“Never give up, believe in yourself and your vision. When pursuing a true passion for what you do, that may actually benefit others, people will take notice and most will support you in this mission. When the going gets tough, don’t lose focus; there is always that ray of sunshine at the end of the storm”, says Oksana Kolesnikova. She is the CEO and franchisor at Oksana Franchising International, Inc. As a multi-role entrepreneur, she is also a live performer; founder of a School of Music; musical collaborator; philanthropist.
Journey; A Renowned Pianist to Inspiring Entrepreneur
Oksana emigrated with her family from Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1993, initially settling in Florida when she reached the United States. While pursuing her passion for music, she went to study at St. Petersburg College and Florida State University. Soon after graduation, she went on to perform across the U.S. and on television and became the first Russian-American female pianist to travel overseas to entertain U.S. military personnel, a career move that encompassed several world tours on behalf of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department of the U.S. Navy and a solo tour to entertain U.S. troops in Italy, Spain, and Greece.
The responsibilities changed after she became a mom, and had resigned from her busy touring lifestyle and transition into becoming a businesswoman. She states, “A transition that was the direct result of performing daily for countless celebrities and business leaders as the in-house pianist at the legendary Polo Lounge in the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel between 2006 and 2013.”
After her transition as a businesswoman she initially set out teaching piano to a roster of celebrities and their kids, and gradually, over several years, this business venture expanded into offering tutoring for different subjects. She states, “It was at this point that I launched my first company, Oksana Management Group, Inc. (www.OksanaManagementGroup.com ) in 2010, a smoothly-operating business that, to this very day, offers programs in music (piano, voice, guitar, singing, and more); foreign languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Hebrew, Farsi and beyond); academic tutoring and test prep in all subjects for K through 12 as well as art (drawing and painting), acting and drama, fitness, yoga, cooking classes, martial arts, summer camps, and STEAM initiatives.”
The business model born out of OMG, Inc. proved to be successful, withstanding the test of time in addition to a myriad of other challenges. In 2019, Oksana opened her second company, Oksana Franchising International, Inc. (dba www.OksanaEnrichment.com); for this endeavor, she decided to apply the success of the business model to create a national franchise system, which proved to be a natural evolution with regard to scaling and expanding the brand. This new beginning also presented an opportunity to allow other entrepreneurs to flourish in this exciting field by way of joining the company’s franchise network; indeed, today’s Oksana Enrichment offers franchising opportunities to entrepreneurs looking to work in the areas of education, tutoring, after-school enrichment, local youth-oriented community classes/programs, adults/seniors activities, and the online community. She asserts, “We offer a myriad of programs not only for students preferring private, one-on-one tutoring but also for the public, private and charter schools, districts, municipalities, and counties.”
Women Empowerment and the Long Struggle to Achieve it
According to Oksana, female business leaders have already come so far in the world of business. She mentions that all successful and emerging women leaders should be forever grateful to those brave female figures of the past who paved the road for them and, ultimately, faced far more challenges with regard to gender discrimination in the male-domineering world of business; a notion that traces back as little as half a century ago. Just as any business individual and entrepreneur, Oksana herself endured many struggles on the journey of growing her enterprises, but she points out that none of them were related to gender inequality.
Franchise; Misconceptions and Reality
When it comes to the franchise industry there are many misconceptions. Oksana wants to provide more reliable sources of information on the web and not just one-sided data based on stories of failure and “scare” tactics. She is rather showcasing and sharing more of the reliable and proven success stories. She says, “What bugs me the most is that there have been plenty of successes achieved by individuals operating in this industry, but they have, unfortunately, been overshadowed by the aforementioned failure numbers; as such, many people that want to get into this industry are discouraged long before they are willing to give it a try.” People end up reading a lot of rhetoric filled with drama, failures, and misconceptions, which normally pop up in overwhelming quantities when one is doing online research.
Dwelling in Piano Melodies
Being in the artistic industry is a work of dedication to create something genuine. This process demands time. Oksana’s days are so consumed with running her businesses and working with consulting clients, protégé pupils, and franchisees. With this working schedule, she rarely has enough time to work on art. She says, “The only time I really have for this is when I go on vacation – whenever that happens.”
She considers that traveling and being inspired by new places is what ignites her creativity. She is relaxed and not constantly bombarded by business calls, texts, emails, and issues. During this time she experiences some tranquility, tuning to her own inner creative world and hearing the beautiful piano melodies inside her head.
Pursuing dreams is in itself a great risk as there is no surety of success. Oksana asserts, “I would have to say that pursuing my music in opposition to what others around me were saying about the lack of money in it and how difficult it would be for me to achieve success is the one that stands out.” After all the challenges Oksana’s big moment was launching her business, despite naysayers constantly warning her about failure. “I had heard it all, from the notion that nine out of 10 businesses fail and the economy is bad to the fact that competition is too fierce.
Now, years later, I believe I made the right choices by following my passions. In retrospect, all I can say is that success speaks for itself,” says Oksana.
A Proud Mom
In believing that life should be a matter of balance, Oksana’s favorite pastime outside of work and performing is to be in the company of her family. She says, “I’m the proud mom of 11-year-old Alessandro Concas, who is already quite the successful and ambitious young entrepreneur. At the age of eight, he released his own books entitled The A to Z’s of Fighting Boredom, and Life of the Time Cat: Rise of Catastrophyre at the age of nine.
She further adds that Alessandro has also turned out to be quite the talented pianist himself, entertaining groups with his impressive skills on the keys. She asserts, “I love spending my free time with him while teaching him everything about the business, music, and other important life tools.”
Giving Back to the Community
Oksana’s third and more recent business venture came in the form of a nonprofit. She always dreamt of having her foundation one day to give back to communities. She opines, “I have always had a burning desire to help underprivileged, challenged youth by offering them educational opportunities that they otherwise could never afford. These dreams became a reality when the unfortunate current events we find ourselves in lead to the launch of my nonprofit Oksana®Foundation (www.OksanaFoundation.org).”
Since the start of the pandemic, the Oksana®Foundation has been providing free-of-charge online music programs to children aged seven through 13 and who has been confined at home due to social distancing measures. A plethora of children have joined virtual classrooms every week to master a new skill, and the foundation has been welcoming more students who wish to join regardless of where they’re located in the world.
To learn and know more about Oksana Kolesnikova’s work and how she is helping children to see and learn music on a deeper level, visit her YouTube channel; oksanabella, Instagram Page; omgoksana, and Facebook account; @pianistoksana.