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How Being An Immigrant Helped Build My Business

Four lessons learned while trying to achieve the American Dream

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How one photographer made the American Dream her own

This week, I was fortunate enough to speak with Lola Melani, celebrity photographer and founder of The Lola Melani Fund. She told me about how, as a little girl in Russia, she dreamed of living in America, where she could create her career as an artist. Now, years later, her dream has come true. She is a U.S. citizen living in the heart of New York City, where she has built one of the most successful photography studies with a global clientele. While it may seem like her journey was easy, it wasn’t. Immigrating to the United States was incredibly challenging for her, but she says that it was definitely worth it. It forced her to learn to take risks, push herself, stay inspired and give back more and be thankful every day for what she has. The lessons she learned throughout her journey changed her life and she shared four of them with me. See below for Lola’s lessons:

1. Take Risks

To be successful I had to be willing to let everything I had go and take some of the biggest risks in my life. As I left behind everything I knew, I also learned one of the most important lessons in entrepreneurship: the greater the risk, the greater the reward potential. Through my photography, I am able to tell stories and capture intimate moments that my clients will cherish forever. This is worth every risk I have taken and will continue to take. As long as you truly believe in what you are doing, never be afraid to leap forward.

2. Push Yourself

It’s important to set personal goals and push yourself to reach them. From my tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, I began building a portfolio by giving myself an assignment each week. This allowed me to practice and experiment often, figuring out what methods would result in my best work, more clients and more opportunities to propel my career forward. By setting small goals and milestones like these, you too can find your personal style and voice and achieve long term successes.

3. Stay Inspired

Remember the things that keep you grounded. Achieving success never comes easily; it takes hard work and perseverance. There will be many moments of doubt and discouragement before there are moments of confidence and bliss. I draw the most inspiration from my clients: Hearing their stories, I laugh with them, I cry with them, and I strive to create something that makes them feel empowered and beautiful during one of the most important moments of their life.

4. Remember, It’s Your Dream

The journey is yours and no one else’s. The American Dream for example is, ultimately whatever you define it to be. Happiness does not necessarily mean money, fame, and recognition. Happiness depends on you. If you dedicate your life to something you love and are passionate about, you can find happiness in the smallest of moments. My American Dream is to create art that captures something raw, timeless, and beautiful and share the stories of my clients. In return, I give back; I am thankful every day for what I have. What’s your dream?

From Melani's Matenity photo series of expectant mothers.
Lola Melani

From Melani's Matenity photo series of expectant mothers.

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