Izabela Hamilton | The American Dream Fulfilled by Amazon
In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Izabela Hamilton talks about the American dream fulfilled by Amazon. Izabela is the founder and CEO of RankBell, a leading service solution for ranking products on Amazon, shares her life's journey into e-commerce.
Knowing what to do in life is actually one of life’s biggest questions. But there are those who believe that everything happens for a reason, and if you want something bad enough, then the universe will conspire to make it a reality for you. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk talks about how destiny can shape your path into e-commerce.
In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Izabela Hamilton, the founder, and CEO of RankBell, a white-glove launching and ranking solution for Amazon sellers. RankBell helps Amazon sellers increase their rankings and boost their sales, which in turn leads to better profits! Partnering with RankBell ensures that your products reach the right audience, your profits grow, your position in the marketplace is established, and above all, that your precious time is used for other more important tasks.
Izabela Hamilton takes us on her incredible journey from rural Romania to her fortuitous adventures in America and beyond, exploring all the stations in her life which led her to create RankBell. So if you’re an Amazon seller who wants to rank up and improve your business, or if you’re simply looking for a sign that you’re doing what destiny says you’re supposed to be doing, then this episode is for you!
Learn more about RankBell!
Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I'm really excited to have an extremely special guest. I'm having Izabela Hamilton. Izabela is the founder and CEO of RankBell, which is a leading service solution for ranking products on Amazon. So if you want your products on Amazon to rank higher, hopefully, make it to the top. That's it. She's a place to go. Izabela, welcome to the show.
Izabela Hamilton 0:28
Thank you, Yoni. I'm so excited to be here. We should have done this like years ago, but you know, it's never too late. Perfect time. Perfect place. Right?
Yoni Mazor 0:38
Everything is at the right time. So I think this really is the best time. And today's episode is really going to be all about you, the story of Izabela Hamilton, and you're going to share with our audience, everything, you know? Who are you? Where are you from? Where did you grow up? How did you begin your professional career all the way to where you are now. So without further ado...
Izabela Hamilton 0:57
It's a lot. It's a lot, you know, I've lived a long time.
Yoni Mazor 1:00
Yeah, I’m buckling up, my trunk is ready, I have a cup of water, we’re gonna dive in. And without further ado, let's just jump right into it.
Izabela Hamilton 1:08
Thank you so much. This is very exciting. And I've watched most of all your interviews and I know you go very deep, so I have to be prepared. You know, I didn't do a meditation before but we'll just we'll just see what comes out of it.
Yoni Mazor 1:21
We'll see. Natural, all natural.
Izabela Hamilton 1:22
Let's do it.
Yoni Mazor 1:24
Alright, so you’re born and raised in?
Izabela Hamilton 1:26
Romania, Romania, shout out to Zalau. So a lot of people you know, oh,
Yoni Mazor 1:33
Hold on, hold on, how do you spell that? To help our post production?
Izabela Hamilton 1:35
Z A L A U - Zalau
Yoni Mazor 1:39
Izabela Hamilton 1:39
It's very, very tiny, very tiny. And every time I meet somebody and they're like, Oh my god, you're born in Romania. They always say one of these two things. One, they say, Are you a gymnast? And I say no, sorry. Or they say but are you a vampire? So that question sometimes, you know, I kind of lead because there's
Yoni Mazor 1:58
Oh because of Transylvania and Count Dracula, the whole story?
Izabela Hamilton 2:01
Exactly because I am from Transylvania. So I may or may not be a vampire. That's yet to me yet to be seen.
Yoni Mazor 2:08
Now we'll kind of see if we can discover that. Okay, so I don't want to butcher the name. But Zeloi? What was the name of the village, the place again, the town?
Izabela Hamilton 2:17
Oh, Zalau, Z A L A U.
Yoni Mazor 2:19
So born and raised in Zalo Romania. You grew up there. You went to school there, junior high school, that was the whole...?
Izabela Hamilton 2:25
All of that. Yeah. And, you know, it's interesting, because when I was born, I, you know, I grew up in a communist time. And I mean, I don't know if I should say how old I am. But I was, I'm, you know, I'm there. And I was in the communist era. And I grew up, I went to school, I remember, you know, seeing the President on TV like the only time…
Yoni Mazor 2:51
Just a sign up for the listener, Ceausesco was like a king over there. He was a tyrant. And he had, I believe he built the largest house or presidential residency in the world, just you know, to be super flamboyant. So you got a chance to see him, that was probably something to be remembered. Well, how big was the town, for example, give some context, how big was it? Was it rural, was it citylike?
So no, so my town, it's surrounded by I think it's maybe like 20-30,000 people. But it was all surrounded by villages. So it's our little city, it's villages, and then you drive. And then there's another city, and then there is in the mountains. We are by a very small mountain. And that's the beauty of Romania. You have mountains everywhere, and valleys and lakes. And it's very, very pretty. But I was saying, as I was saying, you know, I grew up in that era. So in my head, I didn't know there was other countries out there. So the way, you know, the way we were kind of held down..I was young. I was..
Yoni Mazor 3:55
Of course. If your world is very narrow. And that was your cosmos. This is where...this all you know.
Izabela Hamilton 3:59
Exactly, very small. And, you know, we had the communist president and you know, he wanted us to remain in Romania. Nobody gets out. He really wanted to, like build his population. He wanted us to have a million kids and to continue the legacy. And you are right, he did build the biggest Parliament House and it's huge. I went two years ago, in Bucharest and saw it and that's what he wanted. He wanted to show that he has this like, power and it's really it's really beautiful. I mean, it's beautiful story, but he was a little bit you know, uh cuckoo.
Yoni Mazor 4:34
I know it wasn't a happy ending for at the end of it, he got toppled down and got executed, I believe. And I know, you know, a whole communist, you know, a system kind of collapse. But um, so let me ask you about your parents a little bit, what was, you know, what kind of industries they were involved in, when you were growing up?
Izabela Hamilton 4:52
So my dad did construction, and he was working with like different companies and so there were a lot of Italians coming to Romania at that time, because everything was so cheap. So they wanted to like start building different things. So they would build houses and they would build warehouses and my dad somehow got connected with it, which was good because that was like our good period of time where actually my dad made some money. My mom, and almost 99% of the women in our city, they all worked in a factory. And the factory was like, a clothing-making factory and….
Yoni Mazor 5:28
Apparel, clothing. Yes.
Izabela Hamilton 5:30
Paid very little. I mean, very, very little. Worked over time, I would barely ever see my mom, I would barely ever see our dad. So I have two siblings, and all three of us like we would go to school by ourselves, we would come home by ourselves.
Yoni Mazor 5:42
Were you the youngest, oldest, the middle?
Izabela Hamilton 5:44
I’m the oldest and the smartest.
Yoni Mazor 5:49
Seems like you're also probably a pioneer.
Izabela Hamilton 5:50
Yeah, hopefully, they're not gonna listen to this one. But it's true. So you know, we all had the key around our neck, like our generation is called the generation with the key around their neck. You know?
Yoni Mazor 6:02
The one that's kind of the loop collar with all these colors. Yes. Rubber one that snaps.
Izabela Hamilton 6:09
We had out there at different designs, but he has that was one. So we all had it, we would go inside the house, we would, you know, feed ourselves, we would have to clean and we were very little but it wasn't just us. So in my head, you know, I was like, Oh my god, like, it's just something didn't feel right. Like, okay, why are we just born and all we have is to work, I barely see my parents and then I'm going to school and I'm going to get a job so I can work 24 hours and then die. Like it just seems so sinister to me, even as a young child, so I started developing this idea in my head like, there must be something else out there. So I started having conversation with my dad. And he started telling me about this place, it's called America. And basically the way he described it, Yoni, I thought like they were like rivers or honey and honey and milk. Like he described America as that. But he had never been here either, you know, impossible. Like you couldn't even go to our neighboring country.
Yoni Mazor 7:07
Yes. It was called the Iron Curtain back in the day, you know, the world that was pretty close to the eastern Eastern Bloc, Communist Bloc. Yeah. So the the notion was that America is a land of opportunities. It's paved in gold. And this is what he might have said, you know, as you're growing up, okay, so let me understand this. You did junior high, high school, you graduated, where'd you go next, after you graduated high school?
Izabela Hamilton 7:31
I finished high school and for Romania, the schools are very, very tough. I mean, they're extremely tough. So to be able to go into college, that's like with a scholarship you need to not only have perfect scores, I mean, perfect A's all throughout, but not only the score for the test, throughout your high school, too. So they would count the four years, plus the tests of the scores, plus, plus plus...a million things. So a school wasn't that like, big deal for me. I mean, I made it like I was good. Like, I liked a few things. I love math, I love psychology, but I thought that chemistry and physics and all that, so my scores weren't that high. They were just like, kind of like average, mediocre. And then when I went to the college, though, I got in, but not on scholarship, I got it with, you know, you have to pay. And there was we didn't have any money. So I stayed in my city. And I was like, you know what, that I'm going to apply to the school, they had this program in our city, it was called something about custom, like you were able to work in customs, you know, like, where they tried the passport and all this. So I was like, you know, this sounds like a great opportunity. Like, I wouldn't mind it.
Yoni Mazor 8:44
So customs you're saying like when there's a product being imported to Romania?
Izabela Hamilton 8:49
Correct. Correct. So I went to that school for two years. And one of my teachers saw that I was like, you know, quite smart. I was interested. And when we finished those two, they’re called, I think it's like professional school or something.
Yoni Mazor 9:02
Professional colleges. Yeah, for a specific industry and occupation.
Izabela Hamilton 9:05
I don't know if they have this here in the US but in Romania, it was a big….
Yoni Mazor 9:09
I think they have this for like, for the medical field when you want to be a certain assistant for radiology and machinery, stuff like that they have these special colleges. I know at least here in New Jersey they have, so yeah, good point.
Izabela Hamilton 9:18
Yeah. So I went there. And, you know, I, I was offered a position after I finished my school from my teacher, the professor that was teaching us and I started working at the local...
Yoni Mazor 9:31
What year did you graduate and start working?
Izabela Hamilton 9:33
Um, 2000...so I came here 2003. So this was in 2000.
Yoni Mazor 9:41
The year 2000. So you graduated out of that, you know, professional college and you dive into the world of imports and customs, working for the government?
Izabela Hamilton 9:49
No, so it was a local office in our city. So it was just a private business, but they had a deal with the customs so any truck that would come from Hungary or you know, Italy, or whatever it would come from, instead of going to the border, they will just let them through with a seal on the truck and with paperwork, and they will say go to the nearest the customs office was was our city. So they would come there, all the trucks and we would open the seal, we will do their customs paperwork and all this. And I really liked that I was very young. And I was starting to make pretty good money, but it was so much pressure.
Yoni Mazor 10:27
So one second, so, this is a private company that the government gives it authority to essentially handle all the processing of the customs, so you can actually validate that it's there. There's nothing, no fishy business and stuff like that. And you charge a fee for that service. So it makes it for commercial companies much faster and smoother and less bureaucracy. That's kinda the thing there?
Izabela Hamilton 10:46
Exactly 100% right. And it was fun. But I was the youngest one working, there was a lot of pressure, like you couldn't make mistakes, like, a mistake would cost us like a lot of money. And we were always under observation. It was...I had to mature really quickly, you know what I mean, to be in that position, and it was good again, it was making money, but I was working from like, 8am to like, 8pm every single day. It was a lot. It was a lot for me.
Yoni Mazor 11:15
But while you’re doing it, you’re still living in the same town? Or did you move to another town?
Izabela Hamilton 11:18
Oh, no, I was still in the same town. And I was still actually taking some classes at night. Just for some things that I wanted to learn extra. I've always been interested in studying. I've always been interested in studying how the mind works and all this. I don't know, I just had that inside of me. So um, I was working late or night. And no, I was coming out from my school, from my night classes. And I was walking home because the city you can probably walk from one side to the other in like an hour. So where I was, like, it will take me maybe 20 minutes.
Yoni Mazor 11:53
So charming. It sounds so lovely, you know, a nice town, you can walk across it an hour. There's a university, a school.
Izabela Hamilton 11:58
Everybody knows each other. You can't do anything, everybody knows what everybody’s doing. It's so true. So yeah, one night I got out of the class and I was walking home and I remember it was so cold. It was like super, super winter. And I was walking home and I just looked up at this. Like, there was a light, you know, a lamppost on the road. And I saw this little note and I was getting closer. I was like what is that? And I kid you not, Yoni, this is what it said on it: Do you want to go to America? Call this number. Freaky.
Yoni Mazor 12:36
So where your father was dripping tea the whole time, you were growing up on this, you know, this belief that America is a land of gold and honey on your way back from work you said?
Izabela Hamilton 12:47
So I worked and then I went to school. And then I was walking home tired, cold. There was...It was like, I need a miracle or something.
Yoni Mazor 12:55
And the United States of America came knocking. As an opportunity on the pole in the night and in a freezing winter in your town, a small town in Romania.
Izabela Hamilton 13:05
That is why I think either I'm special or somebody else is looking out for me because even when I look back, I'm like did that really happened to me because that's...
Yoni Mazor 13:17
Divine intervention for sure. Okay, so you saw this and what happened? What do you do with this information?
Izabela Hamilton 13:20
I took the number, it was just a number I took the number I wrote it down quickly. I ran home. I said: Dad I'm going to America. He’s like yeah, sure you're going to America. I’m like yeah, look, there's this number let's call. So we waited until the next day, we called them and they said they have their office, this company in the next city over to us and now we're away. And they told us that if I want to go to US I need to have a driving license. I need to have $1,000 which we didn’t have, all this stuff right? They wanted to make sure that we qualified before we got there.
Yoni Mazor 13:51
Well, but what was the context of sending you to America or what was the…?
Izabela Hamilton 13:57
It's an au pair. I don't know if you've ever heard it So it's like a nanny program. That's why, you know, they wanted us to have, you know, the driving license because you get to America you have to drive the kids to school and you have to do really different things. But I really wanted to go so I begged my dad. I was like please like this is my chance like this sign was for me like impossible I don't know who put it there but it's definitely for me. And it wasn't like a professional ad or nothing. It was just like...it could have been a scam. I could have been so for organs.
Yoni Mazor 14:34
Oh my goodness. Yeah, I mean, for me for my kind of instincts I would probably not believe it. I would probably keep going. But you didn't do that. That’s admirable. You took a leap of faith and thank God it worked. It seems like it worked out, we don’t know yet, but we're gonna see the story soon.
Izabela Hamilton 14:47
Yeah, I mean, I think like that happens a lot in my life. Like if I really want something somehow things just work out and they just magically appear.
Yoni Mazor 14:56
So tell me also which year did this happen to you because you started working around 2000 so this was the same year or this was further ahead?
Izabela Hamilton 15:02
No, this was in 2002.
Yoni Mazor 15:04
You're already two years into your position. You're starting a career.
Izabela Hamilton 15:08
Yes, yes. So 2002 and this was I think, November the 7th...No, I think it was like November, it was cold, it was snowing, it was already like winter. And then I went to their office and they said, you know, um, you know, this is the things that you need, just make sure that you have all this paperwork, vaccines and some other crazy things that they needed. And I was like, Dad, like, what are we going to do? $1,000? Yoni, back then, it was like somebody's salary for a year.
Yoni Mazor 15:37
In Romania, or in your town. A year worth of work just to send you? Just to apply? Or this before tickets? Like, what's the economics?
Izabela Hamilton 15:48
They had it all included, which was good. They had the visa, they had the flight, you know, sending you to the family, which was good, but still, it's like, where are you going to get $1,000 so my dad was able to, you know, borrow that for me because he didn't have $1,000 and he actually got $1100. So he paid for the program $1,000 and I went to the interview in Bucharest, it was my first time in a big city. I had never left my town. Never left my town.
Yoni Mazor 16:18
Really? 2002 was your first time in Bucharest. Wow, after college. Yeah, yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 16:25
And, you know, I got there. Like, we went on the train. And it was cool that it was like we were...we were bored like you know, we were just normal, your normal average people in Romania. So I got there. And I remember we were waiting at the embassy. And we were waiting outside and it was cold. Then every single person that would go in front of me, they would come back crying. And I was like, Oh my god, like, how am I ever gonna get the visa? Because they got denied, denied, denied.
Yoni Mazor 16:51
So you’re at the embassy, all these people coming in for a visa crying because they got denied?
Izabela Hamilton 16:56
Yes, of course, this is the opportunity of their life, like you either make it or you don't. And if they deny you, then it's very hard for you to come back. Like they would see that you were denied at this day by this place and they will always deny you. So I was like, Oh my god, oh my god, I want to go to America. And then I would be like, I will just be afraid. I'm like, Oh my god, like, what if they deny me but on the other side is like, but that sign was for me. Like I was meant to come here. So I would calm them down. And then until they called my name and like I had this hat on Oh my God, I looked terrible. My hat on. And I went like, you know, like one of those rain on a cat that you see on the street now. And they're like, so you want to go to America? Like in broken, super broken English, barely any, I'm like, Yeah. What are you gonna do there? I want to work for a family. Like, who knows what else I told him. Oh, but what do you want to do when you come back? Because the program is one year. You know, you have to return after that time. Yeah. So they wanted to see where my mind is going like, Am I going to stay over my visa and become illegal in America? Or am I going to return? I said, of course. I'm going to come back. I want to open like a kindergarten and I want to do this. And there's of course in my head. I'm like, as soon as I'm in America, adios! I'm never coming back.
Yoni Mazor 18:13
At least you’re honest about it. Now, after the fact.
Izabela Hamilton 18:16
But of course, I'm like, Yes, of course. I'm coming back. I'm gonna do. And you know what? I got accepted by some miracle. And by God's will, and you know, it was...I'm telling you, was meant for me to come to America.
Yoni Mazor 18:29
So on the spot they said, you’re good, boom, here’s your stamp. Off you go on your merry way. Okay, so this is 2002. And yeah, how quickly did you get out of town? Two months? You're probably super excited. You're probably walking on clouds.
Izabela Hamilton 18:43
I was scared. Yoni, I had never left my family. Never been. I've never even been on nothing. Like I never drove until then. Like, so I got my license. I did everything. And then I was like, Oh my god, like, in my head. I was like, so I'm leaving my family. My brother, my sister, my friends, my boyfriend. My little boyfriend. I had that, and I was like, and I don't know, when I'm gonna come back. When that feeling hits you. It's, it's like, oh my god, like, I need to, like, I cannot be a kid anymore. I can no longer ...So and oh my god, like...
Yoni Mazor 19:24
So where did you land? Where did this take you? Where are we heading to?
Izabela Hamilton 19:28
So um, first they bring you to New York. And you go to a three day orientation and they send you to whatever family that picked you. It's like they pick cattle or something, you know, like, Oh, this person here, this person here. So...
Yoni Mazor 19:42
And this was just for the New York area or they're across the United States?
Izabela Hamilton 19:44
For everyone. They go to New York. They do the orientation. They sent me to Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Yoni Mazor 19:50
Lincoln, Massachusetts. Up north. Got it.
Izabela Hamilton 19:52
Yes. And so I got to New York and I was like, oh my god like, holy cow. This is like in the movies. Imagine like a country girl, think of me as somebody, that's literally what you will. I know you have that image in your head. I'm like, I don't know what I'm doing my dad, so he borrowed the 1100 pay 1000 for the program gave me 100 bucks. Soon as I got to New York, I bought a calling card and I bought like some chips. And I had like, barely anything, because I didn't like any food on the plane. I've never been on a plane. On the plane, I couldn't eat anything. I was like, Oh my god, what is this, this is the worst. I was like, in a plane full of people that I didn't know and I was going to live with some family that I don't know. And it was a lot, it was a lot of emotions and a lot of uncertainty. But at the same time, I'm like, I know, this is my calling. I know, I am going to where I need to be and it's not going to be easy. And I landed there and somehow like I felt home you know, I really felt home, which is very, very interesting for somebody that's never even been to another country.
Yoni Mazor 20:58
Yeah, this is the greatness of you know, in the United States of America. It's just a...it is everybody. This is the world. An opportunity for anybody from every corner of the world. Literally, this isn't any place in the world that hasn't sent their people here and they found a new life and a new beginning. Okay, so you went to Lincoln, Massachusetts, you get to this family. What was the experience then?
Izabela Hamilton 21:17
Oh, my God, horrible, horrible experience. Oh, my God, of course, I had to. But you see, Yoni, when I look back, I'm like, you know what, that's a really suck. But it had to happen to make the person that I am today for sure. Oh, you know, the person, the family was so tough and rough on me. Like, they have like so many Au Pairs before me. And so I basically got there. They're like, hey, so tomorrow, you got to cook, clean. You got to take the kids to...I’ve never been on a freeway...they gave me like a Suburban or something. I've never even seen a big car like that. Okay, like I don't know, if you know, like you don't mean we have Dacia and Skodas and those little tiny cars that like you barely drive.
Yoni Mazor 21:59
Yeah, little Beetles. Yeah, where you go, you're getting this almost the size of a truck, semi trailer truck, giant Suburban.
Izabela Hamilton 22:03
Yeah, just take the car and take the kids to school. David, the little kid, will tell you how to go there. So I go on the freeway, but this is one good thing. Nobody told me that I should be scared. Imagine like to be on a freeway. Everybody that comes from overseas. They're scared of freeways here...
Yoni Mazor 22:18
So Lincoln, Massachusetts is the Boston area or is there more?
Izabela Hamilton 22:21
Yeah, it's a suburb of Boston. Yeah. And they gave me, and go, in the winter. And I was like, freaking out. I was like, I don't know what I was doing. But anyway, that wasn’t it. Like the family, they were just kind of, like mean, and you know, and I didn't know any English. I didn't know how to cook.
Yoni Mazor 22:36
On behalf of America. I apologize for this first experience. But until you’re able to uh...
Izabela Hamilton 22:41
No, it was exactly what I needed. So after three months in, it just didn't work out. And by the way, they paid...one good thing they paid for me to go to Harvard. So I went to Harvard for a semester. Not many people know that.
Yoni Mazor 22:56
What was the purpose of that? Just as a perk, just a bonus. Or they're like Harvard people, and anybody in their house has to be somehow Harvard?
Izabela Hamilton 23:04
Maybe, maybe a combination of both. But when you do sign up for this program, do they encourage the families to...so this is a cultural experience, it shouldn't be like African slave work, but you know, they use it like that, you know?
Yoni Mazor 23:18
So they combined slavery and work, but also some, you know, educational benefits on the side.
Izabela Hamilton 23:21
So they send me to Harvard, and I was like, you know, working all day and studying at night and that was hard. Um, so, you know, I mean, the breaking point was one night, the lady came after everything, you know, just bottling up, she's like, Oh, I need you to take my child to like hockey right now. It was like, 11pm. And I was like, No, I'm not gonna do that. Because tomorrow, it was the first time I ever spoke out. Until then I was like, yeah, sure, sure. You know, but then I was like, You know what, I'm tired. Like, I have to wake up at five. Take the T. I think it's called the T, right? The train? Yeah, to school. And I was like, I have to get up and she got so mad. Like, she called her husband like, I can't believe like, Izabela is not listening. Like, we need to get rid of her. And I started crying. And I was like, Oh, my God, what am I gonna do?
Yoni Mazor 24:08
The American Dream is falling apart. Yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 24:09
Yes. So um, every single person, every single nanny that comes to us, they get like a, like a counselor almost, like somebody that you can reach out to so I reached out to them and I said, you know, this is not working out. But they allow you to switch families three times. So I did you know, the first one I was...
Yoni Mazor 24:28
They’re saying three strikes and you're out? So first strike.
Izabela Hamilton 24:31
Yeah, it was so...they let you switch other families and they say hey, do you want to go back to Romania? Or you want to continue for us to find you another family? And of course it was very tempting. Imagine when everything goes horrible for you and you miss home, you miss...
Yoni Mazor 24:45
You just want to call it quits. I said, I'm out.
Izabela Hamilton 24:46
I was like, You know what? This is? This is the moment in my life where what I pick right now, it will define everything in life for me. So of course I said yeah, look for another family, I want it with all my heart with all my everything in my soul, like, I wanted to go back. But I said I cannot do this, not for me, not for my parents, not for everyone. So my goal for coming to America was nothing to do with me. It was more to do with my family, I really wanted to take them out of that poverty. And that work and that was my goal. Like this is all I wanted. I said, I'm going to go there. I'm going to make the money back to send to my father, you know, the one he borrowed. And I just want to bring my parents in America. I said, How in the world I'm going to do that if I call it quits as soon as something bad happened. So I said, No, let's push on. And they found me another family, they find me like 10 other families. One was in Chicago, one was there. One was there. One was there. And then finally, the last one I talked to, there was some...it was somebody from here, from San Diego, actually. And they had one child and the lady was so nice. And like, Oh my god, you're gonna love San Diego. And our kid is an angel. Angel!
Yoni Mazor 25:57
Quote, unquote, angel yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 25:59
Quote, unquote angel, and you're going to be great. I was like, you know, what, what do I know about California? Nothing. I know it’s sun, I know it’s fun. Let’s do it. Came to California, Yoni, in March after my birthday. My birthday is March 8. Yeah. March 8 was my birthday. And I think I came here, like end of March. And oh, that Oh, quick, quick little story about that. So you know, second time on the plane, right? I don't know anything. So from Boston, you know, Boston to San Diego. Right? So I, you know, the plane lands. I get out from the, you know, from the plane and I said, you know, can I make a call to the family. I want to make sure they're here. She's like, sure is it a local call? Of course, it is local. I gave her her number. It was like, whatever 619 number she's like, this is not local. I'm like, What do you mean is not local? She's like, Where do you think you are? I'm like, I'm in San Diego. She’s like, No, you're not. You're in Phoenix, Arizona.
Yoni Mazor 26:57
Connection, you had a connection.
Izabela Hamilton 26:58
I started...Yes. I started crying. And three of them came over, like oh, my God, you’re falling, we’ll take care of you, I was like, Oh my god, like, how are they ever gonna find me? I was lost in America. Right? Like, I didn't know. I didn't know there's connections like what do you mean? I get on the plane and when it lands I’m there right?
Yoni Mazor 27:19
So sweet. So yeah, this was a connecting flight. You had a connection in Phoenix, you had no clue what that means or what's going on.
Izabela Hamilton 27:27
I'm like, can I ever get back to them? They're like, Yeah, we got you. Like, we'll put you on the next plane. We'll call the family. Very sweet. That's like, you know what, I loved America. I loved America, from the very first moment I came here. And not a lot of Europeans can say this. They say ohhh America sucks, I don't like it. Like, I love it. Every time I needed help with something, somebody was always there for me. I didn't even have to ask. I didn't have to ask. They were always so helpful. So loving. So smiling and accepting. How can I not love this place? So I came to...so finally I landed in San Diego and I see...all I see it's like March, right? I came from like super snow to like, palm trees and hot and I was like, This is America. Now. I've made it. I will never, and this is what I said, I will never let anybody mistreat me the way that family did. Never will I allow it.
Yoni Mazor 28:20
But are you able to do that before entering the second family or after you realize that you know?
Izabela Hamilton 28:25
No no, as soon as...you know, so all this time that I was having difficulties with this family? I knew that's not me. Like I should speak up. But in my culture, they always told us don't speak up. If somebody asks you for something, you do it, you shut up, you be quiet, you keep your mouth shut, you know? Very. So you know, I had this battling, conflicting thoughts all the time. Like, you know, I didn't want to clean the cat’s pooh because it wasn't into my contract. But I had to do it. And every time they did these things,it just made me angry inside. Like, I have to keep doing, keep doing it. They gave me a curfew. I was off at 7pm I had to be in the house at 8pm. So I had one hour to do what? Walk around the neighborhood? They were literally taking advantage of me like to the fullest.
Yoni Mazor 29:09
And this is the first family? This is the Lincoln, Massachusetts family? Okay, so now we're in San Diego, California living the vibe, West Coast vibe.
Izabela Hamilton 29:17
I'm in San Diego. I'm like, you know what, I'm gonna be a boss. And I'm gonna do whatever I want to do. You know, I come and of course, you know, it takes time to really build confidence. But, you know, day after I got there, they were a nice family, but the kid was crazy. But I loved him. His name was Elliot. Very, very, very cute. And like we had a good relationship, but he had all the spoiled, like nannies that would spoil him. And I was like, No, no, no, no, no, no, we're not playing this game. So he, in the end, he loved me so much, but it was a difficult time. Um, but it does. It didn't matter because I was in San Diego. It was one kid, I was like free. They gave me a car I could drive. But once they saw that I have a little bit of freedom, they tried to pull the same, not the same thing, but kind of like, oh, now you have a curfew. And I said to them, You know what? My parents never gave me a curfew, I could do whatever I want. I'm not going to start listening to somebody else tell me what time to be home. I work for you at eight in the morning, I will be home at 759. Since that moment, they respected me. Not that I did. But from that moment, they're like, oh, okay, well, she has a personality.
Yoni Mazor 30:26
She stands alone. She's not you know, this is not servitude. This is business. This is...
Izabela Hamilton 30:31
Exactly. And every time I did little things like this, it made me grow a little more, it made me more confident. Like, okay, like I started founding, finding myself into this new land, this new country, this new continent, that...and culture, you see how very different cultures are, and how they can really mess with your brain. Because you know, I grew up thinking one thing, but then you know, you come here, and if you don't show that you stand for yourself, they will take advantage of you. And it's just because of how this country is and it’s not good or bad. It's because of the, you know...
Yoni Mazor 31:03
The reality. The reality of things. This is the evolution of the culture. So this second family, you went all the way in to complete the year?
Izabela Hamilton 31:12
Yeah, I completed the year they loved me, I loved them. I was you know, they were treating me so nicely. Here and there, we would have like disagreements but I always knew to stand my ground. So that's what I'm saying that family from the first one from Lincoln, Massachusetts, I even now I keep thinking I should send them a letter and really thank them because without them, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to come to US in the first place. Their daughter was born the same day as me, which is why they picked me so my daughter and me both were March 8. But you know, even though we had our disagreements, and they were in my life, because they had to be.
Yoni Mazor 31:49
They served the purpose perfectly, for better or worse, they served it perfectly. Okay, so let's get into the timeline. Because we could probably do a 10 episode. So 2003, end of it, you finished with the San Diego family. What was next? You were actually supposed to go back to Romania, but it seems like you're still in the United States. So what was the next station?
Izabela Hamilton 32:07
Yes. So...Oh, my God, my life is so beautiful. I'm telling you like, I mean, of course, I had bad things happen, like here and there. I mean, I got robbed. But that's another story for another episode. But the family that I stay with, they were Jewish, and I used to take the kid Elliot to the JCC, the Jewish Community Center. So there I met this amazing lady, her name is Kara. And you know, I just started having like goodwill friendship with her, like, we would go out. She was like, oh, let's go get you some juice. And she kind of like, looked at me as this poor kid that doesn't know what the hell she's doing. And she kind of took me under her wing. And we really became close friends. I said, You know what, Kara? Like, my time is up, like, I have to leave like, what should I do? She's like, you know what, don't worry about it. Come stay with me. Like she had two kids. She was divorced. She said, you know, I could use some help. You can drive my kids like, I can't pay you. But you can live with us. You can eat with us. And I was like, Oh my god, how lucky!
Yoni Mazor 33:03
She was basically adopted you in a way.
Izabela Hamilton 33:05
Yoni Mazor 33:05
When you finish your shift, you know with the whole year, umm...
Izabela Hamilton 33:09
The whole year and I'm so thankful...we’re still very, like, we're best friends still today. Like, she was like my second mom, Yoni, like how lucky and blessed am I to have met the perfect person to take me in? Like, she should be...
Yoni Mazor 33:22
Yeah, to have a second mother in America, you know you're on the right spot. That’s it, you’re good. You’re supposed to be a doctor, lawyer, businesswoman. That's all it is. That’s all the options you have.
Izabela Hamilton 33:29
She was very sweet. And like, I'm telling you, she took me in as her daughter, like fed me like I would be you know, with their kids. And she will let me do whatever I want. Like, I'm like, I'm going out. She's like, cool, take my car, if you want. Enjoy. Like, she was fun, too. And after that, so through her, she had her friends. And we went out one night, so I didn't have a job anymore.
Yoni Mazor 33:49
This was already 2004 right? So you were started moving, living there in 2004?
Izabela Hamilton 33:53
Yeah. I didn't, you know, I didn't know many people. She had her like friends. And they were all like, you know, 10, 15, 20 years older than me. And I would go out with them. I was the only one the young one like listening with them. Like, you know, I didn't have anything else to do. So we went to this restaurant bar here in San Diego. And, you know, when we got to the bar, the manager was like, you know, what do you want to drink? I was like, No, I'm good. Like, I just want to diet Coke. He’s like, really? You don't drink? I'm like, No, not really. He's like, do you work? I'm like, No, he's like, do you want to work here? I was like, Yeah, yes and no. And he's like, well, when can you start? I'm like, tomorrow. And they're like, boom, love that. But you see every single job that I ever did, Yoni, I put my whole soul. My whole soul in it. And they could see it. Like you know how hard it is to find somebody that works hard for you and for your business?
Yoni Mazor 34:41
I can identify that you are a stand-up girl. Right? Yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 34:45
Something about maybe what I said, maybe the fact that you know I was with all these people that were like drinking and I was the only one not drinking and...
Yoni Mazor 34:55
So you can focus on what he needs to do in his bar. Make money, serve and create growth for the business.
Izabela Hamilton 35:01
Yeah. So it was a combination of many things that he said, you know, we have this event planner, and she just quit today. And we need somebody to replace her. I will teach you everything. I was like, I will do anything of course. Yes. The second day, like I started working, I went there, I learned everything there was...anything about event planning. So there was an Italian restaurant very beautiful downtown San Diego called Galileo 101. Yes, in a huge tower. So I learned everything really quickly. And I'm very passionate about people, like you say, I just love like, energy. And they would call me and I'm like, yeah, I'll set up the party for you. And we'll do baby showers and weddings. And this because they had two big, like party rooms. One could fit like 300 people. So the way they paid me they were paying me $8 an hour, which was like, Oh my God, that's a lot for...Oh, by the way, I didn't mention I was making $140 a week with a family. For 40 hours work.
Yoni Mazor 35:58
600 a month, something like that.
Izabela Hamilton 36:00
Yes. So imagine going from that to $8 an hour, I was like, holy cow, I'm balling now, right. So they were giving me $8. But the other thing that they gave me, which started me on this intrapreneurship path, a little bit of a seed, they paid me commission on every single party that I sold. So every time you know, they had a party of like, 300 people, and we would add the gratuity in there that let's say it was like $1,000. Well, I was gonna get a percentage of that, I don't know if it was like $100 or $120, whatever.
Yoni Mazor 36:32
He set the action, you discovered you could have a piece of the action. And that probably fueled you to the moon.
Izabela Hamilton 36:38
100%. So I was like calling and I was doing this and they really loved that because I was making them money. And there they got a deal, $8 an hour, bless, you know, here, there's some money, but it made me realize how important that is to, to, to really create something for yourself. And this commission part really drove me and I think all entrepreneurs know this is like, okay, so the hourly, like we don't really care about that. But what is it that we can do that can make us a lot of money, because I've never liked selling my time for money. Like, I hate that even now, like it's not my thing. Even though every job that I had, I killed it, I worked my best. And so from then on, I continued working at this restaurant until other opportunities from another bigger restaurant, they discovered me, and they offered me a better deal. And I went with them. Yeah, yes. Which was a mistake. But you know, you live and learn. I didn't like them. They weren't a good fit. They were kind of mean. And it was it wasn't a good fit. But you know, I'm always trying to grow. I'm always trying to, you know, succeed. And I remember I was looking and you know, we were in downtown, and I was looking at all these people like dressed in nice suits, and, you know, their makeup done. And I was like, and they would walk into this tall buildings. And I always wondered, I was like, I wonder what it's like to like, be like a business person. Like, where are they going? Like, I would visualize and fantasize about, like, having something you know, I mean, work in a restaurant, like it wasn’t like...
Yoni Mazor 38:03
Interesting, so you see the people in those big shiny towers, so busy, wondering what is it? What's that magic that they're tapped into? And wondering, I guess, if you ever gonna get a taste of that?
Izabela Hamilton 38:13
Yes. Yeah. And, you know, I would really just...like I was visualizing coming to America, I was visualizing this life, like, what can they do? What are they doing that I could be doing? I've always wanted to know, like, what is consulting? What is this? Well, I've always had a curious mind, and how could I become that? And I, you know, I knew that I came to America. And you know, I was 21 years old, and I had barely any English. I, you know, I didn't have any college here in US. I didn't have anything to be recognized by. Well, what I had was like, This passion, I really wanted to make it and for me, I had to start at zero. So even though I was 21, I counted it as zero for me, I had to learn English, which kids do until like, two, three...
Yoni Mazor 38:57
You definitely came here at zero, you know, clean slate, you know, you had to write your story here. Okay, so I want to touch to the years now, so 2004 until which year you were in this industry, you know, I guess hospitality entertainment?
Izabela Hamilton 39:08
I think I was there until like 2007.
Yoni Mazor 39:16
About three years in the mix. 2007. What was the next station, take us there?
Izabela Hamilton 39:19
So um, I got married with my wonderful husband, and he's a Marine, actually. Uh huh, here in San Diego. And after we got married, he went to Japan. He got deployed to Japan actually.
Yoni Mazor 39:36
In 2007 Japan, we still had the wars with Afghanistan or Iraq? Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Izabela Hamilton 39:45
He had just got back from Japan before I met him and he was going to Iraq.
Yoni Mazor 39:49
Izabela Hamilton 39:50
Oh, you right. It was when everything bad happening.
Yoni Mazor 39:54
2007, actually 2007 was it was kind of when I got here to this country.
Izabela Hamilton 40:00
Yoni Mazor 40:00
Yeah, that's a topic for another episode.
Izabela Hamilton 40:03
Yeah, I would like to hear that. And, you know, he left for Iraq and it was a horrible time and I was like, you know, I like I couldn't even focus every single day.
Yoni Mazor 40:12
How soon after you got married did he leave? A few days? A minute after? What was the timeframe?
Izabela Hamilton 40:18
It was maybe six months.
Yoni Mazor 40:22
Got it. Okay. So it's short period of you know, very.
Izabela Hamilton 40:26
Not many people know this. But I met my husband in September, and we got married in October.
Yoni Mazor 40:33
30 days, you’re in? You’re good?
Izabela Hamilton 40:35
Yoni Mazor 40:37
Yeah, I know the Army, Navy guys. You know,
Izabela Hamilton 40:39
No, it wasn't even him. It was me.
Yoni Mazor 40:42
No, no. I’m saying they, they're usually okay with it. Because the life and reality is, especially if you get deployed to a war zone, you see something you like, that’s it.. You don't have to date for nine years. You got to go to work tomorrow. So,
Izabela Hamilton 40:54
Yeah, so actually you know, I asked him to marry me. And because I always, you know, what, I know what I want. And I always go for it. So there's a few. Yeah, he's like, you know, can I say no? I mean, come on. It's me. So he said, Yes. And then, you know, he went to Iraq, when I was still working at the restaurant. And I was like, you know what, this just doesn't feel right. Like that. You know, I didn't like those people and the environment, right? Yeah. And, you know, my husband is like, you don't really have to go to work, like, you know, I make enough to support the two of us. And he's like, you can, you know, waste some time or do whatever you want. And I was like, you know, what, okay, cool. I'll do that. And I started getting into real estate. I was like, you know, what, like, people dress nice. They show nice houses, like that's maybe something that I like, and I love talking to people, like, I love selling, and I can really sell something if I'm really passionate about it. Like if I believe in it, I will do it. So I started I, I went to the school. So the school was two months, I finished it. And I was like, What the hell was this? I don't understand anything. It's like a new language, like easement and this and FHA loans. And I was like, Okay, I know nothing of this. So what I did, I took the class again, and with the same guy, and you could take it as many times as you want for free. So I took it, and then I went to the exam, and I smashed it. I did so good that the professor invited me the next class he had for me to speak in front of everyone how this girl came from Romania. She had no English and you know, she could do it. You guys can all pass it because it was very hard. It's a state exam. That thing is hard. Then again, something by some magic, I got connected with this guy who had a boutique real estate firm. And he's like, just come work with me and I start working with him. We split everything half. I was making so much money, like the most I ever made in one day was $79,000 in one day.
Yoni Mazor 42:53
Unbelievable. And this is what 2007 or 2008 already?
Izabela Hamilton 42:55
Oh, yeah, it was like 2008, 2009.
Yoni Mazor 42:58
2008 was the hottest moment before the boom went down. Right? So something happened. I have a feeling it’s related. So yeah, like on the top of the world.
Izabela Hamilton 43:05
I was killing it. And I didn't want salary. I was like, nope, we're not doing salary, nothing. I want to prove my own thing. And we were doing property management. And we were doing rentals, and we were doing sales at everything we did. So if he did a deal, he was slid half with me, which is interesting. No company would ever do that. They usually, you know, they just either let you do your own thing, or they take a percentage, but they don't touch it.
Yoni Mazor 43:27
Like you mentioned, this was more like boutique, it was high end.
Izabela Hamilton 43:31
Yeah. Yeah. It was just me and him and he still works there. And he is 94 years old. Yeah, he's killing it still.
Yoni Mazor 43:43
And what was the next station after that, take us...was there a crash and burn or something?
Izabela Hamilton 43:45
No. You know, everything was good. I was making money. I got my first Mercedes because you know, I'm European. You know, I have to have my European car.
Yoni Mazor 43:53
You coulda got a Dodge or Dacha, whatever it's called.
Izabela Hamilton 43:57
I'll buy it in the future and save it.
Yoni Mazor 44:01
You could buy the whole company. It's okay. If you buy the whole manufacturing the whole brand for a couple of 100 million or 2 billion and you'll be good to go. You'll be a tycoon.
Izabela Hamilton 44:09
Oh, hopefully I could do that one day. But no, I was doing really good. And my husband calls me one day he's like, guess what, we need to move to South Carolina. I was like what? My heart broke. I was like, What do you mean? South Carolina? Where? What? South Carolina What is that? What language are you speaking?
Yoni Mazor 44:28
You probably said, you mean South California? We’re already here. South County. San Diego, we’re already here.
Izabela Hamilton 44:33
So he's like, you know, you can stay here and continue making money or you can come with me and again, I had to make a decision. If I stay here, I will no longer ever be with my husband again. Because what relationships work, you know?
Yoni Mazor 44:45
Family life. The decision between work and life. But hold on, which year was that? This was what year when he told you that?
Izabela Hamilton 44:53
Um, it was 2008.
Yoni Mazor 44:58
So a year plus into your Real Estate, you know, industry success? He said...
Izabela Hamilton 45:03
Very successful. Killing it, making...I've never thought it possible to make so much money.
Yoni Mazor 45:11
So you settled in South Carolina. What? Charleston? Buford? Never heard of that.
Izabela Hamilton 45:17
Exactly. Nobody heard of it and probably till the rest of history nobody will hear of it. It's, it's...
Yoni Mazor 45:22
Got it. So you I guess you said yes? And you left that industry?
Izabela Hamilton 45:24
Yes. I said, What am I going to do? You know, I have to follow my husband and I got there. There was absolutely nothing to do. There was one Walmart in the whole town, me and my Mercedes.
Yoni Mazor 45:36
That’s pretty much the way America works, you know, this middle of America, you got Walmart, and
Izabela Hamilton 45:40
We had to go from, you know, from where I was in Buford, South Carolina to Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia to go to the mall. Like we didn't even have a mall where I was.
Yoni Mazor 45:49
So a different state even. But yeah, oh, hold on. So let's try to fast forward a few moments here to 2008 South Carolina, take us a few stations on because I have a feeling that you guys piled around a little bit.
Izabela Hamilton 46:01
Yeah. So we were there for two years, and then two or three years, and then in 2010, we were offered this position to go to Africa. And I was like, I'm leaving South Carolina, anywhere.
Yoni Mazor 46:15
Really? You went to Africa?
Izabela Hamilton 46:17
Went to Africa to Rwanda. Have you ever been?
Yoni Mazor 46:21
Yeah, yeah. So before that? Before Rwanda? So two years, what did you do in South Carolina? Just chilled or you know, something?
Izabela Hamilton 46:24
Of course I can never chill. So I went to the University of South Carolina and I was studying computational science. And yeah, it was...
Yoni Mazor 46:36
Out of the ordinary, but it's very, you picked up another layer of, you know, skills.
Izabela Hamilton 46:40
And yeah, I really liked that. It was very interesting. And I wanted to continue that. It was very new program for the university. But we moved to Rwanda. And there is no such program online. There is nothing like that.
Yoni Mazor 46:54
They were online in Rwanda back in 2010?
Izabela Hamilton 46:56
So yes, there was a school that I found that was actually connected with the military. It's called American Military University, very good school. It's just an online school. But of course, they didn't have these fancy degrees. So what did they have like just the regular stuff? I was like, Okay, I need to finish my college. Because this was one of my goals that I've had from Romania. I was like, I want to go to America. I want to have a college degree because it was like, you know, back then...
Yoni Mazor 47:20
Yeah, the basics. The real basic, you know, basic American, and for the most part, this is their aspiration, and dream and you want to at least have you know, that checked in your, your bill.
Izabela Hamilton 47:30
Exactly. So I was like, I need to finish my class. I did accounting. Finished my accounting degree. Of course, perfect days, like perfect score. I know nothing of accounting, like, nothing. Like I have a bookkeeper, a CPA and a tax attorney. They're all working for me like non stop. And I'm like, I don't want to deal with that. It's too much.
Yoni Mazor 47:52
In Rwanda, how long was you guys stay there?
Izabela Hamilton 47:54
Oh, we were there for a year and a half. In Kigali, Kigali. K I G A L Kigali. This is where the genocide happened...
Yoni Mazor 48:07
The Tutsis...Hutus and Tutsis, right? Something like that? Yeah, terrible back in the 90s. Okay. Yeah, a year and a half. So you come back to the States?
Izabela Hamilton 48:17
No, no, no. So I actually started working at the embassy there. And I was working...like, I got my top secret clearance. Like I was in a mix with like, Ambassadors..
Yoni Mazor 48:26
Look at you, working for the American government.
Izabela Hamilton 48:28
Oh, yeah. I was like, in the mix. I was like, Okay, I can get used to this life. We had a driver. We had a cook. We had anything you can picture. We didn't have kids then. So like, everything that you wanted, you had out of your feet. I was like, What is this world? And how can we continue being diplomats? We even got the blue passport? You know, the? I don't know. Yeah, it was just the diplomat passport. Basically, you could go anywhere, at any time without any questions asked, like you had that you were golden. So from there, um, we were given another station. And that was Burma. Myanmar. And we were there. Same thing for about a year and a half. And the same thing, I applied for a job there, worked at the embassy, worked at the IT department and I was basically the connection between the ambassador and the US office and I was carrying like top secret material. And it just felt so mysterious. And it was so cool. And I was like important and also...Yes, I really loved it. But that's not to say every single job that I had, I was just like yes. Like I was going with the trucks from the embassy, you know the bulletproof ones from the embassy to the airport. So every time we got a package from US, which is how I got into Amazon because Amazon was the only one that was sending packages to our stations. We will drive all the way on the tarmac and every time we will see our package come from the plane. We will pick it up. Put on our truck drive to the embassy, they were not allowed to touch our stuff. You know, because we had guns. We had like, all kinds of different things for the military. So and I was part of that, like, you know, every Tuesday, I think we would go and wait. And it was like, I tell you what's so cool.
Yoni Mazor 50:18
Super cool, super rare for anyone to have this experience yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 50:19
I loved Asia. I love the culture. I love the people. I used to fly to Thailand once a month to just relax at this fancy five-star hotel Conrad and overlooking, like, the whole downtown like, I lived the life. Let me tell you, it was...and I was making money for something that I love. You know, I mean, it wasn't like real estate money. But it was like, oh, government money, which is by the way, it's not a lot.
Yoni Mazor 50:43
Yeah. But in Asia and Myanmar, it's probably more than enough.
Izabela Hamilton 50:48
But also Oh my God, I didn't even have to touch it. Because what I didn't tell you is that they give you like a house for free. Yeah, they put you in like the best place possible. Because my husband was like the head of the military there. You get a driver, you get everything you want. I'm telling you, I was like, this is life but I did miss America.
Yoni Mazor 51:08
Now I want to package a few things here. Or unpack a few things here. So this is right in the 2013 right timeframe, where I guess e-commerce came knocking, you know, as an opportunity on your door. And it started in Asia in Myanmar. Like you touched it a little bit. Yes. So this is this is now I want to open this up because you know, at least where you are now. So take us there take us into your journey into e-commerce.
Izabela Hamilton 51:32
So um, the way I got to, you know, I was trying to like order like shoes and stuff online because I was trying to be cute and I couldn't find anything because, you know, living overseas is not like living here. You...we take for granted everything we have here we take for granted that you can go to like Target and buy your face moisturizer, whatever you use, you don't have that there. They have their own culture, they have their own stuff. So, you know, I was trying to order things online and any place that I ordered, like Nordstrom or Walmart or whatever, none of them shipped. None, they just wouldn't ship even though we had the US PO box, they just couldn't do it. Amazon was the only one. So every time like I was like, whatever I wanted, like anything you could think of like books or, um, you know, you name it.
Yoni Mazor 52:17
So it was Amazon where you access to the United States all the way across the world. It was the hatch-in. Yeah, I got you.
Izabela Hamilton 52:27
It was my only tunnel. My only clear connection. And I was like, What is this company doing that the other companies are not? Like, it really got me interesting. I know I have this, like curious, you know, thing about me. And I was like, I want to know why, like, what makes them great. And then I just started looking and I was like, Oh, you know, is Amazon selling all the products? Like I didn't know, I thought Amazon was just this whole big thing. And they just have a lot of products. I didn't know there was 3rd party sellers or people like me and you can sell. And then slowly I kind of like peeling back the, you know, the information. I was like, You know what, this is actually really cool. So I was like, Okay, well, I wonder if I could do like what is there that I need to do that I could be doing so but it was kind of like running at the back of my mind. Like I still had my work. I was doing good. But I kept looking at it. Like it was still something that you just kind of like with America, just something that attracted me, you know. And then in 2014, we came back to US and we moved to Newburgh, New York.
Yoni Mazor 53:28
Upstate New York, West Point, you know.
Izabela Hamilton 53:31
Exactly by West Point. So we got there and I...now I was back and I was like okay, what am I gonna do? I did get a job in West Point actually still working for the government. Just like a very small admin position. But it wasn't like, you know, oh my god, it wasn't filling my soul. So I kept I kept getting, you know, kept getting attracted to Amazon. And the final point came when this guy that I knew from Europe, just a friend of my acquaintances, that said, you know what Izabela, I know, you're back in US, like we kept contact over the years. You know, my dad has this light bulb factory. We're thinking of putting it on Amazon. Have you heard of it? Like, do you know how it works? I said, you know,
Yoni Mazor 54:14
You said light bulbs?
Izabela Hamilton 54:18
Light bulbs. And he said, you know, maybe something that you can look into for us. You know, we're...I think they were in Ukraine, and he said, You know, you're there. Maybe, you know, you can call them faster if we need information. I was like, sure. I'm down for a challenge. So we...so I started helping him. How could I help him? Um, you know, we looked at the listings for the other people, I created the listing for them, probably very bad because I've never done a listing but I just looked at what the other people were doing that were selling light bulbs. Like I have to get information from him. Like what kind of, I don't know what kind of light bulbs, there's different kinds, like I don't even know the difference. He's like, Oh no, this is like 200 or whatever, I don't even know. Yeah. So that they will tell me and then they send the pictures and we just put it up there and it just took off. Like, I mean, this was, What year are we? 2021? 2015? So yeah, like six, seven years ago, so much easier so much easier.
Yoni Mazor 55:19
It was a hungry machine. Still is a hungry machine, but you felt like whatever you give it, it just eats any product you give it to eat. Just, you know it eats and eats and eats. Yeah.
Izabela Hamilton 55:27
And I really loved that. And I was like, Oh my god, there's something to this. So he said, you know, Izabela because you know, we're here, we are not able to track the products. Do you think you can have some of your friends give us feedback, like ordering the products and see if it comes with a correct wrapper? If it comes in bubbles, like, we just want to get some information? Because it was very hard for them to like, you know, do this connection between Europe and US. I was like, Sure. So I...
Yoni Mazor 55:53
So hold on, let’s talk about logistics for a second. Right. So this is a manufacturer, based out of Ukraine. You're in the US?
Izabela Hamilton 55:59
Well they were...Yeah, they were doing some things in Ukraine. But there were some parts of it from China, they were somehow mixing it. So they would send it to Amazon. They didn't always know, you know, I don't think they knew back then.
Yoni Mazor 56:14
They sent it to Amazon through the fulfilment centers. FBA. So they're using FBAs. So wherever they're sourcing around the world, light bulbs, they’re sending them to FBA. They tell you create the listings for us, pretty much manage the sales, manage the platform for us. Okay, from all this management what I mean, what, what gave birth to RankBell?
Izabela Hamilton 56:30
So, um, you know, so he said, you know, do you think you can have, like some of your friends order and act like they were normal shoppers, we want to see how Amazon handles it. Again, you know, we're all just trying to find out what, what is Amazon doing at that point? So I was like, yeah, of course. He's like, Don't worry, like, I'll give them the money back. Like, they don't have to, like pay for anything. I really just want them to test it. So I found it like five people, like 10 people, my friends, and they would order and say, we will take pictures like hey, you know, this box came all smashed, like you need
Yoni Mazor 57:01
Essentially a QC quality check, right? What’s the quality? What’s going on?
Izabela Hamilton 57:05
We didn't really know. We were just literally going with the flow, right? So we kept doing that. And you know, he would do it better. He would call the the factory and say, Hey, you need to maybe package it better. You need to do a drop test, whatever it was back then, until we perfected it. So he had a certain amount of units at Amazon. And we kept testing with him. He's like, Oh, do you think you can have somebody else? Like, I think now we're better. And they did get better every time. But what we realized is like, every time we did this orders, his ranking went up. So if he was like on page two or three, whatever, quickly he would go on page one and like he would have all these sales. And we're like, Okay, wait, there's something to this, because every time somebody places an order, you end up going higher and higher and higher. And he said, Izabela, you know, I have a friend that, you know, he wants to do the same thing on Amazon with the different products. I think it was like toe rings or something that's something that you put between your toes for like better walking, I don't know some weird stuff. Okay. And he's like, do you think you can help him? I was like, Yeah, of course. He's like, and he's gonna pay you I was like, what? He's gonna pay? This was my friend like, you know? I was just like, you know, toying with the idea of making money online. I didn't know. I looked at all..
Yoni Mazor 58:21
So you’re trying to say that until then you were just helping a friend out. Once again, this gave birth to economic opportunity for you...
Izabela Hamilton 58:29
Which was very good because it didn't put any pressure on me. See, had I been paid maybe I would have had a different...But you see, everything happens the way it should. Like it happens so smoothly, just like...
Yoni Mazor 58:39
So you just give from yourself. You just, you know, surrender to this opportunity. Just get from yourself. And all of a sudden this opportunity came back giving you a track to build something that is truly unique, your own that you own it, and reach hopefully a lot of success. So take us there to those moments.
Izabela Hamilton 58:53
Yeah, so the next day, he's like, do you think you can have my friend like, he has this product? And, you know, he was almost embarrassed as he said, but don't worry, like he'll pay you? And I was like, sure. He's like, how was $600? And I'm like, holy cow. Like $600 I'm gonna get me some shoes like and you know, it's like Internet money is not really real money. You know, for me, it was like,
Yoni Mazor 59:14
For doing nothing, he’s paying me Wow, is this the feeling?
Izabela Hamilton 59:18
Yeah, we did it. We went through the same process. Boom, again, we will do that. See my dog sorry, in the backyard. We would do the product ordering. Next thing you know, product is on page one with like, the worst pictures ever. Start selling. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Both of them. I think they're still killing it till today, like multimillionaires. And there. They send me to another guy and to another guy. And then next thing you know, I had so many clients that I needed more buyers for. So we transferred that from like, hey, do my listing because I wasn't really...like that wasn't my thing. But what I was good at was people. I was like, Oh, you need people. I'll find you buyers. What do you need? Oh, I need to do like I need you to check on like 50 products and I have this product and this product, then do you think they would even send it to my house? Do you think you can track it? At one point, I have so many boxes. My husband was like, What is going on? What are you doing? Why do we get...Don't worry? I'm like, they're free. I promise you, they're free. They're free. What kinda mafia thing are you going through right now? Like, this is not okay, what are you doing? And probably still today, my parents are like, they don't know how I make money. I think they're like, we just see you make money. And we don't know what you're doing. But I, you know, I tell them, it's all legal, and you know, nothing to go to jail for. So next thing, you know, it's like, I have all this people. So what I started doing with my buyers, I said, Hey, guys, like, you know, there's only a handful of us, but we're growing. So I started doing this referral program for them. But you see, it's all like, I've never had specialized training in this thing. It was just like, literally day by day by day, what I was doing daily life and me thinking, Okay, so what is the next step? I need more buyers? Hey, guys, do you think you can tell your friends and your friends friends, and I would give them incentives, and I give them money. And then, you know, I started getting paid, like per order, right? Then they're just like, for a job. And, you know, I started making like, $3 a unit and then it was like $5. And of course, now we're at 15. But we have like a full team, we have operations. And, you know, we we service, and we have like hundreds and hundreds of sellers. And we've done 1000s and 1000s of products that you can't even imagine what we done from like, literally A to Z. But you see, that's why I think, you know, it really was meant for me to do this because it's the perfect opportunity for me because I love people. So I...on one side, I was helping the sellers, like create these multimillion dollar businesses. But on the other side, I had all these buyers who were getting free stuff, they were getting free stuff. And even till today, I get messages like this one lady a week ago, messaged me and she said, you know, Izabela, I have to tell you something like I really thank you. You know, last year, not only like, you know, you, you gave us so much, but I was able to help seven families she adopted for Christmas.
Yoni Mazor 1:02:09
So I wanna help you here to understand. So essentially the sellers, the Amazon third party sellers, you connect them with a group of consumers, okay? So these consumers, you have a whole, you have a whole infrastructure right now for these consumers. And these consumers are able to buy the products on Amazon. And by simply buying, let's say you lose your product, you get 50 consumers to buy it, make 50 orders and buy, but that alone, it spikes the position on the platform for these products. And then because having higher position, it's a snowball effect that keeps keeps selling more and more and more. So that helps the seller, but then the flip side and the consumer who bought it eventually you, you credit them, right, they get a credit. So essentially, they just buy the unit, they get a free product, that's it, that's where it starts, that's where it ends. So a seller gets the opportunity to improve the ranking. And hopefully, if they have a good solid product, they'll stay there and prosper. If not, that's already their problem. But the consumers, they can engage as a community, they're interested in more maybe baby products or toys, or whatever it is, you have the opportunity to simply get free products, help another business grow. And this creates like a beautiful storm of, of giving and helping and growing together.
Izabela Hamilton 1:03:14
And it's the perfect thing for me, because that is my personality like all I want to do is help everyone. Like everybody that knows me that are close to me, they know this is like a passion of mine. And, you know, like it has definitely has something to do with the fact that I grew up very poor. And, you know, I've always knew how important it is that if somebody gave me a gift, like I remember when I was little like, it really touched my soul. Like wow, like I started really appreciating that. So when I had the opportunity to be this liaison between like this brands who are trying to build their name, and they're willing to give their products out for these testers, and these people who you know, may not have money to like buy gifts for their kids for Christmas.
Yoni Mazor 1:03:57
That's phenomenal. That's, that's really part of the American magic that you are right now and part of by just you know, having your own business and owning this whole process. Okay, so I extremely thank you for you know, the entire story has been wow. There are no other words besides wow. So I want to kind of package it so and touch on the last parts of the episode. So let's see if we got this all correctly born and raised in Romania. Once again, the name of the town is? Zalau. Okay, and then very local, very rural in Transylvania, you finish school, and then you take a little bit of a kind of professional college. In the year 2000, you start working in the customs industry in Romania, for about two years. In 2002, you finish work, you go to school, on away from school, you see a pole, America comes knocking in the form of this, you know, phone number, and then you fly to the United States and around the year 2003. Essentially, you were already in the United States working as an au pair for families 2004 after you did your whole year. You met a lady at the JCC. She basically hosted you, gave you a platform or places to live. And you find a way into the industry of, you know, dining, entertainment and hosting. And then you did that all the way until about 2007 until you got married. And then you entered into the real estate world for about a year from 2007 to about 2008, made a crazy ton of money. And in the peak of the industry before kind of collapsed 2008-2009 actually was a big meltdown. But then in 2008, moved to South Carolina, you know, for about two years, you spent a little time there doing some education. And then you got you went outside the United States. Nevertheless, outside of the United States working for the United States, which is a crazy combination. I did some time in Rwanda, also some time in Myanmar, and over there, of all places, e-commerce came knocking at your door, in the form of you realize that Amazon is something that is so powerful, so global, so helpful, then you started dabbling into it. And then 2015 by having, you know, being back in the United States, having friends from overseas telling you help us, you know, with this platform, that drew you more and more into what's going on and discovering all these elements that are very useful and helping businesses to grow. And from that alone, he created this whole infrastructure, this whole business that you know, only taking leadership in this position, helping so many others, their clients, their consumers, probably your community, your environment, that I get it right so far?
Izabela Hamilton 1:06:27
Wow, I must say your memory is sharp, I wouldn't have remembered all of that.
Yoni Mazor 1:06:33
You said, you know, so you do remember it. So we did okay, you did.
Izabela Hamilton 1:06:36
But if you told me yours, I'll be like, wait this year this year? Like, no, you? Yes, you gotta right. And, you know, I appreciate you doing this. And you know, walking me down the memory lane, because you know, there are things that I don't think of every day, and you just brought me back.
Yoni Mazor 1:06:50
Refreshing it and hearing it out is really the opportunity that we hope for when we have our guests in. So thank you so much for all that. Okay, so now I want to unpack I guess, package the episode and go to the next stage which will be touching two points. The first one will be is this of course, if somebody wants to reach out, learn more about you and connect, where can they find you. And the last thing will be is what is your message of hope and aspiration as if it wasn't enough, but the last touches on that last message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there.
Izabela Hamilton 1:07:17
Thank you. So you can find me on Facebook, very easy, Izabela Hamilton, or at www.rankbell.com. And my message for everyone listening is, you know, if you have something that you really truly want in your soul, and you know for a fact that, you know, you are meant to do it, go for it. And I know it sounds so simple. But, you know, for me in Romania, I don't think there was ever going to come a way for me to come to America. But even so I didn't lose hope. And when you have such a strong wish, I promise you guys I with all my heart, I promise you that the universe will revolve around you to make that happen. There was no way I would have seen that message on a pole just for me to come to America, there is no way somebody offered me a job just like this. There was no way this lady who didn't know me invited me to live with her in her house. Every single thing that happened in my life is because I visualize that even though he may not have been the exact way like I didn't know how I was going to come to America, but I knew I was going to come. I knew it's so deep in my heart that if you came and said Izabela, I'm going to bet you a million dollars or the life of your whole family or something crazy. I would say I will take that bet because I know what I want. And once you know that, and you truly believe that, don't let anything else, every other outside noise. Just ignore and follow the path and it's as simple as that.
Yoni Mazor 1:08:47
Beautiful, beautiful. Before we go, regarding your family, are they in the United States or are they still in Romania?
Izabela Hamilton 1:08:53
My family is here. And on top of that I bought them the next door house to me so literally from my house, I open the gate and it's my parents
Yoni Mazor 1:09:02
Beautiful guys, I'm gonna end with this: dreams do come true. And this is the reality of things. Thank you so much, everybody, stay safe and healthy. Until next time.
Izabela Hamilton 1:09:09