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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane-based startup Tokki makes reusable gift bags with a digital twist

Spokane startup Tokki has developed a reusable gift bag that comes with a digital greeting card.  (Photo courtesy of Tokki)

A Spokane startup is gaining national attention for its eco-friendly gift bags with a digital twist.

Tokki has developed reusable gift bags that come with a QR greeting card, allowing recipients to scan a digital code to view personalized video and photo messages.

The company’s gift bags, made with material sourced from recycled plastic water bottles, was mentioned on a Today show shopping segment that aired last month.

“When you are ready to regift, you can press a button and upload a new card,” said Taylor Hoit, Tokki cofounder and chief operating officer. “We also have super-fun features like a map to see where it has traveled. We call it the ‘sisterhood of the traveling gift wrap.’ ”

Hoit, a Spokane native, launched Tokki with veteran entrepreneur Jane Park, who cofounded former Seattle-based beauty brand Julep. Hoit previously worked alongside Park at Julep as manager of its software engineering team.

The idea for Tokki was sparked in 2019 when Park was staring at piles of gift wrap in her living room after the holiday season, wondering what she was going to do with all of it.

She did a Google search and found that most gift wrap is not recyclable and she remembered how her grandmother in Korea used to wrap gifts in reusable squares of silk. That’s when the idea for the company was born.

Tokki (pronounced toe-key) is Korean for rabbit. The company hopes its gift bags will “hop” around the world between friends and family members.

Tokki launched its reusable gift bags in June after three years and several iterations of the product. The company sold 25,000 bags in the first month and has wholesale accounts with more than 280 retailers.

The bags, sold in medium, large and wine bottle-size, retail for between $12 to $16 each. Each bag has a snap-close top that eliminates a need for tissue paper, Hoit said.

The company has filed 10 intellectual property patents for its digital QR greeting card in the U.S, Europe, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Hoit began shipping orders for the bags from her home on the South Hill. The company opened its headquarters and fulfillment center in June 2021 at the Riverwalk building in Spokane’s University District.

Some of Tokki’s gift bags feature designs by Spokane artist Corinna Ren, who owns PNW Dream, a store that features handmade, nature-inspired apparel, art prints and stickers. PNW Dream is selling some of Tokki’s gift bags from its River Park Square storefront, Hoit said.

Tokki is looking to tap into the gift-wrap and greeting-card industry, which is a $35 billion market, according to Delawared-based Verified Market Research.

“It’s an industry that hasn’t been changed in forever,” Hoit said. “There has been no innovation, and people are excited to have something that’s new in that category.”

The company is seeing an increase in customer demand for its reusable bags as families seek a sustainable option to exchange gifts for the holidays, graduations and birthdays, Hoit said.

“We are currently in negotiations with a big-box retailer for an exclusive line for them next year,” Hoit said. “In general, a lot of businesses are looking to carry brands that are more sustainable and better for the planet.”

Tokki currently has eight employees, with plans to hire more in the near future to meet anticipated growth, Hoit said.

Last month, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine, an equity fundraising platform that allows people to invest in startups for as little as $100. To date, Tokki has raised $100,000 from more than 100 investors on StartEngine, Hoit said.

Tokki has been primarily self-funded, but it might consider pursuing other avenues of venture capital backing from investors who share the same goals and mission of the company, Hoit said.

In addition to potentially landing its products in a big-box retailer, Tokki is aiming to expand its reach to more than 300 stores in the near future, Hoit said.

“We want to be the most value-driven, memorable and sustainable product in the gift wrap aisle,” Hoit said.