CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. — Ilia Kolosov of Cliffside Park was only 15 when his father said to him in a thick, Russian accent: "I need rent. Go get it."
The 29-year-old has delivered hotel room service to celebrities, worked in a pharmacy and as a paper boy just to turn a profit for dear ol' dad.
But it wasn't until Kolosov risked it all in 2012 and launched his customized dance shoe company, AIDA Dance USA, that things started coming together.
"I am a millennial," Kolosov said. "I disprove the stereotype that we are lazy, Facebook-browsing nobodies. There are exceptions and I am an example of one of them.
I'm grateful for the fact I can live in America, the only place where you can apply yourself and success is guaranteed if you try and passionately care about what you’re doing.
Kolosov and his family had nothing when they moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. from Russia in 2000, two years after the Russian economic crash. It wasn't long before he got tired of working for other people and decided to do something for himself.
"I wanted to give this whole 'America thing' a shot," said Kolosov, who at the time was five years into working at a dance shoe store.
I reached out to the factory to see if they would give me a chance to expand the brand nationwide. I don't know why, but they did.
The shoes are handmade in Moscow and anything that a dancer wants in a shoe, AIDA Dance USA can do it.
The come-up wasn't easy, though. Kolosov got his start as a door-to-door salesman at dance studios in New York City. More often than not, he was rudely turned away.
But Kolosov was persistant and eventually began making friends, among them the brother of a popular dancer who began working alongside him.
Together, they traveled to regional ballroom dance competitions where they set up tables and sold their shoes.
They call themselves AIDA after the dance move, but there's an acronym behind it, too.
Attention. Interest. Decision. Action.
"I kept stumbling onto these little things as my business grew," he said. "So I kept going with it."
Things took off for Kolosov and Aida Dance USA when he merged his college degree with his new business.
"I utilized the marketing strategies I was taught in college and that revolutionized the industry," said Kolosov, a social media pioneer of sorts.
"My popularity really spiked for the older ladies who like dancing but have foot problems," he said. "I created custom solutions for people who needed special attention but can't dance in a generic size."
Kolosov is not a dancer but says he's found true happiness in his line of work.
"I am grateful that I was able to identify something that people needed and I've fulfilled that empty space," he said.
"For that, I was rewarded with both personal growth, financial stability and satisfaction of life, knowing that I'm helping others make their lives better."