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  • Tieks Founder Kfir Gavrieli’s 5 Keys to Building a Successful Direct-to-Consumer Brand

    Published on May 10, 2023

    In 2008, Kfir Gavrieli and his siblings founded Tieks—an online-only line of designer ballet flats, known for their foldable, split-sole design; Italian leather construction; comfort; and signature teal-colored soles. The company was one of the first to sell its shoes exclusively online, directly to consumers (D2C). Considered an industry disruptor at the time, Gavrieli is now an industry leader, with Tieks named one of Forbes’ 25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands and Entrepreneur’s Top 30 Startups to Watch, among other accolades. 

    So, how did Kfir Gavrieli grow Tieks into an internationally acclaimed fashion brand? The key, he has revealed, lies in five non-negotiable strategies – each of which he has employed in his own career and now shares to inspire other entrepreneurs to follow this path to success.  

    Practice authenticity 

    For Kfir Gavrieli, this is perhaps the most important strategy for founders to follow. As he’s explained, “Customers can tell when you are not being genuine, and they will not trust you if you come across as performative.” To that end, Tieks supports charitable causes that are authentically tied to the brand. Since the brand’s ballet flats empower women to display their personal style without sacrificing comfort or quality, Tieks’ enduring support of women’s empowerment feels like a natural extension of its mission. Kfir has said, “Supporting women and underserved communities is at the core of Tieks’ ethos.” Proving this dedication, the Gavrieli Foundation has donated over $10,000,000 to support female entrepreneurs who live in poverty, through the Kiva micro-loan platform, on which it is the largest individual lender. 

    Honesty is the Best Policy 

    Consumers know when they’re being sold a fast one—and they don’t respond well to it, notes Gavrieli, so he’s made it a policy to “never lie,” to his consumer base, “or make promises that you cannot keep.” Of course, it can be hard to convey honesty in advertisements or through marketing campaigns. So, to help truly connect with his consumer base and tell them what really matters to the Tieks brand, Gavrieli explains that he’s made “social media…the heart of our marketing.” Through the brand’s platforms, he shares that it’s been easier to be honest about “what the brand is all about,” and authentically “display our voice and what we care about as a company.” 

    Inclusivity Matters

    One of Kfir Gavrieli’s guiding business principles is inclusivity. Gavrieli says it is critical that “people from all walks of life feel welcome using your products and supporting your business.” And, with Tieks, he accomplishes that goal by doing everything from supporting “young girls attend[ing] summer intensive ballet camps,” female entrepreneurs, coding camps, and funding leadership coaching – especially for women and girls of color. These causes are deeply important to Gavrieli because, he has said, “When all people are given the same opportunity, everyone wins, and Tieks is committed to supporting causes that promote these values.”

    Never Forget to Listen 

    Perhaps one of Kfir Gavrieli’s most important business principles is to “listen to customer feedback and take it seriously.” Of course, he notes, that didn’t come naturally to him at first. When Tieks launched, he admitted to “spending too much time overanalyzing the best way to market our first shoe.” Eventually, however, he learned to “let go of the idea of perfection.” Instead, when he’s not sure where to take the brand next, he’s committed to “seek insight from people I trust and look to fill a white space where we are adding value to people’s lives.”

    Adapt or Die

    Finally, Gavrieli emphasizes that brands must be able to grow and change. Otherwise, they will risk losing the momentum they’ve built using the previous principles of D2C success. It’s critical, he says, to “be flexible enough to change course when something is not working or as trends change or technologies improve.” What does that look like in the Tieks brand? For Gavrieli, it means constantly monitoring “customer feedback,” to see “what kind of reviews are people leaving you on social media? What kind of articles are being written about your company?” When he finds something that ignites a firestorm among the customer base—like special edition Tieks releases—the brand does more of it, with annual drops of new Neon Tieks or special surprises like the launch of Ember Tieks from House Gavrieli. 

    But when something doesn’t work? Then, Gavrieli says he’ll switch gears because, “In my business, customer feedback is everything. What customers think about your product matters more than anything else. Truly listening to customers leads to developing the best product, a process that never ends. We are constantly revisiting our products based on customer feedback to make them the best possible.” And whether that means launching new designs, employing new technology, or simply growing the list of worthy causes supported by the Gavrieli Foundation, Kfir is ready to keep making changes that will sustain Tieks as a beloved fashion brand, and a force for good in the world. 

     Learn more about Kfir Gavrieli here: https://prabook.com/web/kfir.gavrieli/2134326

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