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Rising Stars: Meet Emily Konczal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Konczal.

Hi Emily, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in photography from the University of Central Missouri, I continued to create and grow a portrait photography business called Emily Nicole Photography throughout the St. Louis area and beyond. I first began specializing in high-end high school senior photography and slowly added in wedding portraiture as well. I’ve always had a creative side, from performing in dance and theatre throughout childhood to then showcasing everyone’s beauty and personality through imagery as well as pushing myself creatively with self-portraits.

Looking back at the last ten years, it’s thrilling to see how not only my work has changed and progressed, but myself as well. Sometimes you can get caught up in the future and working endlessly on achieving the next goal, but when you take a moment to look back, you realize how far you’ve already come. When I was in school at UCM, one of our projects was creating a business plan and portfolio. I had included a goal of having a brick-and-mortar studio of my own within five years of graduating. At the time, it seemed so far-fetched, but five years down the road, I had made it happen. That was absolutely one of the most gratifying and proud moments of my career to that point.

When I turned 25, I started to find myself in a rut, as most of us do. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be further along? Maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to be doing with my life. After toying with the idea of searching for another career opportunity for almost two years, I decided to make the switch. While I would continue to bring on photography clients, I found an opportunity to partner with an event coordinating company in St. Louis, MO called Saving Grace Occasions. I decided to go on the interview and after meeting its owner, Grace (Freeman) Wilson, I knew it was meant to be!

Grace and I worked together creating and coordinating dream weddings for our clients. It was so fulfilling seeing the months and months of work realized and how incredibly happy all of our clients were. This also gave me a wonderful chance to meet and network with some of the greatest wedding and event vendors in and around the St. Louis area.

I LOVED seeing everyone in action, what they could create, and the incredible community St. Louis businesses have with each other. I knew I wanted to stay involved and integrate myself even further with the community but how?

When March of 2020 hit, I was, unfortunately, let go from my position with Saving Grace Occasions (as we all know too well). The COVID-19 pandemic hit the event and wedding industry HARD. It was devastating to see what it was doing to my fellow vendors and of course, all of the couples who had to push off their big days again and again. Being self-sufficient and making sure my bills continued to be paid, I was lucky to get a job at Target for the rest of 2020. It was not the glamorous job I imagined for myself spending my first year in my own apartment in the “big city,” but it did the job!

I continued to put my name out there and sent out resume after resume and after several successful interviews fell through and I had nearly given up hope of ever finding a position I would be proud of and happy with, I was sent a proposal for a new business opening up in STL asking if I was interested in interviewing for the position being offered. I read through the proposal and, after seeing the words, “a collaborative and creative workspace for women in business.” I was hooked.

The last couple of years of networking and meeting the incredible people in the STL business industry has now brought me to MPWR STL, a brand new co-working space in St. Louis, MO that is a springboard for women to take their businesses to the next level. I was given the Community Manager position at MPWR STL. I’m able to oversee the day-to-day activities, have hands-on contact with all incoming inquiries, make sure all of our members have what they need to succeed, and I’m blessed with meeting and connecting with hundreds of incredible and hardworking entrepreneurs in and around St. Louis.

It truly is the best of ALL worlds. I’m able to continue my photography on a passion-based level while collaborating and creating with the best St. Louis has to offer. I never would have thought the small-town girl from Missouri would now be working alongside such inspiring people, but here I am!

I’ve always thought of myself as a positive person, emanating light and giving others an optimistic outlook. To find a place where the entire goal is to empower and collaborate together to achieve goals is exactly where I want to be.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My road has never been smooth, instead, it sometimes seemed like a grade D road with speed bumps added to it for no reason I could see. I always tried to have a positive outlook and definitely kept a positive face in public, but as so many do, I was hiding major anxiety, depression, failures I couldn’t even admit to myself, and a desperate desire to simply be happy, but unable to figure out how to make it happen.

Growing up, although I loved being in the spotlight, I was still shy. I wanted to speak my mind but was always afraid of saying the wrong thing. I ended up being the shy girl in the circle, just smiling and nodding along with what everyone else was saying. It took until I was around 25 to really start to feel confident with who I was, what I believed in, and not afraid to just be myself no matter what anyone else thought.

Life is never perfect or easy, but surrounding yourself with like-minded people and friends and family who truly care about you, is the best thing you can give yourself.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’ve always been passionate about self-portraiture. When I lost my passion for my photography related to my business, self-portraiture is how I was able to find that passion back. It’s an incredible way for me personally to stretch my creativity, relax and have fun! If you’d like to check out my personal page, feel free to follow me @emilynicolekonczal

I’m always interested in working and collaborating with other creatives as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in collaborating with a shoot!

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m passionate about photography and always will be, whether it’s full-time or not. I’m still accepting clients year-round, and I love being able to capture people’s beauty. I specialize in high school seniors and weddings. I’m currently putting a lot of my energy into my new position at MPWR STL and am absolutely loving it! If you are interested in learning more about MPWR, visit www.mpwrstl.com

Contact Info:

Image Credits
(Personal photo) – Joan Fisher (additional photos) – Emily Konczal, Emily Nicole Photography

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