Interview with Oksana Kolesnikova, a world-renowned Entrepreneur, Artist, Philanthropist who is settled in the U.S since 2006. We took this opportunity to gain insight into her life. Let’s get to know more about her.
I am also the founder and CEO of three organizations: Oksana® Franchising International, Inc., Oksana® Management Group, Inc. and Oksana® Foundation.org.
I am so very proud of the way I truly embody the essence of “the American dream.”
In representing the face of my own brand, I have bestowed upon myself a golden fusion of diligence, drive, global outreach, entrepreneurial spirit, sheer talent and charitable, hard work.
After falling in love with the piano at a young age, I began classical piano lessons in my native Russia, eventually becoming inspired enough to focus on developing this talent and winning some music competitions along the way. Blessed with parents who were educators and who sought better opportunities for their children, I immigrated with my family to America in 1993, following the fall of the Soviet Union.
While enrolled in SPJC, I won the Florida State Young Artists Symposium Competition, an honor that secured me a scholarship at FSU, and this laid the groundwork for taking my talent and entrepreneurial spirit to another level. It wasn’t long before I began booking piano performances across the country, and even enjoyed recurring bookings on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). In 2003, I experienced the honor of becoming the first Russian-American female pianist to travel overseas to entertain U.S. troops and United Nations officials.
In 2010, I established the Oksana® Management Group, Inc., which today provides After-School Enrichment Programs and private lessons in music and arts, foreign languages, academic tutoring, drama/theater, sports and financial literacy programs, and in 2019 I launched Oksana® Franchising International, an organization offering franchising opportunities to other entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad.
An underlying love for children and philanthropy lead me to open the 501 (c)(3) Oksana® Foundation in 2020, and in wishing to leave my legacy and positive impact on the world, I sculpted this Foundation’s inherent mission statement:
“With every child is the promise of a better world. At the Oksana® Foundation, we believe that limited means should not limit a child’s talent. We provide access to educational opportunities for children, so their talents can be nurtured, cultivated and utilized to create positive and lasting changes in the world around them.”
Please tell us a little about your background and your journey.
As an inspiration-driven individual who has dynamically transitioned from young award-winning pianist to CEO of three businesses, I often refer to myself as the “walking embodiment of the American dream.” Over the course of my tenure, I have been a composer, educator, innovative music and language curriculum developer and, as of late, a personal mentor to the franchise owners in the Oksana® Franchising International, Inc. network.
I emigrated with my family from Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, a move that resulted in us living in the state of Florida in the U.S. I won the Florida State Young Artists Symposium Competition, which lead to a scholarship to the School of Music at Florida State University, and it wasn’t long before my emerging musical prowess was realized in the form of performances across the Sunshine State and on television, ultimately sculpting a formidable fan base. I went on to become the first Russian-American female pianist to travel overseas to entertain U.S. military personnel, encompassing two 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 – before traveling with the Navy to Asia, with stops in Guam, Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Singapore.
From 2006 to 2013, I performed daily for countless celebrities and business leaders as a pianist at the legendary Polo Lounge in the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel. During this tenure, I began teaching piano to a growing roster of students, eventually developing my innovative model to deliver one-on-one lessons to hundreds of students in a range of subjects, in addition to an after-school arts and scholarship enrichment program, currently implemented in 12 schools. For the purpose of expanding opportunities for students and entrepreneurs across the U.S. and beyond, I eventually launched franchising opportunities through a newer venture I am particularly proud of, Oksana® Franchising International, Inc.
When it comes to my first love, music, I am proud to say that I have recorded eight full-length albums of original, classical and popular tracks as well as an instructional video for students of piano; international artists have even collaborated with me and, in some cases, handled the recording work for my music.
I also have become overtly active in the social media and YouTube worlds, what with my “Oksanabella” YT channel featuring my performances experiencing over 2.5 million upload views from all over the globe.
What have you learned about yourself since you became a celebrity?
To be perfectly honest, I am honored to be labeled a “celebrity;” I don’t often stop and think of myself as one. I see myself as an average person driven by my passions and the mission to make a positive difference in others’ lives. I’m truly blessed to have discovered what those passions are early in my life, and I feel that this resonates with many people once they discover what it is that I do. Still, there is one vital thing I learned while being in the public spotlight, and that it’s a big responsibility – not only am I under pressure to always deliver my very best, I must serve as a mentor and role model for others.
What’s the one thing you hate about being a celebrity?
While I am appreciative of the celebrity status, there are a number of elements that aren’t as glamorous as people imagine; but I have obviously accepted that they come with this territory. One is the lack of privacy, which was a big deal for me to get used to because I was (and continue to be) a very private person by nature. Secondly, verbal communication has definitely been a challenge, given the fact that my command of the English language is not comparable to native speakers (and my slight accent surely doesn’t help); indeed, when in public, you need to have control over your verbiage when delivering an important message, and because I had not spoken any English until I was 16, it is still, in some ways, a new language to me. It is my sincere hope that my audience continues to exude a forgiving and understanding perspective in this regard.
Do you feel you have achieved everything you’ve ever wanted in life?
I am truly grateful for the things I have endured and the status I’ve achieved, but it is not in my nature to rest on any laurels. I’m always compelled to move forward to explore new ideas, projects and goals, while taking them to new heights for the purpose of positively affecting many others. As with any meaningful endeavor undertaken in one’s life, there are ups and downs, victories and losses, but it’s the journey itself that excites me.
What accomplishment of yours are you most proud of?
There are indeed several accomplishments I am most proud of, but the most recent example would have to be the launch of my own non-profit 501 (c)(3) foundation – it was a dream realized for me after many years of working relentlessly to create a charitable foundation to help underprivileged youth. It may sound like an overt cliché at this point, but I really do believe children are the future – we must teach them morals, civic duty, responsibility and everything else that glues a society together, perhaps now more than ever given the current unstable state of the world, and I am convinced this begins at the education level. The Oksana® Management Group’s After-School Enrichment Programs, along with all the other premium services we offer, are just a peek into that window of change we hope to bring in order to make a difference.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
In believing that life should be a matter of balance and that there should be no reason to get burned out by pressure and stress, my favorite pastime outside of work and performing is to be in the company of family and friends – most importantly, my own family. I’m the proud mom of 10-year-old Alessandro Concas, who is already quite the successful and ambitious young entrepreneur, having put out his own book entitled The A to Z’s of Fighting Boredom at the age of eight, turning his project into a profitable sales venture. He’s currently planning on opening his own publishing business, starting with his own school’s magazine/newspaper, upon return to his studies once the country becomes more normalized.
Alessandro has also turned out to be quite the talented pianist himself, entertaining groups with his impressive skills on the keys, and to say that I love spending my free time with him while teaching him everything about business, music and other important life skills is something of an understatement.
What’s the most courageous thing you’ve done in your life?
When it comes to courageous moments in my life, 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. Launching my business is the other big moment, despite naysayers constantly warning me about failure – and 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.
In retrospect, all I can say is that success is the best revenge.
What advice would you give to your younger self and to your fans who are reading this interview?
First and foremost: 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.