This Woman is Diversifying Stock Photography with TONL

 Karek Okonkwo, founder of TONL, Inc's 30 under 30
Image: Alexis Mera

Karen Okonkwo is a social entrepreneur who owns various businesses in the event planning and online business realm. Recently honored on
Inc’s 30 Under 30 List, she is committed to serving her community, and she does that through a lot of philanthropic ventures.

Most notably is her reoccurring brunch called Building Bridges Brunch where she brings women together to help them uncover their deepest wants and desires while also ‘building a bridge’ by helping uplift other women toward their goals. Karen is passionate about diversity and co-founded a stock photography company called TONL where she helps to showcase what the world really looks like.  

I met Karen through my creative passion project All Natural Project. Initially inspired by her company TONL and their mission to diversify stock photography I reached out to see if she'd like to be featured. After meeting (on my roof) in Seattle to snap a few portraits of Karen, I was even more impressed by all that she does. So many entrepreneurs have side hustles and keep their hands in many projects at once. It's something I learned to do after burning out while running my brand, Alexis Mera. I'm happy to be back, and in a new way. Alexis Mera is now a clothing brand AND a platform that celebrates women through natural light photography, honest words, and custom t-shirt designs in partnership with trailblazing ladies. More on my rebrand here.


Read on below to learn more about Karen Okonkwo and how she measures success.


Alexis Mera: How long have you been in business?

Karen Okonkwo: Six years.

AM: What one thing has come as the biggest surprise during your entrepreneurial journey?

KO: Early on in entrepreneurship I was surprised how partnerships can fizzle out. You would think that the same excitement and energy when you first started would remain, but things change.

AM: How do you stay inspired?

KO: I center myself on my "Why" which is to live a life of charity — giving back to others.

AM: How do you celebrate the small wins?

KO: I honestly don’t celebrate small wins aside from smiling happily internally.

AM: Can you share something with us that we wouldn't know from looking at your public social media profiles? 

KO: I work in medical sales and have been doing that for eight and a half years.

AM: How do you find balance when your businesses success depends on you?

KO: I create a to-do list with the most important things getting addressed first.

AM: How do you define success?

KO: Living out your purpose.

AM: What advice do you have for women who are setting out on their own?

KO: Seek advice from people who ACTUALLY have fruit on the tree. Not all advice is sound.

AM: Anything else you'd like to share?

I have a lot of business advice on so check it out there. Be sure to follow my personal page on IG and Twitter: @karenokonkwo and my business’s page: @TONL

How do you find balance and measure success? 

Let us know in the comments below. 

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