By Serina Cooper - Washington Avenue BID
Nestled on 8th and Washington Avenue, what may seem like an unassuming, quaint business, becomes quite the contrary once you step inside. Warm sunlight fills the room and pictures of ocean waves throughout the office gives a welcoming beach aesthetic that captures the essence of South Beach. Molly, the receptionist, greets me with a smile and a boisterous "good morning" that instantly feels reminiscent of visiting an old family friend, which is quite a feat considering most people are absolutely terrified of visiting the dentist.
Dr. Jinelle Andujar's dentist practice Sobe Smiles lives up to their name, and after residing on Washington Avenue for over 30 years, I'd say they have earned their stripes as the quintessential local Miami Beach business. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Andujar at her office and we discussed her journey from being a student in Jersey & New York to moving to Miami, where she obtained her masters at Barry University and eventually settled to South Beach. Among our talks about her business, she shared with me her personal story of manifestation; in a span of 10 years, owning the dentist practice she once shadowed as a student and worked for as an Associate. Her interview left me with feelings of hope for the future of Washington Avenue and inspired me as a woman, and entrepreneur.
You grew up and studied in New Jersey/New York then decided to settle in Miami after obtaining your masters. What drew you to South Beach?
"After living on South Beach while studying at Barry University, I always knew I wanted to come back once I completed dental school. During my residency, I actually shadowed Dr. Richard Goodman here at Sobe Smiles, and I remember thinking, I can't wait to come back and one day, this will be my office.
"It's amazing how life works, that 10 years later it happened. But what drew me overall to South Beach is the quality of life. I love being able to walk around the boardwalk with my iced coffee, I love the people, the diversity, the food, culture, its a great place to live." Why did you decide to become a dentist?
“I love that dentistry balances healthcare, also art, it’s a different quality of life as well, I have a special relationship with all of my patients and i think it merges everything together very nicely.” The process to becoming a dentist is lengthy: Dr. Jinelle completed 4 years of college (Biology major),and 2 years of Masters in Biomedical Science at Barry University. She speaks candidly of the extreme competitiveness getting in a dental school in the US.
After completing the first American Dental Board exam, she obtained 4 more years of dental school, 4 more board certifications, and a year of residency which she spent half of in the Trauma ER Unit at Barry University Medical Center and the other half shadowing at Sobe Smiles. She continues to take courses every 3-4 months to remain relevant in her field and as a certified CEREC technician, (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic, a method of creating dental restorations at your dental office), she now mentors other doctors once a year.
Why did you decide to become a business owner, rather than continue to work for an established dentist practice?
"As a local of South Beach, my dream was to have a dentist office who would grow with and for the community. Also, having your own autonomy, making your own decisions and ownership is something that is important to me. I can go to sleep at night and know that everything I’ve done is how i want it. My motto is “always do what’s right.”
Over 75% of adults experience dental anxiety or fear (dentophobia), what does your business do to overcome that, and encourage people to visit and take care of their dental health?
"Communication is key, having that dialog beforehand and helping them feel welcome, that mutual understanding that I’m a person too; treating my patients like I would my own friends and family, they know and they feel it here- trust is a major factor." "Customer service is also of the utmost importance to me, because even from their first impression, they want to feel welcomed. They’re already nervous walking in, they don’t want to see the dentist, so our introduction eases them. To have everyone in the office on the same page, welcoming them, it’s so important and can really change someone’s whole perspective."What services and products does your business offer?
"Sobe Smiles is a full service general dentistry office, and I'm involved in everything from fillings, to root canals, veneers and implants, CBCT in here, we offer fully digital services, I have a CBCT which allows me to create in-house crowns and I'm a CEREC mentor, so I go back once a year to mentor other CEREC doctors. Even our impressions are all digital.
"Why did you choose to keep Sobe Smiles on Washington Avenue?
I have faith in Washington Avenue, there’s a community here, they need a business that they can also trust in, and the tourists, I get alot of tourists here, they’re on vacation, and a tooth goes missing, you’d be surprised, they need somewhere reliable they can go.
”Can you share an impactful moment while being a business owner that has changed your life for the better?
During the pandemic, everything was closed and I had a patient leave a voicemail in severe pain; they had fallen and broken a tooth and were too afraid to go to the hospital. This was in the height of the pandemic when the hospital was a COVID hotspot, people were afraid to go and there were so many restrictions getting in, so to be able to come in and provide them relief was everything.
"It was a scary experience for everyone, no one knew what was going to happen, but I came in, put on every kind of PPE possible and, I thought of how great it is to be able to have my own business where I have the power to really help someone in their time of need. If I didn’t have my own practice, I wouldn’t be able to do those things.
How do you measure success as a business owner?
"By word of mouth definitely. To hear people on the street say they’ve heard of Sobe Smiles and they’re great, to me that’s the ultimate level of success." You’re expecting, congratulations! What are your thoughts on managing being a wife, mom and entrepreneur?
"I feel that women are often placed with this stigma that we have to choose, and I don’t feel that way, you can make your own rules, do what works for you, and that’s what I plan to do. I’m often asked because I’m pregnant if I plan to stop working, but my job is my passion, I love what I do, I enjoy coming to work everyday. It’s a part of me, my life".
What do you feel sets Sobe Smiles apart from other dentist practices?
"It's a family, local, community oriented office, it's just me, my Assistant and my Receptionist. Patients that come here, they get to have that one on one experience with me, they have my number, I can call them on my cell after work, I see them on the street, they know I’m truly apart of the community I service in." Outside of your company, what is your passion in life, what motivates you?
"My passion is learning more, I love to learn, I love to read, workout, and spend time with my dog and family."
What are your hopes for Sobe Smiles in the future?
"My hope for Sobe Smiles is, I would love to stay here for another 30 years, and grow with the practice. I hope to see Washington Avenue grow, I’m already seeing the changes little by little, and I have alot of faith in the future for this Avenue and our business."
Click on the link to learn more about our local dentist office on Washington Avenue and make your next dental appointment at Sobe Smiles!
830 Washington Avenue
Monday: 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Tuesday: 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM
Wednesday: 12:00 PM- 8:00 PM
Thursday: 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Friday: 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM