Updated: Aug 25, 2018
When starting a business, the most important thing seems to be loving what you do. When getting to know Melina Hernandez, the love she has for her company is evident in everything she says. By Lolita is an online jewelry shop, launched by Hernandez in July of 2016. Her father named her Melina and gave her the nickname of Lola. When choosing a name for the brand, it was very important to choose something that represented her. By Lolita was perfect as it showcased that she is the creator of all of the work. Hernandez always had a thing for fashion although she avoided studying it in school to keep up with certain family expectations. Her love for jewelry is something passed along the generations of her family. Her mother has not only been a huge inspiration and motivation towards Hernandez taking this bold move, she also funded the start of By Lolita. With just $200, Hernandez purchased a few pieces and started selling online.
Having graduated from John Jay with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Hernandez tried to get a job in her field for two years. The search was ineffective and she ended up working for Chase bank. The job was good, but in her heart, she knew there were better
things in store for her. It was shortly after this that she had started By Lolita. The brand soon became very demanding, it became difficult for her to handle everything on her own. She had a feeling that she could be successful from and through her business, she felt it in her gut. Going to work at Chase was becoming more difficult every day, so much so that she began feeling almost displaced being there. One Monday morning in September of 2017, Hernandez was at work in the bathroom when she asked God to show her a sign, one letting her know that she should quit this job and focus solely on her business. In that exact moment, her website received a new order, she couldn’t believe that her wish had come true. It was then that she realized that now, more than ever, was the moment for her to completely dedicate herself to her business. That same Monday she approached her manager and resigned from her position at the bank.
Completely dedicating herself to the business has had an impact on her relationships, but Hernandez would rather be investing in this vision than anything else. Her family and friends understand that she's not able to attend certain events and even offer their help with the business. Although she is the face of the brand and the only official employee, her brother helps with shipping packages and her sisters help with modeling the merchandise. It is a blessing to have people who support your hard work the way Hernandez does.
Many small businesses are hesitant about having brand ambassadors. After all, sending someone your merchandise takes away from your sales. Hernandez was uncertain if to move forward with this step that has now become a trend. But she did and doing so has brought great success to
her company. Gabriela Luna was the first-person Hernandez reached out to in regard to sending her jewelry. When Gabriela posted on Instagram about the pieces she had received from By Lolita, it drove a lot of traffic to the business. Not only did By Lolita gain clients but also many people reached out wanting to do collaborations with the company. When deciding who gets to be an ambassador, Hernandez sticks to her truth and love for fashion. Having a lot of followers is not enough, she must relate to the person or their fashion style. Another important moment for the brand was when model Bella Hadid was photographed wearing pieces from the company (Picture of Bella). Fashion designer, Sel, had contacted Hernandez suggesting she reach out to Hadid’s stylist because he was searching for jewelry brands to work with. At first, she was hesitant to reach out because she feared being denied. Fear and all, she contacted him and that very same day received a response. In order to get to where you want to be, the first step is taking the chance. “This Is just the beginning. God keeps blessing me, I'm so happy!” says Hernandez.