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From Fashion to Home Theater: One Woman’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

This article is largely an abstract from a story that originally appeared in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview High-performance home theater accessories company Austere aims to help consumers stay connected with a certain flair. Austere Founder and CEO Deena Ghazarian shares her views on entrepreneurship and more.

In designing a new generation of home theater accessories that show off a special sense of style, Austere Founder and CEO Deena Ghazarian pulled from her robust experience as a global sales leader and her years in the fashion industry.

Austere’s design philosophy centers on a commitment to create products that are about more than just functionality, and its products highlights Ghazarian’s eye for design.

In addition to Austere, Ghazarian also co-founded the Los Angeles-based shoe company ChloeNickie, which supplies high-end shoe brands at reasonable prices and donates a portion of proceeds to the Southern California Autism Speaks chapter.

Ghazarian, who sits on the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® Executive Board and previously was a member of CTA’s Board of Industry Leaders, sat down with It Is Innovation (i3) magazine to share her lessons learned from building startups.


What prompted you to found an accessory company to enhance the home entertainment experience?

There is a huge gap in the [accessories] category right now. You either have super-premium accessories or interchangeable nondescript ones that are not reliable. This gap was felt not only by customers, but also by the global consumer technology retailers. Austere was created to fill that gap.

We use exceptional materials and the latest innovation to ensure the best performance. But beyond that, Austere pays unique attention to the details. Everything is done with purpose, from the packaging to its brand elements. It’s design with intent. Our name, Austere, defines our style discipline. But our tagline “More Than Expected” tells our customers that they should expect more from a brand.


How has your 20+ years of experience in the consumer technology industry helped to inform your insights as an entrepreneur?

Since I began my career in consumer technology, nearly every project I have worked on has been entrepreneurial — from an actual startup to startups within a business. So, I’m very familiar with developing new products that solve customer needs and establishing the appropriate markets to reach them.

No matter the challenges, the roadmap for success is the same: being laser-focused on your goal. When establishing a business, it’s important to be quick, nimble and able to work amidst chaos. It’s not real sexy the first few years, and you will fail often. But my team and I at Austere have our eyes firmly on the prize of offering technology accessories that collide performance with style for the home.

Because I have spent 20+ years in consumer technology, I was able to see what was available in the market — what is there too much of? Not enough of? And I used those boundaries to build Austere to serve the needs of the customer as well as the retailer that simply weren’t being addressed.

By being incredibly disciplined on this strategy, Austere has weathered both unprecedented tariffs as well as a global pandemic in our first year of operation, and we still deliver what we promise: home theater accessories that are driving a market resurgence that is more than expected.


How has being a female executive shaped your career and business relationships?

I started my career at Macy’s in fashion accessories. Through a happy accident, I found myself a few years later working in a different kind of accessories: consumer technology. Like so many consumers, I appreciate style, and that’s why I combined my business experience and passion from fashion with consumer electronics to launch Austere.

Specific to being a female executive, for most of my adult life, I’ve had to navigate the work/home balance. I am a natural multitasker and problem solver, which are critical skills in business. Problem solving is just part of my DNA.

I also strongly believe that women are holistic problem solvers — we look at the bigger picture and the details and tend to be more open to collaboration, ultimately looking at more options and finding the best solutions. With so many challenges this year — tariffs, COVID — all companies have been put to the test. But I’ve built a team that is balanced and diverse to ensure we are hearing all voices and that allows me to better serve my retailers and my customers.


How important is CES® to your business?

Austere would not exist if it weren’t for CES 2018, where I met with many retailers who told me they need something new to address the loss in the accessories market. And then the next year, being able to show these global retailers and distributors the brand, product, talk through the solutions, and incorporate their feedback — would not have been possible outside of CES.

There simply is no other more important window in time than the first week in January where we have access to global partners. The time and money it would take to reach the same people in all of their locations would have been a non-starter. The access to the right people in one place during one week is undeniable.


Learn more about Ghazarian’s experience on CTA’s Executive Board, Austere’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and more in i3 magazine.

 

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It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry.

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