Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Molly Kuplen

By  0 Comments

Appreciating the hard work ethic of family members and deeply embracing her love of Mother Nature’s beauty led to greener pastures for Kansas City, Missouri, resident Molly Kuplen. Born and raised on a 1,000-acre crop farm and cattle ranch near Pittsburg, Kansas, Molly cultivated her career as a blogger, photographer and influencer thanks in large part to her solid agricultural roots.

“On the farm, I saw a lot of the natural beauty and really valued nature because it was all around us. There’s a lot of value growing up on a farm, being from a small town and knowing people really well,” she shared. “I say that my success didn’t happen overnight, but it happened through the night. So there were a lot of nights that I was up till three or four in the morning editing, but eventually, it all paid off. I just put in the work and was not afraid to work hard. And that could tie back into growing up on a farm and seeing my dad and my grandpa working hard and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.”

While her work ethic may come from her father’s side of the family, what gave root to her new career was her mother’s love of colorful and unique items, which goes against the grain for a normally conservative farm wife. “My blog and my Instagram are known for bright colors and bold patterns that may not match, but it does. It just comes down to how we think. I think color and a lot of people identify me with that,” Molly remarked. “My mom has always marched to the beat of her own drum and I thank her for shaping me to be different than others and, most importantly, to always be myself.”

Her company, Molly Kuplen, has grown quickly since she gave up a job in education to dive head-first into a dynamic photography business including branding, commercial, weddings, gatherings, real estate and more. She also offers business and social media coaching to help clients build brand and reach their highest potential on social media platforms.

“I was taking a lot of pictures on the farm just for fun as a creative outlet. I didn’t plan to become a photographer. I was taking these pictures of cows, kittens, dogs, landscapes and random things around the farm, and a family friend asked if I could take their daughter’s senior pictures. I didn’t have the confidence but she said, ‘We’ll just pick from whenever you go out and take your pictures—the sunsets and the fields—and we’ll just put her in the frame,’” Molly recalled. “So I took a chance and taught myself how to edit with videos on YouTube and became a perfectionist in the process. I posted those pictures on Instagram and others asked, ‘Can you do this or can you come and take pictures of my business or can you do a headshot?’ I never really turned anything down and just kind of started doing things for either free or very cheap.”

Her photography work was a side hustle that she loved, but she decided she would follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher. Armed with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching, her first year was in Topeka to teach high school health and physical education. In 2012, she moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and taught special education for two years at a KCK middle school and transferred to a PE role in an elementary school. But after eight years, the pull of her camera was too strong. Molly took a big jump in 2019 to focus on her business full time.

“I was doing two full-time jobs. I was going straight from teaching to taking pictures. Then I would edit until like two or three in the morning once I got home from taking pictures. Then I would wake up, go back to my teaching job and then do it all over again,” she recalled. “I missed a lot of friends and families, events and things, but I feel like it’s all paid off now because of the freedom I have. I make my schedule now. That’s been kind of fun to just go from something so structured to now having that freedom.”

Molly says the part that she loves most about her job is the social connections she makes with her clients and colleagues. She thoroughly enjoys the positive reaction that comes from the moment she reveals her photos to her clients. “I love how people feel when they see their pictures. There are a lot of people who don’t love photos of themselves or the idea of getting their picture taken and that’s like a very common theme. You know people are nervous; they don’t want to look bad. So I try to get all the good angles and make everybody look and feel as good as possible,” she stated. “My sessions are usually very carefree and not formal and just laid back and kind of a fun time rather than serious. Whenever they see their photos, they say they’ve never loved a picture more. Then they get this confidence. I love that feeling of making other people feel great.”

From her successful photography work, Molly has organically blossomed into a successful social media influencer, promoting products and events to her thousands of followers. Clothing, accessories, home goods and more are featured by Molly on her posts. She also promotes events at the Plaza as an ambassador. She’s so good at her job that she was recruited by the Kansas City Chiefs to be an influencer for the team and to spread the word to the many types of people who love this team and the good the players and the organization do for the community.

“Last year I got an e-mail and I thought that it was a scam because the Chiefs don’t need anybody to help them get promotion. But it was, it was real. They said, ‘We’re starting this new thing with influencers and we want to promote to all of our fan groups.’ It’s not just a certain type of person that likes Chiefs’ football,” shared Molly. “They want to involve more people than just the average middle-aged man who’s a football fan. We have artists who are Chiefs fans, business owners, jewelry makers and lots of women. It truly is Chiefs Kingdom, and I’m helping them get the word out to my followers.”
Many people dream of being social media influencers and those at the top can make excellent livings. However, there are many steps to take on the path to becoming an effective influencer. Molly shares that her solid success comes from moving outside of her comfort zone and offers this advice to others contemplating this role.

“I would say just to go for it and start before you’re ready because once you get going things will come up and more things will come up. They feed off the next. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because I know that a lot of my success is from not being afraid to fail or what others might think. I encourage people to just go for it and, if they feel like a push to do something, then try it and see what happens,” she noted. “Most of my blog has been built on seeing the positive and I tried to dismiss anything negative and take it as that. It’s redirecting me to a better something that’s better for me. Maybe you go to an event and you make one or five connections at that event and that might lead you to something cool that could be big or maybe you don’t meet anybody at all. But you never know unless you go and put yourself out there to get the experience.”

Molly also approaches her giving to the community with the same enthusiasm that she has for her work. Given her teaching background in special education, she volunteered for the first fundraising gala for Special Olympics Kansas. She’s on the team kicking off a dream home giveaway to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She also spends copious amounts of time with her dog, Mocha Frappe.

As for now, her career keeps her extremely busy, but she also looks down the road and thinks about what the future may hold. Just like many other farm kids who have left behind the homestead to work in the city, she feels a calling to return. “Well, I do love visiting, and I wouldn’t mind moving back, but for now I’m happy being single and busy with work,” she said. “So I just don’t think I would go back right now, but I could see myself eventually living back there or on a farm somewhere.”

From a farm kid with a list of chores to complete every day to an impressive career in photography and social media, Molly lives a life that is rooted in happiness and achievement.

“My biggest thing I think in life in general is taking advantage of everything and just living in the moment, going and doing, and saying yes,” Molly said. “One of my phrases that I like and try to follow is, ‘Living a life I love to live every day.’ If you can live a life you love to live every day, then you’re doing all right.”