Weighing in With Dr. Luke Shapiro

In Launchpad by Dental Entrepreneur

Having a head for business and a knack for creativity can be a powerful combination. It certainly has been for Dr. Sharon Huang, founder of the boutique NYC-based dental practice “LesBelles NYC” (known as Les Belles for short). In 30 minutes with Dr. Huang, I learned about her exceptional branding and how it sets her apart from her contemporaries in the field.  For any of us seeking some guidance on how to make it in the Big Apple, here are a few tips out of Dr. Huang’s playbook.

Following her undergraduate degree at Binghamton University, Dr. Huang attended Columbia Dental School in the Bronx before going on to complete her GPR residency at St. Barnabas and Bronx VA. Like many of us in the dental field, initially, she entertained thoughts of medical school, but after working at a dental office, she fell in love with the profession.  After residency, Dr. Huang worked for three different types of dental practices: a prosthodontic practice, an insurance practice and a dental spa.  Each practice and job offered a wealth of insights and lessons that Dr. Huang was able to distill and refine as she set about creating her own unique path through the industry.

Her initial strategy was a smart one for any young entrepreneurial dentist without the cash to buy a practice or open a new space outright. She first opted to rent an operatory from another dentist, which required only investing in supplies and rent and then started building her clientele one patient at a time.  But,  how,  you may be wondering. How did she go from a single chair to opening two dental offices in 3 years – Les Belles Grand Central and their flagship, Les Belles Park Sixty? The trick, it turns out, is not to build a dental practice and then slap a brand on it; it’s to build a brand that just so happens to have a dental practice.

Using social media and good old-fashioned patient care, Dr. Huang has created a phenomenally popular dental practice infused with the elements of a gorgeous lifestyle brand. This has resonated deeply with her patients and the general public, who have flocked to her office because of its exceptional customer service, its integrative wholistic approach that blends cutting-edge technology with top-quality products and focus on health and wellness, and, last but not least, its refusal to compromise aesthetics and serenity within the dental care space.

The true beauty of all lasting and timeless brands may be their ability to not only meet our expectations but to exceed them in ways that keep us engaged and coming back for more. As a brand, Les Belles is a reflection of Dr. Huang and what is most important to her – relationships and forming lasting connections with people.  And just as Dr. Huang has been inspired by the majesty of Paris and its iconic position at the forefront of fashion and culture, so too is Les Belles an ode to creating a beautiful, timeless and joyful experience for people. And this can be seen throughout her flagship office, Les Belles Park Sixty, which combines sleek, bright and white structural elements with a touch of luxury.

Les Belles has an operatory dubbed “The Birkin,” after the famed Hermès bag that is so exclusive you have to build a relationship with an associate to be offered one to purchase. It has become something of a phenomenon on social media. Another operatory dubbed “The Kelly,” yet another homage to the timeless Hermès bag, is also generating buzz and excitement. The office now has 6 operatories to support 6 dentists.  But elevating dental care to the level of self-love and self-care is just one of the many special facets that Les Belles brings to the table and to its patients. As for the future of  Les Belles, Dr. Huang plans to expand slowly.  She is really in the business of people, not dental offices. While many dentists are focused on tasks like building their business or focusing on their craft, Dr. Huang believes in engaging the hearts and minds of her patients to empower them with the ability to build beautiful and healthy lives.

It is this wholistic philosophy that has drawn the attention of several VC firms seeking to expand her business, but Dr. Huang knows you cannot scale something like this quickly.  If she expands too quickly, she risks losing the unique quality and authenticity that makes Les Belles…well, Les Belles. For now, Dr. Huang intends to continue to keep on growing in the heart of New York and winning over the hearts of New Yorkers. @lesbellesnyc | lesbellesnyc.com

Luke Shapiro received his undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Spanish. He then went to dental school at Stony Brook and graduated in May 2018. He is now an orthodontics resident at Tufts in Boston. In dental school, Luke did research, focusing on 3D imaging, with his most recent project on the application of iPad 3d imaging technology. He was also very involved in the aesthetics club and ASDA. Luke is the leader of the dental student section of IgniteDDS. He is also the founder of @futuredentists @courtneylavignedmd courtneylavigne.com