Perseverance — My focus was my family’s well-being and financial security. The road wasn’t paved with a college education, let alone a business plan to gain funds from the SBA or bank. But perseverance required me to implore to seek out a way and I found it through my Aunt Maria who lent me the money to open my business.
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krista Nerestant.
Krista Nerestant opened her first salon when she was just a 25 year old immigrant from the Philippines. Krista has now branched out into other entrepreneurial endeavors including restaurants, non-profit organizations and into the spiritual and life coaching world with Self-ish Lifestyle. Krista Nerestant is a practicing life coach, educated and certified in Neuro Linguistic Programming and The Satir Method of Transformational Systemic Therapy to heal family dynamics and trauma, and is an advocate for women and children. Krista Nerestant is the owner of self-ishlifestyle.com, where she serves as a certified spiritual medium and teacher to demystify the world of spirit and energy. She offers presentations as an inspirational speaker that focus on the power and understanding of the four bodies of our unique SELF — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Her first book, Indestructible: The Hidden Gifts of Trauma is a child survivor’s shocking narrative expertly woven through the perspective of the adult self, who is ultimately healed. Indestructible is an inspirational and teaching memoir that will disrupt society’s perspective on trauma.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Cebu Philippines under the powerful name, reputation, and legacy of my grandfather’s family name — Reroma. He triumphed entrepreneurially through many successful businesses he established in his lifetime, which were in the following industries: trucking, phone, movie theatre, bakery, pharmacy, gas station, fabric, and land. As a child, I worked at the gas station, pharmacy, and bakery. I was raised to never be idle. There was always something to do and the work ethic of an entrepreneur was instilled in me at a very young age. I remembered one summer, at eight years old I had to wake up at 4 am to get on the bakery assembly line packing baked goods alongside the employees, then we packed them into the truck to deliver throughout the island to other stores.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
My mother’s pharmacy became bankrupt and my father wasn’t a reliable source as a provider nor as a caretaker. He was also severely abusive to my mother and when he almost killed her, my mother migrated to the US with the help of her sister who was already living in the United States. I, only 7 years old and my siblings, John-8, Toni -, PJ-2, and Rex-1, didn’t reunite with our mother until four years later in 1993. We survived with her memory through the occasional letters, phone calls, and balikbayan boxes.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
In May of 1993, my siblings and I were told that we were going on a secret vacation and that we couldn’t tell anyone, especially our father. We were awakened in the middle of the night by my uncle and nanny. We quietly snuck out of the house and boarded a ship to Manila. When the boat docked, we were greeted by a woman who I thought was a stranger but it was our mother. Within a week, after multiple trips to the American embassy, we were all on a plane to the US and I didn’t step foot back in my homeland until 8 years later. It was a severe transition. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment with a big enough pantry closet that we turned into my brother John’s room since he was the oldest. My mother, and the rest of us four siblings lived in one bedroom for the next three years. My mother worked as a lab technician during the week and would take odd jobs on her off time such as house or pet sitting. She even cleaned homes. I found out that we were on welfare when we were in the grocery store and she paid with what looked like play money from the Monopoly game. I asked her about it and she hushed me. It was hard for me to understand because she didn’t like charity or handouts.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Auntie Maria, my mom’s sister, helped us a lot financially. She was the sister that convinced and helped my mom to escape her disastrous future with my father. We are a tight knit family and we will always be there for each other in support. She has three children of her own but she didn’t leave us out. I remember waking up early in the morning to go to the outlet malls because they had a sample sale and she said we could get any clothes we wanted. I thought that it was Christmas!
So how are things going today?
Today’s current circumstances and reality are a lot different. I am celebrating ten years of marriage — as I am writing this — to a Marine veteran who loves and honors me in all aspects. We have a five-year-old miracle baby (7% chance of conception) girl who keeps us young, motivated, and drives us to succeed in our business ventures so that we may leave her with a legacy, as well as an outlet for her to learn resiliency, grit, adaptability, and perseverance. Work ethics and love are the foundation to help her thrive throughout her life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The foundation of my practice, Self-ish Lifestyle, is to interact with the community in one’s power, truth, and highest good. And I am adamant in practicing what I preach, which is how Indestructible was inspired and created. How can I help others, if I myself have not yet healed? I continuously pursue interacting with the rest of the world in the best version of me in the many roles and hats that I wear. In honoring that lifestyle, I created The Focus Align Commit Execute technique that encourages individuals to take their personal power and hold themselves to the highest standards of accountability, responsibility, and awareness of not only yourSELF but everyone involved. I share this freely with clients and businesses to maintain a healthy lifestyle of goals, happiness, joy, and whatever version one’s life may deem a success.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
- Expedited process for special circumstances — My mother was separated from her five children for four years. The occasional letters and phone calls weren’t enough to sustain a proper parent-to-child relationship. Our family was broken in many ways, but being separated for that long was catastrophic. My mother followed the rules of the system however and I am grateful for her sacrifice because it was indeed a huge one. I have a five-year-old daughter, and I cannot imagine leaving her for even more than a couple of days, I cannot fathom how my mother survive and how she got through it. She was one strong lady.
- Compassion — In the times I have gone through the process, it is a cattle call. The workers are overwhelmed but so are the migrants. In addition for me, fear was always present. The fear of rejection due to answering a question wrong. Fear of misunderstanding a situation. Fear that someone else literally has the power of whether I stay in the country I called home for years. The powerless nature that the system broadcasts and the lack of compassion from the employees does something to an immigrant. We are human beings. We aren’t any less than you because we are coming from another country. We are survivors, resilient, and will persevere through any circumstances. Even onethat requires us to leave everything we know behind, like our home country to have a future in our favor.
- Clearer Communication — Though we were taught English in our schools in the Philippines, there were still plenty of dialogues that were lost in translation. Again, anxiety and fear were factors but if there were access to Filipino administrators for my mother’s case and us children, that would’ve created an environment of inclusion, rather than hostility or separation.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
- Focus — I was fourteen years old when my mother passed away and left her role as woman of the household to the rest of my siblings. At 17 years old, I recognized a way to provide for my family, which was cosmetology. I decided then that I would focus on making that my career and opening my first salon at 25. In the meantime, I would work on mastering the craft.
- Resiliency — Through the years of mastering the craft, life continued to happen around me. Juggling being the head of household, keeping the family dynamics together, having a social life so not to miss everything as a young woman in my 20’s, on top of focusing and re-focusing on the main goal of opening my first business at 25 was a Herculean task even for me.
- Commitment — The moment you commit to a goal and focus consciously, you are issuing a contract to yourself subconsciously. When I set my goal at 17, I didn’t know how I was going to achieve it, I just knew I had to. And so, when I continued to pursue the mastery of the craft by working under someone’s tutelage and mentorship, subconsciously, my mind was keeping a timeline. At 25 years old I did open my own salon, but not due to how one may assume. I went through a quarter life crisis. In span of five months, I left a long-term relationship, let go of role as caretaker of my siblings, left my current job, and moved out on my own. My commitment to myself at 17 years old had to happen and came to fruition.
- Shifting and adapting — There were so many variables and factors that went into opening an LLC and being a proprietor of my own business: from the state and township requirements and appointments that never were on scheduled time, to unforeseen costs that would seem to arise from anywhere. But the ability to think and be light on your feet in how to maneuver each hurdle is imperative to one’s success. And this insight will forever be my foundation as a human being living in this world. I use this ability in every role I have in this lifetime.
- Perseverance — My focus was my family’s well-being and financial security. The road wasn’t paved with a college education, let alone a business plan to gain funds from the SBA or bank. But perseverance required me to implore to seek out a way and I found it through my Aunt Maria who lent me the money to open my business.
- Be an optimist — This a trait that I cannot live without. No matter how dire a situation is, being a pessimist will not make it any better. However, being an optimist allows you to see or maneuver a way out. It begins with a feeling, then from there an idea will appear and the how will follow.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
I’m a serial optimist as I mentioned above and the 3 things that I am looking forward to in the US’s future are:
- The rise of the power of the individual. The self-empowered being understands their own power and capability to achieve what they want and desire. The need to recognize that though there may be so much going on in the outside world that what’s most important is taking care of your home.
- The younger generation. Their compassion and ability to recognize the melting pot that the US has become.
- I truly believe there is more good than bad in the world — especially here in the US. I am grateful for the opportunities that this wonderful country had provided for me as an immigrant and as a citizen. There is freedom to go full throttle towards what you desire and want to achieve.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Joe Rogan! I admire his well-rounded view in life. He has a great sense of humor and that is so important especially in this severely charged society we currently have. He has interviewed and interacted with so many different individuals from diverse backgrounds and I love how he maintains his truth and foundation yet allows others to challenge or state their perspective without prejudice. He’s my kind of human.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
And my book Indestructible: The Hidden Gifts of Trauma is available from booksellers everywhere.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!