More Than a Play Mat. A Q+A with TOKI MATS

We chatted with Toki Mats Creator + Founder , Eli Yonas.
She’s the San Francisco based boss lady of @tokimats -a non-toxic padded play mats in gorgeous modern designs that make playtime easy! Eli gives the inside scoop on Toki Mats, motherhood, and more.

{Q} On your website it says ” Our mission was to find the safest materials without compromising on comfort. The foam we use is revolutionary – made from the sap tree, it is completely breathable, has just the right firmness, and is soft enough to make you want to cuddle up with your kids.” How and what was the process like for you to find the safest materials for Toki Mats? – for example material made from a sap tree?

{Eli}This was definitely the toughest – but most important – part of launching Toki. I spent a full YEAR researching manufacturers to find the absolute best materials available. I wouldn’t sell the play mat unless it met all the top needs for a mom: safe, easy to use, comfortable (and of course, stylish!) Ultimately, I found a unique foam that was made from natural latex (tree sap), that is just heaven!
{Q} Apart from Toki Mats, you work full time? (What is your Day-Job?)
Do you want to ever take Toki Mats full time? Also, what is one thing you wish someone would have told you about starting a business?
{Eli} Yes! I have two jobs- I work as a program manager at Facebook full time, and run Toki Mats during off hours (i.e., when I’m supposed to be sleeping). I do want to take Toki full time eventually, but we have a lot of growth to achieve for me to be in that position. I don’t have one thing I wish I would’ve known before starting Toki Mats, but I do wish fellow entrepreneurs, especially women, were more transparent with how they run their businesses behind the scenes. I eventually figured everything out, but it would’ve saved me some late nights 🙂
I’ve learned a ton in my “day jobs” that have set me up for success with Toki- hands down! From marketing, to finance, to sales- every step in my career has enabled me to build this business from scratch. I have BIG goals for both Toki, and my professional career, very excited!

{Q} What is your ultimate dream for your business and is there anything else in the works for Toki Mats (new products?)

{Eli} My ultimate dream is for Toki Mats to be both profitable and growing, to enable me to focus on the fun parts of the business: community, creativity, and strategy. I do have ideas for more products (not sharing just yet!), but they won’t be launched until later this year.

{Q} Between work, kids, business and life – how do you stay true to who you are. What do you do for “me” time…. and how do you juggle it all?
{Eli} Making sure that all of these aspects are a reflection of who I am from the start, means that when I focus on each one, they are a part of me, and not a distraction. I squeeze in “me” time whenever I am in between jobs/kids: carpool, commuting, even bathroom breaks lol. My husband and I split the family / house responsibilities which is a huge help as well. I do sacrifice sleep though, and I need to better at considering sleep “me” time too!
{Q} Why do you think it’s so important to support the small business community? {Q} What is one of your biggest frustrations as a business owner?
{Eli} I absolutely LOVE the small business community. There are some fantastic entrepreneurs, moms especially, that band together and lift each other up. I’m so grateful for the connections I’ve made, and inspired by the talented women business owners! Most of the products created by small businesses are unique, special, and fit a market need. The frustrating part is being heard over the noise of big businesses. Marketing is definitely tough- I want every parent that needs a Toki play mat to be able to discover us, but we have work to do!

{Q} Biggest reward?

{Eli} The customer reviews *insert crying emoji*! Nothing fills my cup as much as a parent who’s life we made easier and more playful.
{Q} What does a typical working day look like for you?
{Eli} Wake up to the morning rush of getting our kids to school, carpooling with my husband (shoutout to my equal partner!), commuting, focused on my day job until evening, commuting again, evening rush of getting our kids fed/bathed/sleep (jk they don’t sleep), then back to the computer!
{Q} What is one thing you couldn’t live with out?
{Eli} Is it nerdy to say my night guard? Just trying to keep it real 🙂

For more information on Toki Mats , you can visit ! Or on Instagram here: @tokimats .

Photography by : Rachel Fox @0utsidetheboxfox 

Location : The FolkandFlora Farm