We immigrated from Korea to Canada when I was four, and I started kindergarten without speaking English and everyone around me looked so different. So finding an external role model was hard. Luckily I had a brilliant role model in my Mom! She believes in agency, and has a huge growth mindset, and works incredibly hard no matter what. Just last year she was learning a new instrument, and she won a writing award even though she calls herself a “baby writer” because she started when she was 75. Nothing I do will ever be as hard as what my parents had to do establishing a new life in a new country, away from all their friends and family. Their first business in Canada was a convenience store – where they worked seven days a week, more than twelve hours a day. Every day except Christmas and New Years. And still, we found ways to laugh together and they always made sure I had access to all the books I wanted.
Q: Many, if not most, of our readers are in the process of wedding planning. It can often be difficult for brides to speak their minds during the planning process for fear of being judged or labeled as a "bridezilla." Being a founder and CEO, your job requires you to speak your mind – so, what would be your advice for these future brides?
A: Well, I’m someone who asked my husband to marry me, so I have a unique view of the wedding experience! In general, in planning a wedding or anything else in life, it’s actually a kind thing to do to be clear and transparent about what you want. While being a bride doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to be rude, it’s actually worse for vendors when you try to bottle up your preferences in an attempt to be the “chill” bride, then your wishes explode at inopportune moments. Speaking up early is often the most considerate way to work with people. But equally, a wedding is a great place to practice letting go of perfection! These are both skills that come in handy for entrepreneurship.
Q: Tokki curates gifts that support local, women-owned, or eco-friendly businesses. What led you to want to help these types of businesses?
A: One of the things I love best about starting my own business is that there are so many opportunities to make an impact. Even though the dollars I spend are relatively minuscule compared to the large Fortune 100 companies I’ve worked with in my past, I still love the opportunity to spend them for maximum impact. Supporting businesses that share our values is a huge joy. If we can shine a light on companies we admire, that makes everything we do more meaningful. We all have power every time we pull out our wallets. Brides can do this too – look for women-owned, ethical companies to work with! As an entrepreneur, I also always ask the vendors I hire – whether lawyers, accountants, or creative agencies, “How many women do you have in your leadership?” I recently bought a car and I asked every dealership I went into, “How many women sales reps do you have?” You don’t have to be in a boardroom to make a difference! Asking the right questions and spending your money thoughtfully can have a huge impact.
Q: Why did you choose Girl Up to help fundraise for?
A: I love the way this United Nations-supported effort works to create opportunities for girls in communities around the world in education, politics, and in the economy. It’s true that when girls rise, we all rise. In so many communities, girls are still excluded from schooling because they start working as children to carry water, or take care of other basic needs. The issue of gender inequality is complex and takes different forms in different places in the world. Girl Up builds community and a common thread to empower girls everywhere.
Q: Weddings are filled with gift-giving, from the engagement to the wedding and after. What do you feel is the most important part of gift-giving?
A: The best gifts make someone feel “seen”. Gifting is such a tremendously powerful “love language.” I think the best part of a gift is the “why” – I got this for you because… it reminded me of that night we sang karaoke in Hawaii. Or the time we went backpacking. I got this for you because I want to use it together to cook our next meal. Or because I know you are obsessed with hot sauce. I love gifts where I get to see the person’s face and hear their laughter every time I look at it.
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