In this article, I caught up with Deena Ghazarian, CEO and founder of Austere. Here is Deena’s inspiring story and her words of wisdom for you!
What was your inspiration behind starting your company?
There is a huge gap in the accessories category right now. You either have super-premium accessories or interchangeable non-descript ones that may or may not work. We saw an opportunity to fill that gap.
Austere, our name, comes from our style discipline. But our tagline “more than expected” tells our customers that they can and should expect more from a brand with every element, Austere will always be more than expected.
We created Austere for people who care about design and style and want what we connect to our gorgeous 4K TVs and sleek laptops to be not only technologically advanced but also design forward.
What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?
That we are listening to what the customer wants and not dictating it to them. One example is how we use exceptional materials and the latest innovation to ensure the best performance. And, beyond that, Austere pays unique attention to the details in design.
For example, packaging is so important to me. Our packaging is gorgeous with every element of its design and material handpicked for the experience.
What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?
Austere will provide exceptional, sleek solutions for every room in the home – taking us from the home theater to the kitchen, home office, bedroom and beyond.
What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, besides my work product, I am focused on my team.
Not just in their work product but also their performance, their career growth, their work/life balance, sharing the successes with them, making sure they take time off to be with friends and families, making sure I motivate them while also supporting them and eliminating roadblocks.
And it’s critical to find, foster, mentor and grow talent.
Instead of worrying about me and what I am doing, I now worry about every employee who works for me to both help them and to help my company be a success.
What advice do you have for other women that would like to start their own company?
I am the daughter of an entrepreneur and I have the same drive to create something ownable and successful and have worked toward that my entire professional life so I’m thrilled to be able to do with Austere.
It takes a lot of passion, which I have for my job and have always had everywhere I’ve been before now.
What tools do you recommend for other women who would like to be entrepreneurs?
Find mentors. Find men and women whom you admire and take parts of each of them that resonate with who you want to be. Further, the lessons from diverse and inclusive mentors are unique gifts.
Seek the ways to solve challenges that are well outside your own journey. Look at others who overcame obstacles that are about more than just careers and success. Lessons are everywhere.
However, working for other people – lots of other people – shows you the invaluable lesson about what kind of leader you want to be as well as the kind of leader you do not want to be.
From that, you can then build your own playbook for success with the experience to back it up. It will also help you understand how to get people around you who will both support you and challenge you in constructive ways, which will drive you to greater success than you’d have on your own.
Photo courtesy of Austere
What’s the worst and best decision you have ever made?
Thankfully, I don’t have a ton of horrific decisions. And I chose to see them as lessons, which makes me less afraid of making mistakes. If I had to pick one, it would be not moving on as quickly as I should have at a job where I had given everything I had to give and got everything I had to get from it.
And the best decision I ever made was taking the time to press pause on my career trajectory to start my family.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?
That not all relationships are equal and that it’s important to prioritize the relationships where everyone involved is equally invested.
Valuing relationships like this and working with my valued partners is exactly what started Austere.
How do you overcome failure or fear?
It’s just not an emotion I give much credence to.
What habits contribute to your success?
Focus, being present particularly in meetings or on phone calls, remembering people and names as well as what they’ve shared with me about themselves, eating well and sleeping to have the energy to crush it every day, work/family balance.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
For me, this means working from my dedicated home office. I travel an exceptional amount.
I am also a wife and mother and being able to toss in a load of laundry or give my child a quick hug and kiss in the middle of the day means everything to me and absolutely makes me feel balanced.
My iPhone because I travel a lot and am in meetings or away so I rely on my phone to be the lifeline to my husband, to my girls, to my team, to all the apps that enable me to get things done quickly.