Kfir Gavrieli is the founder and CEO of designer shoe company Tieks. Tieks has been growing in popularity with their line of women’s flat shoes known for their signature split-sole, Italian leather, comfort, and portability. Tieks, founded in 2008 and officially launched in 2010, was one of the early brands to sell exclusively through its own website and today is one of the top web-only fashion brands in the world. Tieks has been recognized by Forbes (25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands), Inc (30 Under 30), Entrepreneur (Top 30 Startups to Watch), The Oprah Magazine (The O List), and several others. Throughout its history, the company has maintained a commitment to women’s empowerment. Through the Gavrieli Foundation, Tieks has become the largest individual lender in the world on Kiva, providing over $10,000,000 to women entrepreneurs. Prior to co-founding Tieks, Kfir worked in the hedge fund, venture capital, real estate and tech industries. He received his BA, MS, and MBA degrees at Stanford and lives in Los Angeles. Kfir has continued to invest and stays actively involved in several non-profits.
We recently sat down for an interview with Kfir to tell us more about his company and the recent Operation #SewTogether campaign he launched to help provide more facemasks to medical workers battling COVID-19.
How Did You First Hear About the Facemask Shortage? What Led You to Pivot Your Operations to Help Solve That Particular Problem?
Like everyone else in the country, I’ve been following the coronavirus since the outbreak started in China. In March, a friend whose sister is a doctor told me that her hospital would be out of masks within a couple of weeks. I was shocked — and scrambled to figure out how I could help get personal protective equipment (PPE) into the hands of our frontline medical providers. So, we launched Operation #SewTogether and started encouraging not only our team but our fans as well to make as many masks as they could for frontline medical providers in hospitals facing extreme shortages. We purchased a fleet of sewing machines, retrained our team to create masks, and turned our facility into a mask production line. We called on our amazing Tieks customers and fans to get engaged in this life-saving cause, offering $50 gift cards for every 25 masks sewn and $100 gift cards for every 50 masks.
And How Has the Campaign Worked out So Far?
We honestly couldn’t be happier with the results. Within 24 hours of launching the campaign, we had reached millions of fans and other people online. I’m proud to say together we’ve
created over 636,000 masks that have been sent to hospitals in need, and we’ll continue sending them as long as it takes to beat this pandemic.
Even Before Operation #Sewtogether, Tieks Has Become Well Known for Your Involvement in Women Empowerment Causes. Talk to Us a Little About the Gavrieli Foundation.
We started the Gavrieli Foundation with the mission of empowering women to start or run their own businesses, primarily low-income women and especially in developing nations. So far we’ve given nearly 59,000 microloans to female business owners, which totals out to around $10 million.
That Leads Us Nicely Into Our Next Question. What Inspired You to Start Your Own Brand?
After graduating college, I started following e-commerce trends. I felt like the whole concept of buying and selling directly online had so much potential, both for bigger brands and smaller companies. Online retail is just another great pillar of the internet, a great way of realizing the virtual space in a convenient, yet stylish manner. When we started Tieks, our goal was to demonstrate that you as the brand and then your customers don’t have to rely on the big retail stores and sites. The internet is a kind of great equalizer, so the website and online design was always a huge factor in the direction we wanted to take Tieks.
Tell Us Before We Go Where People Can Go to Learn More About Operation #Sewtogether
Visit tieks.com/sewtogether. We have detailed instructions on the types of material you need to construct simple yet safe DIY facemasks and then the best way to donate masks where they’re needed the most.
interview concept -DepositPhotos