Krystal Yoseph honored her father and their heritage in the name of her public relations firm she began in 2018.
Krystal Yoseph is the daughter of an East African immigrant, who grew up in Oklahoma City and was raised in the Black Baptist faith of her mother.
In 2018, she started her own public relations firm, Konjo. The name, a word from her father’s Ethiopian language of Amharic, comes full circle for her as it is a nod to her father and her upbringing.
“Konjo means beautiful in my dad’s language,” she said. “I’m half Ethiopian, and I have so much pride in my background. I came up with the business name because I knew I was really going to do this. But it’s pride not for clout-sake, but it is more that I want people to have pride in me.”
She said she pulled on the experience she gained when previously working in D.C. for eight years and then from working with Tracey Zeek at Bumbleshoot PR for three years prior to starting Konjo.
“Tracey gave me my entry into Oklahoma City,” she said. “I learned so much from her and really gleaned what a business can look like and how it can be an extension of you.”
But, the first few years were a lot of hard work building her niche in OKC’s crowded public relations community, she said.
“Running a business is no joke,” she said. “And this wasn’t always my dream. My dream was a steady paycheck and health care. The first year was incredibly hard. The structure starting out the first year was incredibly difficult and very eye opening.”
Yoseph made it through 2018 and 2019. Then the pandemic hit.
“I had just hit my stride,” she said. “The first quarter was looking pretty strong. I was working with restaurants; things were looking really good. But the first thing that’s going to go, in my experience, is PR and marketing.”
She said she started working from home as the pandemic raged, and then national news events surrounding George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests changed her reality yet again.
“All of a sudden, we were finding out people didn’t like Black people,” she said, with sarcasm. “It was a really scary time for me with businesses dropping out and this influx of people checking on you because you are their Black friend, which isn’t as helpful as you might think.”
Now, Yoseph said, her business is growing and thriving, as businesses work to bounce back from the pandemic as well. She said she wants to give back and grow the understanding around Black-owned businesses.
“I think we are more welcoming across Oklahoma City as a Black-owned entity, but I think that there is still a little bit where people have to be a little more unafraid you might be the only white person there,” she said. “There are going to be those moments, but people in the Black-owned community are so welcoming, you are going to be treated just as well as anyone else.
“Incremental strides are important, but in order to move forward and prepare for the growth that is coming for those in the Black-owned or women-owned business community, we have to ask a lot of questions honestly and earnestly. And intentions will show through a lot of times.”