For this interview we are sitting down with one of the owners of Avianne & Co, Joseph Aranbayev who goes by Joe Avianne in the industry.
CA: What makes you get better at doing this jewelry business than the competition?
JA: It is what you do. You have to love what you do. It is not a job for me, it is a passion. You do what you do and try to be the best at what you do. You try to better yourself on a daily basis and your product. What drives me everyday when I come into the office is just passion. The hours can fly by and you don’t even notice that time flew by. The difference between loving what you do and having a job.
CA: When you were younger did you know you wanted to do this or did you fall into this?
JA: When I was younger, I knew I would make a difference in the world. Not necessarily in my business because this is a family business. I am third generation in the business. I was an athlete in the sport of Judo when I was younger. I’ve always had the passion to be a world champion or whatever I put my mind too. When I retired from the sport in 1999-2000, I came into the family business. The same passion I put into my sport, I put into my business. My father was a great role model which was another thing. He taught me how to count money, hold the money, and which position to hold the money to count it quickly. My father made me a visionary in the business world from when I was a kid.
CA: What is the normal process from design idea to final product?
JA: It is a whole thought process. When I design jewelry, I don’t design it for one specific individual but for the mainstream. This is how I can capitalize selling to everybody but put it on the right people to catch along to the bandwagon. What comes along with it is creativity, you have to be a creative person. A visionary. It is like designing a house, clothing, or a phone. Whatever product you have to design, you have to visualize it first. You have to see it in your brain. A lot of the stuff we do here is just that. Before I had the graphic team who are stationed upstairs, everything used to be put on paper and draw it out then give it to the jeweler. You would make mistakes going through that process. Thank god for the computer day and age, we have graphic designers which eliminates all that labor and time lost. Putting hours in and days in creating a piece, you can create it on a computer to get a visual right then and there. You give it to the laborers to put it together. In reference to your question, a lot of creativity goes into designing a piece for the masses. For example, if you come in and say “Joe I want you to create something unique for me”. I have to know exactly what you are into, any tats that mean anything to you, any meaningful memories in your life, or something you want brought to life. I will pick your brain and what is suitable for your character and I’ll bring it to life.
CA: What obstacles do you have to maintain your quality of product and have it priced for the causal person?
JA: We are going through that obstacle now with one of our collections (called the Royal Collection). The collection was created five years ago and was exclusive for celebrities. Now other jewelers jumped on the bandwagon and started swagger jacking our designs while making it for cheaper. To compete in the marketplace, it is really a task for this particular line. I really don’t want to change the integrity of our work. I don’t want to make it any cheaper or different quality diamonds or less gold. That is one of the challenges we are getting right now with people copying our work for much cheaper. The masses don’t understand quality, they just want a better number. They want that look rather than going for quality and getting what you paid for.CA: How do you counterattack people stealing your designs?
JA: We patent our designs but that doesn’t mean they can’t make something ‘similar’ looking. You can’t really eliminate that. I want to be known for doing it first. So when people think about that specific line, they will think that is an Avianne & Co design right there. They will not think that is a Joe Schmoe around the corner design. It will always be rooted back to us because we are the ones who came out with it originally. I am not really mad at the people copying because they are not creative. They are not visionaries. They are copycats. This happens in any industry (cars, buildings, phones, clothes, shoes, etc) with people who recreate to capitalize on it. They never get the credibility for their line/design. At the end of the day, we have a great team and a great business. We believe in our product and we believe in ourselves. We can always make new designs because our minds are always working. You can come and take my design but how many people can you sell it too? We know who to put it on to make it pop.
CA: How do people know your work when it is on these celebrities out and about?
JA: People just know. The craftsmanship is different, the way pieces are put together are different. We don’t create a slop job. If I was to sell you a piece of jewelry and I don’t like something in that piece of jewelry, I will not sell you the piece. One of my sales reps goes to Las Vegas for New Years. Some stranger walks up to my rep and says “incredible looking piece, I bet that is from Avianne”. My rep hands him the business card and was amazed this individual happened to work for the company.
CA: How do you make new goals when you are already making amazing work?
JA: Knowing the fact there is a young blood who wants to take your place, you always want to stay the best. You mind has to be constantly working. On this strip right here, there are thousands and thousands of jewelry stores. What separates me from the rest? What separates you from the rest of the websites? If I stop working or stop putting goals to my business or myself, then I lose. I was born to lose but built to win. We are all born to lose but not everyone is a winner. When you are born to this god awful world and you understand what this world has to offer to you, being stuck with that mentality makes you a loser. You obviously want to strive for the best. You wake up and thank god for breathing this fresh air. You are already a successful man or woman. I have four kids man, I have to feed them. I have rent to pay here. I got my mom and dad here. I have 10-15 people who rely on me and my family to live their life. All of these things come into play besides me. It isn’t about me anymore. It is about the unit. We work hand and hand together to do what we do. My team, my company reputation, and my family keep us striving for bigger and better things. It has to be like that or you will lose.
CA: What is the biggest opportunity for growth?
JA: I would like to relocate from here so I can stand out. We are apart of the culture, the hip hop culture. We have been doing this for so long, people who don’t even buy jewelry know who are if you follow the culture. The next task at hand is to brand ourselves through the mainstream. Not just through hip hop. The way we are going to do that is to separate ourselves from this street right here. This is so we don’t fall in with the rest of the mill. Relocation is one task. Appealing not only to the hip hop world but also the mainstream world which is a challenge for us. If you are in the hip hop world, you already know us. When you leave that circle, there is a bigger world out there and that is who we want to appeal to as well. The way we are going to tackle that monster is the internet. There is more people online nowadays than there were 10 years ago. Thank god about five years ago, we already established our market online. We are very big online. Now we have to broader our horizons to the mainstream. We are craftsman, no matter what kind of piece of jewelry you need built, we can build it. You have seen Ciara’s engagement ring? Erica Mena’s engagement ring? We have been doing this for a very long time. When you do great work, word spreads. When you do bad work, word also spreads.
CA: How are you going to get the people outside of the hip hop culture?
JA: The reason why I came out with the Royal Collection was based on the following question. I said to myself why do people buy jewelry? I have been working in the family business for 15 years and I didn’t know why people bought jewelry besides to look icy or fly. I sat down for months and ask myself this question for months. I brought the Royal Collection to Hip hop market because people wear jewelry to look wealthy. Who wore jewelry? The royal family wore jewelry. If you look back in the history of jewelry, less than a thousand years ago it was illegal to wear jewelry if you were not of royal blood. If you wore jewelry you would go to jail and have your jewelry confiscated. What kind of jewelry does royal people wear? Usually gems and gemstones, barely any diamonds. That is why I came out with the Royal Collection. It appeals to any market, I simply introduced it first to the hip hop market.
CA: Is this the only store front?
JA: Yes, this is the only store front anywhere. Satellite stores are not paying, I would rather focus our attention to the online platform.
CA: What is the best advice you can give someone with a strong desire to create a brand?
JA: It is good to have a dream. It is good to have goals. But now you have to work for it because it is not going to be given to you. You can bring the horse to the water but you can’t make it drink. So work hard. Hard work does eventually pay off. I have a perfect example for you. I want to make an example of Elliot, who is one of sales representatives whose department is entertainment. He started here 6 years ago when he was 18. We gave him the opportunity and he took it. Grew up in a single parent household and was the only guy in the home. He went through a lot of struggles in his life at an early age. He worked hard and faced life threatening situations but today if you asked about Elliot, he deals with A list celebrities. He is a 23, 24 year old kid and he had the opportunity to become something and he took it.