Big dreams require big determination.
Just ask Dr. Lezli Harvell and Chris Harvell, the dynamic wife and husband co-founders of the Newark, NJ-based dental practice, Dental Kidz. They’ve served 5,000 patients and been in business eight years, offering quality dental care to children who need it most, but the journey to success didn’t come easy.
While Dr. Harvell was a resident in dental school and Chris was in business school, the idea for their business started with a Wall Street Journal article.
“Chris found the article about a husband and wife team in the dental business, and gave it to me,” says Dr. Harvell. “At the time it was looked at as being novel, but to me it made sense to have a person with a business background focused on business and the person in the medical field doing what they do best.”
“Growing up as a poor kid, I was afraid of the dentist,” says Chris Harvell. “I don’t want kids to have that fear.”
But when Chris wrote and presented the business plan, everyone didn’t buy in right away.
“People did not believe in the business model,” says Dr. Harvell. “They didn’t understand how you could have a state of the art facility with specialists in an urban area— serving everyone. [Chris] had to educate people.”
The Harvells pushed forward anyways, refining their plan and working hard to raise enough capital to lease a large facility in Newark.
That fortitude is what has sustained them as they raise 5 daughters of their own, run a business and aim to serve the community.
“Entrepreneurship requires the entrepreneur to be a little crazy, says Chris Harvell. “Because you have to believe when the days are darkest that you’re going to make it through.”
The couple has taken their passion for helping others and is expanding their vision even further. Through the Iconolast Dinner Experience, the Harvell’s have raised thousands of dollars in scholarship money to help young women who want to attend Dr. Harvell’s alma mater, Spelman College– the same place she met her now-husband while he was visiting campus.
Although they’re living their dream, the Harvells hope to expand it, especially as the city of Newark undergoes new development.
“We have a good lease but we’d love to own a building, and have one in Harlem and one in Brooklyn— and one in the DC area where Chris grew up too,” says Dr. Harvell. “We are part of the fabric of the community.”
Tweet your congratulations to Dr. Lezli Harvell and Chris Harvell for being Leaders of the New School using the hashtag #LOTNS at @thegrio– and tell us who’s making a difference in your community too!