“I came here with a normal American dream,” Dilyara Daminova begins. While Dilyara says that her dream was “normal,” her path to America was anything but ordinary.

Dilyara grew up in Crimea in a family struggling to overcome poverty. While her parents were both well-educated, jobs were short, leaving Dilyara’s family struggling to put food on the table.

“I remember a time a mouse got into a bag of rice we had and did her number two all over the rice. My mom had to clean it out and wash it and prepare food because we had no money,” Dilyara recalls.

Challenging beginnings allowed Dilyara to build her own skills from an early age. At 12 years old, she started selling at the local farmer’s market to help her family. “I ended up helping women at farmer’s markets so we could buy bread. It was a very good practice,” she explains.

Then, at 17, Dilyara’s world was turned upside down.

“I found out that I was swapped at birth and was growing up with a different family. I found out my parents live in a different country and are extremely rich. So I went from being very poor and then got into a very rich family.”

Dilyara moved to Uzbekistan, where her father owned several businesses. “I ended up getting to work with my dad and learn from him,” Dilyara says. “One thing he told me, and it became my credo in life, is always tell people what they want to hear. No matter how much you’re going to prove to people that they are not right, they are not going to hear it. They are just going to disagree with you.”

By age 23, Dilyara had become a successful businesswoman in Uzbekistan. That year, she won a green card to move to the U.S.

“I thought, ‘If I can succeed in Uzbekistan, I will be successful in the U.S., no doubt,’” Dilyara explains. “But I came here, and I ate dirt. I didn’t speak English at all. I couldn’t find a job. I remember I went to Cici’s Pizza, and they wouldn’t even give me a job cleaning tables.”

Dilyara devoted her time to learning English. Within a year, she landed her first job at a Babies R Us.

“I went through all sorts of jobs,” Dilyara explains. “My goal was to work in an office environment in D.C.” She eventually landed work with the Department of State and Human Services, her first of a few office jobs.

“I thought my dream came true — office job, good salary. But I had an office with no windows, just cubicles. I was working morning until night. I realized I’m not an office person. That’s when I got my [real estate] license.”

That was in 2014. It would take Dilyara another three years to devote herself to real estate fully. She, like many before her, struggled with the fear of leaving her steady paycheck behind. With a family at home, it was a lot to overcome. Thankfully, her husband, Sam, encouraged her to stick with real estate.

“After 12 months in real estate, I only closed one deal. Because I owed office fees, mentors fees, I didn’t even see a check. I didn’t even cover the fees,” Dilyara says. “But Sam wouldn’t let me give up.”

Since then, Dilyara has been recognized as an NVAR TOP Producer, NVAR Platinum Award winner, Samson Properties Top Agent, and was named to the Top Producer’s list by Northern Virginia Magazine. She will close over $22 million in 2019.

“It’s been all about finding my own way of doing the business, being different from other agents, not being afraid to challenge myself to new ways of finding clients,” Dilyara says. “Not being afraid to fail if it doesn’t work.”

At home, Dilyara and Sam have four living children — John (17), Milana (7), Samuel, Jr. (2), and Oliver (3 months). They tragically lost their daughter Olivia when she was three-and-a-half months old. “She is a part of our family forever. I am a lucky mom of five kids,” Dilyara says with a smiling, but heavy heart.

Family is first on Dilyara’s list of priorities. She doesn’t aspire to get rich, but rather to spend more quality time with her family. That’s been one of the biggest blessings of her move to real estate.

“[Success is] being able to manage to see my kids any time in the day, being able to eat almost daily lunch with my husband. My quality of life is better…I am able to spend more time with my husband and kids while making four times more money than I made when I worked in the office environment. I can win and lose. I can try my limits. I am free. No one tells me what to do and when to do it. I do as much or as little business as I want. I work without working because real estate is my lifestyle, not just a job.”