Coming from a family of artists, Bryce Krzenksi was the first to choose a path in the medical field.
Bryce happened upon her role as an occupational therapist (OT) in college.
“One summer, I ended up being an assistant to a bunch of women in their nineties,” Bryce says. “Then one of them had a stroke, and they had an occupational therapist come into the home. I was talking with [the OT] and telling her [the older woman] had weakness on one side of her body. So, we were going out to the garden, arranging flowers and doing all these things as an exercise that was more fun for the person I was helping take care of.”
The OT was impressed with the work Bryce had done with the older woman and told her she should consider becoming an OT herself. When Bryce returned to school that year, she switched her major to exercise science and completed internships in OT, physical therapy and nutrition. She enjoyed her internship in OT the most, so she pursued that field.
The OT career track has a vast range of specialties. This field requires a master’s degree and the coursework includes many science courses.
“It is a lot of time and a lot of money,” Bryce says. “It’s an extra two years of school on top of undergrad and clinicals that are unpaid.”
After earning a master’s degree, Bryce began working as a licensed OT and has worked in this field for three years.
Bryce started her career as a cardiac and spine OT in a New York City hospital. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bryce began treating COVID patients. For the past year, Bryce has worked in pediatric homecare through a children’s hospital.
The ages of patients who Bryce sees range from newborn to 44. However, most of her patients are under 3 or 4.
Bryce has a highly flexible work schedule since she creates it herself and chooses which patients she wants to take on. This way, Bryce can decide how often her patients need to be seen and better regulate where and how far she has to travel.
But that’s not all Bryce does as an OT. She also works in home adaptation and community outreach to help make homes and facilities more accessible within her community for people who are older or have disabilities.
Bryce loves the diversity that the field of OT offers, and she enjoys every aspect of her work. Still, she especially loves focusing on home adaptation where she works with clients to make their homes safer and easier to move around to perform daily tasks.
“It’s such a fun and creative way to help people be more independent,” Bryce says. “It creates so much more independence with these simple fixes, and you can really work with the client to make it something functional. I really enjoy that, and I would love to do more work in the community, like making restaurants and public attractions more accessible.
“New York, as a whole, is not the most accessible city sometimes,” Bryce says. “I would love to work with people that are higher up in the city to help make everything a lot more accessible.”
The most difficult part of Bryce’s work is dealing with insurance companies and receiving approval for equipment and services. In addition, working in a hospital was challenging for Bryce since she could not always provide the care her patients needed because of limitations from supervisors; what was good for the patient was not always good for the hospital.
“Dealing with the healthcare system, in general, is the most complicated,” Bryce says.
“The main gist of Storia is to tell people’s stories through whatever means they want to express themselves,” Bryce says.
She started her business as a senior in college using Instagram, and it took off rather quickly.
“When I started, I was making jackets and paintings for people’s apartments and things like that,” Bryce says.
During grad school, Bryce ended up making a lot of jackets, paintings and other personalized gifts for members of the NFL and their significant others.
“As I’ve gotten older, a lot of my clients have grown up with me,” Bryce says. “I’ve had a lot of them for five or six years at this point. So now they’re all getting married, and I’m getting married.”
She spends a lot of time creating personalized gifts for weddings including jackets and signage.
Bryce feels she connects well with brides because of her unique approach to creating one of her most favored products, bridal jackets, which she prefers to call “love story jackets.”
Along with the personally-designed products Bryce makes and sells on Storia, she teaches art classes. Bryce also does in-person activations for brands and she coaches other entrepreneurs who want to start businesses like Storia.
The most significant struggle for Bryce with her two roles is time management.
“I feel like my personal life is always what takes the backseat because I have a full-time job with my OT,” Bryce says. “I work for another company, so I can’t take any time off from that. And I’m so excited about everything that’s going on with Storia, so I have a hard time saying no. So saying no is something that I’ve been working on.”
A long-term goal for Bryce is to grow her shop Modmethod, where she sells gifts for healthcare professionals.
To women considering work as an OT, Bryce says, “Do a lot of shadowing in a bunch of different professions, and don’t be afraid to change your job if you don’t like it. There are a thousand OT jobs out there. Look for another one and make sure you’re really happy in what you’re doing.”
For women wanting to start their own business, Bryce suggests this: “Do what feels right to you because forcing something is not sustainable. If it is natural to you, then it will naturally grow, and you will continue to have your passion for it.”