Karla Tolstoy has been an innovator, motivator and visionary for decades, reaching success in Europe as a CEO in the world of telecommunications. However, where her real gift lies is in helping people reach their own potential and become better versions of themselves. She has mentored dozens of young entrepreneurs, with many matching her own success and becoming CEOs and founders of their own companies. Upon coming home to Canada, she changed her focus to self-improvement and started Tokii, a lifestyle company that includes the iOS app Personality Profile Quizzes and the online store Wearable Therapy and she has her own podcast StandupSpeakUp by Tokii.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I was naïve in thinking it would be easy to start my own business – as I thought I had been so successful in corporate, how hard could running a small business be? But I was very wrong and it was very humbling.
Tell us about your business.
- I have an advocacy-based clothing line and a blog that talks about advocacy issues and educational quizzes about social justice type topics.
- I have a podcast that rates Top 50 in society and culture for USA/Canada/UK/Australia – it is a mix of storytelling and investigative journalism.
- I have a store called LakeLife that raises funds for a region in Canada.
- I have a teen at-risk site to help parents understand teen addiction.
- I volunteer with street youth.
- I do dog therapy.
- I am an advisor for the Entrepreneurship Board at a University Ryerson in Toronto.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
YES! We are collaborating with LadyBossBlogger where you have a chance to WIN A PAIR OF YOGA PANTS advocating female empowerment! Rules on how to win below.
- Share the photo below on Facebook and TAG & LIKE @wearabletherapy.
- HASHTAG #WinYogaPants
- The winner to be drawn June 11th and announced on the @LadyBossBlogger Facebook page.
You can also get 10% off everything on our shop with the coupon code: LADYBOSSBLOGGER10%OFF
It is not updated as I am not sure who would even create that? As I did not know even know it existed until someone sent it to me!
Where is your business based?
Toronto, Canada but my team works remotely.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
- I just started with a design that inspired me and tested how it looked on shirts.
- For my podcast, I just did an interview from my kitchen on Skype and then posted it (it sounds pretty amateur) but I just started! I do not think too much about it or I would get overwhelmed.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Unfortunately networking works best, but I hate networking.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I used to be very brand centric and I was famous for my branding ability and knowledge, but as my small business continued to grow and evolve, I had to let go of that level of control so that we could grow as fast as we were growing – organically. That was hard for me because a lot of people see me as “Brand Maverick” and yet my own brand (Tokii) is not as clean as it should be.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I am not sure I have overcome it yet, it still plagues me as my business is very pioneering so with that comes confusion sometimes.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Tequila, my 4 dogs and my son. My son is my business partner so he motivates me to keep going, he is only 15 but he is very market savvy.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I just try to keep it authentic and real and make sure we are making an impact. This year we are doing 100 Acts of Kindness and we are at about 55 right now. We do a lot more than sell clothes, we work with a lot of different groups to help make changes.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Always ask “Why”?
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Do not take yourself too seriously! No matter how bad you fail, it may lead you to your bigger purpose. Failure isn’t meant to be an end game, rather use it to learn your purpose and get better at what you do. Every success or failure is part of your ultimate success, so enjoy the journey!
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Skype – I could not run my business without SKYPE.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Assuming I read… hmm… I am more of TV binger. I love Sneaky Pete and WentWorth – and all shows British.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I need to work on product distribution and gets sales representatives onboard, which is another new challenge for me as in my old life I managed 300 sales people and it was easier… my own business a different story.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- My podcast is growing in popularity and also my focus so I am looking how to expand it, do more investigative stories and work with more trained journalists – so that is in the works.
- My clothing line helps create more brand awareness and forces me to network more.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Online Shop WT by Tokii
Blog Stand Up Speak Up
Podcast StandUp SpeakUp by Tokii
Teen Addiction Organization Tokii Teens at Risk Program
Online Shop LakeLife Shops