When davi launched its Kickstarter campaign last week, the Fort Worth-based shoe company met its goal in under three hours—selling approximately 400 pairs of shoes.
“The team and I were blown away by the response,” founder Gabe Williams says. “It really helped reinforce that people are looking for products built with a purpose.”
It’s that “purpose” that seems to be the driving force for davi’s fast success.
“I had a hard time believing that a $200 pair of Jordans made you somebody…I felt compelled to do something.”
Davi, pronounced “dah-vee,” calls itself a first-of-its-kind shoe brand with its hyperlocal business model that’s both socially conscious and community-centered. Every time a customer orders a pair of davi sneakers, 5 percent is donated to an initiative located in the city where the purchase was made. The first three partnerships are local organizations: Hope Farm, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and I.M. Terrell.
“Eventually, we will give the consumer the option to submit an initiative,” Williams says. “As we scale and grow, we will expand the cities and initiatives we work with.”
Like its founder, davi was born in the Southside of Fort Worth, where Williams says the creative energy is contagious. The shoes are designed internally and are made in Vietnam, although one day Williams hopes to establish a corporate headquarters in the Fort Worth area.
“I’d like davi to be a household name,” he says. “Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, davi.”
Although he has big dreams, Williams says he’s not naive, and knows the company has a long way to go. As a former director for Nike, Williams has experience in the footwear universe—which gave him the “push” to create something of his own.
“I had a hard time believing that a $200 pair of Jordans made you somebody,” Williams says. “I had a hard time reconciling the amount of money some communities spent on Jordans, Yeezys, etc., with the amount of money the larger brands poured back into communities—very little. At the same time, costs to participate in extracurricular activities continued to increase. I felt compelled to do something.”
“We want the individual that is bold, confident, and actively creating the future.”
Williams says he pondered the idea of investing in a brand that endorsed a community, rather than a single athlete. He had witnessed a resource and access gap in art, music, and sports programs, and had this desire to transform the sneaker industry.
So he asked himself, “What if we created a brand that invests in the communities that supported them?”
Now, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, davi will start production early to mid-October, with deliveries anticipated to go out around the holidays. Williams says he expects the average davi customer to be “sure of self,” and not driven by influencers or prominent logos.
“We want the individual that is bold, confident, and actively creating the future,” he says. “They are creators, makers, and doers. The risk-taker that is carving their own path.”
Once davi develops a market for its lifestyle sneakers, Williams hopes to push into performance and apparel. For now, eager sneaker fans can expect new designs and concepts to be released in early 2019.
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