We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Kwo Friedl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Ingenuity and authenticity drive the success of my business and brand. As a college essay counselor, I help college-bound students find their voice and tell their story, and, season after season, I’m thrilled to be a part of their journey. With my expertise and guidance, parents gladly relinquish the stress that goes along with overseeing the essay writing process, and my students confidently present their best selves in their applications. The college application process is one of life’s momentous milestones, and I consider it an honor to be a part of such a pivotal time in a young person’s life. My personal and individualized approach enables me to truly get to know my student clients as I guide them in identifying their core values, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and discover their potential to make an impact in their community and beyond. Because I genuinely love what I do, from the very first meeting, my clients experience my dedication to my craft, appreciate my professionalism, and trust my expertise. And as my business expands from year to year thanks mostly to referrals, I can focus on helping more students reach their goals, while continuing to embrace my creativity and resourcefulness and continuously learn and grow as a person and professional.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When applying to college, the essays that colleges require students to write can be one of the most overwhelming and stressful parts of the application for both students and families. These essays are truly one of the only parts of the application over which the student has ultimate control, and rightly so, feel very high stakes. Counseling students through this opportunity is my specialty, and I wield my experience as a writer, communications specialist, and educator to help students make the most of this opportunity to shine. Venturing out on my own and creating my business and brand requires ingenuity and patience. Developing everything from the vision for my work, the name of my company, to my website, social media presence, and backend processes and procedures was a step by step process that evolved both organically and intentionally. And because my business is highly personal and individualized, I’m continually pivoting and reimagining my work to meet the needs of my clients. One of my superpowers is striking the delicate balance of professionalism and relatability in order to quickly establish the trust and confidence required to elicit the hard work and sometimes difficult introspection required to write authentic and captivating essays. I believe to be successful, I need to continue learning and growing. With the pandemic, I had to quickly pivot my entire process and business online. Though unexpected, I now service clients from around the world, using technology like Zoom to communicate and collaborate. One essential ingredient to success I experience both in my own business and observe in my students is being strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it. Tapping into my professional networks and learning from others helps me tackle the inevitable challenges that come with the dynamic and fast-paced nature of college admissions.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My personal tour of San Diego highlights would begin at Balboa Park, the crowning jewel of San Diego. From world-renowned museums and eclectic gardens, to artists and street performers and people watching, there is no better place to soak in the culture, history, and vibrancy of our city – not to mention, I could literally spend hours snacking and drinking on the gorgeous patio at The Prado. No visit would be complete without a day at the beach. No matter what time of year, the sand, ocean, sun, fresh air, and occasional dolphin sighting is guaranteed to feed your soul. Just a short drive from the beach is One Paseo for a good meal from funky and fresh eateries like Cava and Salt and Straw, some window shopping, and creative photo taking – not to mention the chance to hang out on a cool night at the cozy fire pit. For a whole day of shopping, I recommend the beautiful and contemporary outdoor UTC mall with the best shops from Abercrombie to Zara and yummy food including Din Tai Fung and Lemonade. No visit to San Diego would be complete without a day in Old Town – the historic heart of San Diego – where visitors can experience distinctive early Mexican-American history. Finally, to end the week, we’ll relax and unwind, treating ourselves to a spa day at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn and Spa.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
While there are many people I’m grateful for in my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the unconditional love and support of my family. Despite the challenges and unknowns of creating and managing my own business, I can count on my parents, sister and brother, and my three kids for their unwavering inspiration and encouragement that provide the foundation for me to continue chasing my dreams.