WITH YN FRIEND, SASHA DER AVANESSIAN OF HARVEST DENTAL
“Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.” - Brene Brown, TED Talk Speaker, Research Professor, Expert on Vulnerability, Courage, Authenticity and Shame
In today’s Biz Talk, Habib talks to Sasha Der Avanessian, Founder and CEO of Harvest Dental, about how to build a brand. Sasha goes through the importance of understanding who you are as a brand, setting the right price point, and reaching people who recognize your value. On its face, it might seem unclear what commonalities are shared between a manufacturer of dental products and a manufacturer of nail care products. The answer is that at our common core, we all share the desire and obsession with business building. It’s important to surround yourself with inspiring yet relatable success stories. The spirit of the entrepreneur’s journey, the act of growing something from nothing, is a story every nail tech can relate to. Enjoy these key take-aways from Harvest Dental’s methodically slow paced brand growth.
BEGINNINGS IN A TWO CAR GARAGE
The starting point of the Harvest Dental story, is a modest one fifteen years in the making. Over the years, having traveled across the valleys of insecurity; facing doubts over whether I am doing this the right way; or questioning whether I am growing fast enough...you come to know yourself and your business well. In 2004, I took a slight detour from my father’s business dental laboratory business manufacturing artificial teeth. I grew up in his lab and I remember him telling me that he made smiles for a living. It was so important to hear that and I knew it was something that I wanted to do too; but ventured into the manufacturing side instead. I witnessed the struggles he faced in the lab and specifically associated with a sole focus on the pricing and promotion of the product. This is something I refer to as the race to the bottom.
RACE TO THE BOTTOM
There is a territory that you come to find in business if you don’t define who you are and why you do what you do. It’s a winding road downward where competitors are jostling for position, throwing elbows, and trying to manipulate the market with a singular focus on price or product promotions. This is an unwelcoming place for the entrepreneur and it’s a place to avoid. In this territory, there is no true value exchanged; no personal connections made. When you take the time to steer clear of the race to the bottom, you can then choose to focus on slowly building your brand. Young Nails is a great example of this. When you love what you do, the point of the arrow is providing value. The thing that defines you in the marketplace is offering something more valuable than the actual thing that you do.
THE POWER OF NO
We live in a marketplace that is being driven by manipulation. When it comes to building a strong brand, battling in price points are the biggest temptation. It is very tempting to lower your prices just to get business. I think of it like this childish tactic of early relationships, “Give me a piece of candy and I’ll be your best friend.” It’s an attempt to lower the risk of the transaction. Building the brand is knowing that not everyone is going to be your customer. It’s more about saying No; then saying Yes.
FEAR GROUP VS PEER GROUP
You have to know yourself, your brand, your WHY in order to know when the right time is to say Yes. You have to build your brand and market to the edges and NOT the masses. Build something beyond the status quo. My greatest revelation is knowing that just because someone buys from me doesn’t mean they are my
customer. Ultimately it hinges upon value recognition. It is reaching the people who recognizes that what you offer has value. The brand must relay the message about your WHY. WHY do you exist in your business? If your nail salon is over tomorrow? What do you want your customers to remember about you when you’re gone? It’s about becoming a relationship that you cannot afford to lose and that is “the brand”. Your brand, it’s a DNA connection, a part of your family where you share the same beliefs. People are insecure by their nature. We communicate the things we’re the most confident about. It’s what we do; not who we are. The key is making that transition. Ask yourself, what are you, yourself, attracted to and why? Develop a self-awareness. Call that out by journaling and writing these things down. A great way of doing this and finding what your brand alignment is to see what is in your closet. It’s a Discovery Process.
CURIOSITY AND TRUTH
I always consider myself student, not an expert. Everything, I view as part of the journey. I’m much like your nail tech audience or any business owner seeking out the truth. You encounter a nugget of truth that sets you on a journey of further discovery. You want to know more about where it came from and you go down the rabbit hole. You continue to add to that nugget and you discover that you’ve developed a methodology; something that you can stake your future on.
If you’re not looking for something; you are not going to find it. Bottom line: the truth reveals what is false. You do this in your YN work with content production. You throw a few experiments up on the wall and see what sticks. The same thing with branding. You need a sense of discovery. You don’t need a lot of money to build a brand. The main thing is that it’s a long build. It took me 8 years to reach a million dollars in revenue. There are companies that started out at the same time (as we did). They were probably doubling or tripling their year over year sales book but where are they now?
I am a brand enthusiast. When I had the inception and vision to start a dental laboratory products company, I already knew the kind of company that I wanted to be. I knew what type of brand I wanted to be. The only way that I could define it to myself was to put it into the context of another brand that I was attracted to. That brand was Montblanc, named after a famous German mount peak, it is known for its precious and master-crafted writing instruments. No one buys a Montblanc pen for themselves. People receive a Montblanc as a special gift. We know that a Papermate and Montblanc will write the same way. We model ourselves after the Montblanc ethos and what the brand stands for precision and style.
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU PRICE IS NOT THE ISSUE?
Often in business we are scared of competing in the price wars. The best piece of advice I can give you is this: Don’t put your focus on finding new clients. Focus on honoring the clients you already have. Growth is built on loyalty. A lot of companies fall short on paying attention to the customers that already trust them. They neglect them because they just want to acquire more and more customers. If you focus on being remarkable (defined as
worthy of attention, extraordinary, or exceptional) to the customers you already have; then you will give them something to truly remark on.
**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “HOW TO BUILD YOUR NAIL BRAND”.
Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion here: