Since the launch of his luxury ballet flat brand, Tieks CEO KfirGavrieli has shown the world that he forges his own path in business. Gavrieli operates his ballet flat brand as a direct-to-consumer [D2C], online-only business. When the brand began in 2008, this caused a disruption in an industry that thought shoe shopping had to happen in person.
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Simultaneously, he ushered in a new era of corporate philanthropy, eschewing sponsorships and outright donations in favor of connecting with and empowering individuals. In the process, he showed the world new ways to effect change and conduct business in ways that lead to tremendous gains on both fronts.
Vision for a Different Marketplace: the D2C Revolution
When Tieks were first introduced to consumers in 2008, having a brand with an online-only presence was almost unheard of. As Gavrieli has said, “Bonobos was the first direct-to-consumer fashion company, and that was very inspiring.” In an effort to follow suit and create what he has described as “a direct relationship with customers, instead of one mediated by department stores and boutiques and specialty stores,” he committed to keeping Tieks out of brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Still, he acknowledged that the D2C model was not, in itself, a true innovation. He admitted, “When you’re a new brand, it’s a no-brainer to launch online.” So, to stand out, he’s explained, “We had to create innovative ways to bring people to our website. We did lots of testing on various social media platforms.”
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As the visionary CEO forged ahead with his plan to stay online, Gavrieli infused that same innovation in the very design of his product. He made the ballet flats foldable for easy packing, stuck to a high-quality Italian leather construction, added built-in support for extra comfort, and rolled out endless waves of in-demand colors and patterns – each with an instantly recognizable teal sole. In doing so, KfirGavrieli cemented Tieks as a brand that was wildly popular with women everywhere.
Limiting retail access to his online Boutiek didn’t hurt Gavrieli’s bottom line. Instead, in the months and years that followed, select Tieks styles and limited-edition releases sold out quickly, spawned pages-long waiting lists, created a significant resale market for the ballet flats, and earned Gavrieli and the shoe brand a stream of accolades, including a nod from Forbes as one of its 25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands along with a spot onInc’s 30 Under 30 list for Gavrieli.
For any CEO, such success and recognition would be a clear sign that he’d officially “made it.” Yet, for Gavrieli, succeeding was not a true measure of victory. Instead, he made a decision—to harness the transformative power of his shoe brand to change the lives of underserved women, all around the world.
Changing Charity with Micro-Loans
As a CEO dedicated to social change, KfirGavrieli decided to pioneer a new model for charitable giving. His Gavrieli Foundation is the single largest donor on the Kiva platform, a micro-lending marketplace that allows donors from around the world to fund budding entrepreneurs in increments as small as $25, or as large as their generosity allows. Gavrieli’s generosity has proven to be substantial, as he’s donated more than $10 million to date, supporting close to 60,000 female entrepreneurs in more than 70 countries, including the U.S.
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The notion of providing loans rather than making straight donations is, in itself, atypical for the world of corporate giving. Indeed, Gavrieli says, “This model of integrating social impact with the business is newer.” In spite of that fact, the CEO believes that “It’s a reflection of a bigger trend we’re seeing.” And so, thanks to his vision and leadership, he believes that, “At some point, it will become the norm.”
Source: Cosmo Politian