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TONL Creates Stock Photos That Reflect Global Diversity

As someone who regularly looks for stock photos to use for different articles, I know all too well that quality images that reflect the diversity of Black experience.

Enter TONL, a stock photography company that showcases the many ethnic backgrounds of every day people.

We caught up with co-founder, Karen Okonkwo to find out more about the business. This is what she had to say:

TONL founders: Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi
SB: What inspired the creation of TONL?

KO: TONL was initially inspired by my realization that there was a lack of culturally diverse images online when I was running a separate online business and I needed images.

I couldn’t find images of anyone outside of the white race.

SB: How did you and your co-founder connect for this project?

KO: I was well aware of Joshua’s talents through his girlfriend and my friend, Mekdes Mersha. I approached her about the idea and asked her if I should connect with Josh about the idea.
She endorsed it and so I reached out to Joshua and that is how we started the initial dialogue on the business.
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Joshua and Mekdes

SB: Why is representation important?

KO: Representation matters because people need to see themselves in order to feel like they are welcomed and that they belong.
When one race is pushed in media, it doesn’t send the message of inclusion and subconsciously makes other races feel inferior.

SB: What factors do you feel will make TONL a successful stock photo company?

KO: TONL is of the times. We position ourselves in front of current waves so we are appealing to the general public and our target audience.

We achieve this through our more modern looking images, our voice on social media and the personal appearances we make to deeply connect with the consumer.

SB:Where do you see the business in 5 years

KO: In 5 years I see TONL as the premiere, diverse stock photography business. We will be the go-to for all people and businesses looking to showcase more diversity in their media

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

KO: Know your ‘why’ and make sure it’s strong. It will get you through the inevitable low points of building a business. Your why will keep you results-focused rather than process-oriented.

When you’re process-oriented, you care about all the little steps along the way that it often discourages you. Start each day with the end goal in mind.

Find more TONL images on their website.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson aka @thebusyafrican

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