Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Madi Greyson and Kei Lowes, Owners of Toki Doki, located in Tofino, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Toki Doki is a new Japanese street food spot on Tofino's Industrial Way. A casual take-out-only space based out of an 80's airstream and located next to our friends at the Tofino Brewery. We specialize in Osaka-style Okonomiyaki and 'fill your belly' kind of food.
Our customers range from the 2000 residents that live here in Tofino to the over 600,000 annual visitors that come to this area to experience what makes Clayoquot Sound so special. It's always a mix of foodies, hungry beer drinkers, and okonomiyaki lovers!
Tell us about yourself
We met while working at a beloved local ramen shop here in Tofino (which has since closed), and very quickly, we became partners at work, running the restaurant together and in life (we even got married this past February 2023!). I (Madi) have been working in the food industry for 7+ years, fell in love with the fast-paced energy, having every day be something different, and learning how to get really good at Tetris while fitting every reservation in that night, haha!
While Kei has been working in the industry for a similar amount of time, and what keeps him going every day is getting to watch people experience new and amazing food for the first time. What got us started on Toki Doki was the love for creating, whether that be recipes or brands. Kei and I had a vision, and our passions complemented each other so well.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment would be our dedication to becoming a certified Living Wage employer. Meaning all of our staff are paid the calculated 'Living Wage' for our region. It was really important to us as employers to make sure we are supporting our staff as much as possible, paying a livable wage and providing benefits I believe are just the bare minimum that we can start with!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Oh gosh, one of the hardest parts of being a business owner would be learning to turn work mode off. Living in a small community, you get known for your work, and that becomes who you are. It's hard to go anywhere without being asked about work, and it's hard to put work down with your phone always being next to you, and it's hard to remember that it's very important to find little things that help you turn work off every now and then.
Whether that's leaving your phone at home while you are out on a dog walk, turning your notifications off when dinner hour comes around, or making sure to pre-plan short trips so that you force yourself to take time off. It's so good for your mental health!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Listen to the above advice! Make sure to take time for yourself and your loved ones.
- When starting out, it feels like it has to be perfect on day one of the launch. It doesn't, everything will come with time, and chances are you will be the only one that notices that tiny flaw that you are fixated on!
- Ask for help! Your community is full of talented, smart, and caring people. Seek those people out, and chances are they have been where you are and have good intel.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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