Natalya Kolosok: “Be positive and driven.”

The people here are also incredibly positive and driven. To survive in this competitive environment, one has to be very hard working. I am constantly reminded of this and motivated thanks to the people around me. The US will always be a country of innovative and smart people, the country where people go to change […]

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The people here are also incredibly positive and driven. To survive in this competitive environment, one has to be very hard working. I am constantly reminded of this and motivated thanks to the people around me. The US will always be a country of innovative and smart people, the country where people go to change the world.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalya Kolosok. Natalya, a Ukrainian native, is the CEO and founder of New York City Bride, an all-women owned and operated company bringing high-quality and affordable European gowns to American brides. She gave up her position as the Chief Financial Officer of a billion-dollar company branch to establish her own business and become a successful entrepreneur.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Natalya! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Iwas raised in a Ukrainian village by my grandmothers, survivors of the first and second world wars. They were the best mentors, bringing me up in an environment that always promoted my confidence and work ethic. The many stories they told me showed me that life is beautifully complicated and taught me to perceive every obstacle as a chance to better myself. I was always told that I needed to be strong and stand up for myself, and that still guides me through life to this day.

When I moved to a bigger city, I knew that it was time for me to take that advice and put it into action. Striving for independence, I started my first job at 13, later moving into a more serious position at 15 — a marketing agent. This allowed me to pay for my first year of college, which I entered two years early. I was eager to start my own life and to be able to afford to live in the capital of Ukraine. I could not sit still for long without doing something productive. A vision of starting a company came to me at 16. I wanted to give a woman of any financial status the ability to purchase a stunning wedding gown that would match her preferences and be of good quality. I didn’t want gorgeous dresses to be something inaccessible to a bride who is unable to spend a lot of money, because everyone deserves to feel beautiful on their special day. At that point, the idea was still brewing in my head and I knew I had to gain some experience and knowledge to execute everything at the highest level.

I always dreamt of achieving something grand, improving myself, and learning something new daily, and when my dad told me we were moving to the US, I couldn’t have been more scared yet excited for my life to change completely.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?

I was raised to be career-oriented and ambitious. The trigger that made me want to emigrate to America was the desire to make my dreams reality.

Growing up, I understood that my main goal was to become an independent, successful, and strong business woman. Ukraine, a developing post-Soviet country, has many obstacles and stigmas for women, which quite often prevent them from even aspiring to become successful entrepreneurs. I wanted to help other women and show them that it is possible to make it in the business world. I always looked for opportunities to learn and in the US I would have access to the level of education that I would need to help kick-start my career.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the US? What was that experience like?

My dad dreamt about moving to the US for a long time. When he received a green card, our family was ready for this stage of our lives to begin. Although, I still wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be for the first few years.

At just 18, my life as I knew it was over and, with only a basic level of English, I started working multiple jobs to keep afloat. Even though my world turned upside down, I was prepared to put in maximum effort to everything I did to earn my place in this country. I started off being a maid in a hotel and later got a second job with customer service at a local gym. This period of life taught me the importance of good work ethic and further increased my drive for a brighter future.

My dad took three jobs to support us. He kept pushing and helped us get through many challenges by always staying strong and reminding me how many chances I would get in life if I continued to work as hard as I did. I listened.

After improving my English, I could finally dedicate more time to studying. I spent countless hours earning my three degrees while working full-time. I wanted to have a social life too, so I would go out and attend concerts occasionally. But then I would wake up at 5am to study so that I could maintain high grades. I continue to learn and improve myself, expanding my horizons to this day, taking advantage of resources available to us in the US.

Our heritage is an important part of who we are. Yet the challenges you face when you step out of your comfort zone can shape you into an improved person capable of achieving much more. As they say, take the lemons life gives you and make lemonade from them.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

Here is a story of true friendship. My grandfather passed away 30 years ago, but he was the one who made our emigration to the US easier. A friend of his moved to the US a long time ago and we reached out to him, not expecting anything as so many years had gone by. This kind man accepted my family into his home, supported us financially, and helped us find jobs. 30 years after my grandfather’s death, their bond proved as strong as it was in the beginning. I will always remember the kindness we received. I am forever grateful to him for giving us a home away from home. This support made adaptation a faster and easier process for us.

So how are things going today?

After leaving my position at an international company, my decision to venture out and start my own business was quite risky. Yet, I saw a niche that could be filled and decided to act on it. I created New York City Bride to allow every woman to have her dream wedding dress at an affordable price, fulfilling her fantasies. Furthermore, I saw that I could make this experience very special. I wanted my business to have a high degree of personal touch, reaching out and providing guidance to every customer. Despite the ongoing pandemic, our goal stays the same and we go to considerable lengths to make sure that brides have their dresses delivered in perfect condition on their special day. Various discounts and deals are provided at personal request in order to serve the community challenged by financial difficulties. As the company adjusts to the clientele and looks for ways to reliably deliver even under the most extreme circumstances, such as borders being closed, all requests are being processed individually on a 24-hour basis. Our company bears most costs, including express mail, while keeping the prices affordable to make sure that brides are truly happy on their special day. During these trying times, we are willing to do our best to provide the support our customers and community deserve.

I feel very grateful every time NYC Bride gets a review. I get a warm feeling when I See pictures of our dresses at weddings and how stunning our brides look. I love seeing how many women across America and the entire world we make happy. My business is centered around providing exquisitely designed and carefully crafted dresses to the brides who don’t have as much disposable income to invest in an expensive gown. I saw that chance to help and give any bride a wide selection of gowns to choose from for her special day without breaking the bank.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

After some rough patches I went through to gain a stable income, giving back was not even a question for me. Helping those in need is an essential component of personal success. All of my employees are women and I make sure to find time to mentor them, providing support on both personal and professional levels. I guide them through all new processes very thoroughly, as I was once in their place and understand how important a supportive environment is in any team.

You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?

First, I would improve the information base. When my family and I entered the US we did not know where to learn the language or how to find work opportunities, and we especially did not know that there were free courses for both. In my opinion, essential help in adapting to life in America could be more accessible. There should be a clear way for people of different professions to find opportunities in their field, including legal and regulatory guidance, for example help with licensing. It took us 6 months to discover that the US offers language and professional help for immigrants.

Organizing a special immigration program for people with unique talents and jobs in high demand could help support and revitalize entire industries, while also improving ways of life and providing people with opportunities. This would lead to a very promising future for the US.

I would also create a point-based immigration system in the US, similar to the one currently operating in Australia and Canada. It has a history of success and I think it would make emigration to the US a much more effective and personalized process.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Education. I have acquired three degrees in total that help me on a daily basis: marketing, accounting, and finance. It’s crucial to elevate and educate yourself consistently and use all available resources to their maximum.
  2. Be willing to escape your comfort zone. Branch out, take risks, and go after your dreams. I started my own company after leaving a stable position in a firm and I never regret it. In the two years of my company’s existence, I have served more than 1,000 customers and fulfilled my dreams, discovering many new things about myself in the process.
  3. Give yourself space. I know I said multiple times that working hard is extremely important and has helped me to be where I am now, but having the ability to relax, take your mind off of things, and indulge in a hobby and a social life is essential. After all, would this journey be worth it if we didn’t have time to wind down, reflect, spend quality time with family and friends, and be grateful for where we are today and how much we’ve grown?
  4. Discipline and organization are extremely important. In university, I had to combine work with education without my grades dropping. That is impossible without discipline. Planning your time and having a strong will are key to doing everything on time under any circumstances.
  5. Finally, believing that you can achieve your goals is the strongest factor of success. It’s crucial to know your worth, stand up for yourself, and keep pushing. Being afraid of starting your own business, getting that new job, or even meeting new people takes opportunities away from you, so be adventurous and trust your gut, skills, and strengths.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

In light of recent events, I’m very inspired and empowered by the younger generation. They stick up for their ideas and opinions, and speak up for equality. They come together to bring greater good to our society and I admire that.

The people here are also incredibly positive and driven. To survive in this competitive environment, one has to be very hard working. I am constantly reminded of this and motivated thanks to the people around me. The US will always be a country of innovative and smart people, the country where people go to change the world.

The US is doing a better job at providing support to small businesses during COVID-19. The situation is very complicated and difficult for most companies, yet America is visibly trying their best to allocate available resources in the most efficient way. New York City Bride is very grateful for the aid provided to our business and could not continue serving American brides during the pandemic without it.

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. 🙂

My dream would be to have breakfast with Angela Ahrendts, the Senior Vice President at Apple. Her words and opinions resonate with me, as she once said in an interview, “I realized my success could be traced back to my character and core values — compassion, humility, ambition, and intuition.” I can relate to her and would love to talk to her and get to know her viewpoints on the business industry and how she balances family and work.

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