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Meet Melina Nmili of Lalla Bee in Medford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melina Nmili.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Melina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a small town girl from the Dominican Republic. I grew up in Los Llanos a town where everybody knew everyone and even the town’s known homeless watched out for you. It was a very sheltered world; I was raised by my grandmother and a bunch of other women who went to stay at her house so they could attend school, my mom was off working and going to college. My grandmother used to make my clothes. Sunday dresses, school uniforms – very simple but well put together dresses, so I guess this has been my style since I was a child and it is the pattern I follow when I design today. I was always very quiet but I always also had a lot of opinions, most of which I kept to myself. Mostly I observed and listened. The road from there to launching my own fashion line has been a long one. I don’t come from money and when I was 12 I had to join my mother in the US as I had become very ill. While I had many dreams around fashion I knew I needed an education and that this would be my way to freedom, when I say freedom I mean freedom to later choose different paths in life Boston has been home since I left DR, I went to school here, met my husband here and work in corporate in addition to running my business: Lalla Bee.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitively not. I know it sounds like a cliché but there have been times where I have failed and thought “man giving up would be so much easier”. There have been times where I have struggled to pay bills, where everything comes in at once… and this is not unique to me. Anyone financing their own business knows what is like to have to prioritize bills and what those first two or three years are like. One of the things that was probably one of the most difficult was having to – or actually believing I had to explain that this was something I could do. I’ll explain – I have a job in a completely different industry and it brings much satisfaction to my life. I’m passionate about it because I get to work with incredibly smart people, it allows me to learn and develop myself while also allowing me to teach, coach and mentor other young professionals. As my fashion line gained more notoriety for some reason some people in my network questioned my ability to do both or maybe it was my ability to care and be passionate about two different industries. This was hurtful and I am not going to lie I took it very personally because I felt my integrity was being questioned. I always tried very hard to keep all worlds separately – but you know I got to a point in my life where I stopped and thought “wait a minute this is preventing me from living my life to the fullest. I don’t have to hide all that I feel I want to give.” I have come to the realization that I am not responsible for other people’s own insecurities.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Lalla Bee – what should we know?
I love this question! Lalla Bee was launched (officially) in 2015 but the business has been in place and I have been working on it since 2011. Lalla Bee is a line of dresses – from cocktail to special occasion and while I don’t necessarily follow trends I am always chasing that classic timeless elegance that I saw in my grandmother’s creations. To me just like confidence, fashion doesn’t have to be loud to be beautiful. My goal is to be a compliment to that woman who regardless of how many of life’s struggles she has had to go through she has done so beautifully with class and grace.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I have learned so much throughout this journey. At the beginning I spent a lot of money because I thought I had to listen to everyone and their mother – I would tell my younger self to trust my instincts more. I would have made more people sign agreements lol… but you live and learn!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos were taken by Federica Dall’orso Make up and hair: Norah Salazar

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