American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra believes in the power of music to move the world, forge connections, and inspire belief in a brighter future. We are proud to have supporters who make the world a better place—such as Kfir Gavrieli, a member of our National Board of Directors and CEO of women’s shoe brand, Tieks, who has channeled his energy into helping Los Angeles prepare for the Coronavirus crisis. He answered five questions about his philanthropic work, his connection to Israel, and his passion for the Israel Philharmonic.
AFIPO: In response to the Coronavirus crisis, Tieks rapidly mobilized to figure out how to sew masks in its warehouse in Los Angeles, empower your Tieks fans around the world to sew tens of thousands of their own masks, and import n95 masks from factories globally, getting much-needed supplies for frontline healthcare providers. Why did you leap into action?
KFIR GAVRIELI: As soon as I learned of this coming shortage, I knew we had a responsibility to reorient our business to get masks into the hands of those who need them most. Our nurses, doctors, EMTs and other medical professionals are on the front lines of this pandemic. We must do everything we can to protect them: for their own health and for everyone’s health, so that we have adequate healthcare staff as this crisis grows.
Tieks launched Operation #SewTogether to mobilize our resources and millions of fans to produce masks for frontline medical providers in hospitals facing extreme shortages. We set up a mask production line in Los Angeles by retooling our facility, purchasing a fleet of sewing machines and retraining our team to create masks that could be immediately donated to local hospitals. We also 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.
Since launching Operation #SewTogether late last week, the Tieks community has created over 40,000 masks, which have been donated to over 500 hospitals and medical facilities across the country. Thousands of more customers and fans are making masks right now, and each day the rate of mask production and number of participants has grown dramatically.
Overnight, we’ve essentially created a nationwide factory with a distributed work force of tens of thousands of people sewing from home. This factory’s output far exceeds what we can produce at our headquarters.
I have also been engaging international business contacts to identify global suppliers who could deliver N95 medical masks to meet the shortage. As part of the campaign, Tieks will be making a cash donation to secure additional medical-grade masks from these suppliers overseas.
This is a moment that we need to come together—businesses, nonprofits, governments, and everyday people of all backgrounds and political affiliations. Every single person should be asking: what can I do to help?
AFIPO: Tieks has had a social mission from the beginning. Can you tell us about it?
KFIR GAVRIELI: We started The Gavrieli Foundation to leverage the ingenuity, passion, and energy of entrepreneurial women. Through Kiva, we support women entrepreneurs living in poverty around the world. Rather than providing material goods or cash to buy them, our contributions empower women to start and grow their businesses. These businesses become reliable sources of income and create independence and opportunity for these women, their families, and their communities. This approach is the most comprehensive, sustainable, and scalable solution to global poverty.
Since its inception, The Gavrieli Foundation has become the single largest lender on Kiva worldwide. So far, we have contributed more than $10,000,000 to thousands of women entrepreneurs in 70 countries, including the U.S.
AFIPO: You have always been a great friend of the AFIPO and currently serve on our Board of Directors. What inspired you to get involved with our work?
KFIR GAVRIELI: I was born in Jerusalem and moved to the U.S. as a child, but my family and I remain deeply connected to Israel. I’ve always loved classical music and admired top Israeli violinists like Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Gil Shaham, who are among the finest virtuosos in the world.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra showcases so much of what makes Israel special: the pursuit of excellence, a thirst for innovation, tremendous diversity, and fearless determination to make the world a better place. I got involved with AFIPO to make sure we showcase this remarkable asset to tell Israel’s story in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to supporting Israel’s preeminent cultural ambassador, AFIPO was pivotal in founding KeyNote, the IPO’s classical music education and community-building programs — and is proud to continue supporting the initiatives to this day. KeyNote has a diverse reach, bringing programming to more than 22,500 children each year in Jewish, Arab-Israeli, immigrant, religious, and secular K-12 Israeli schools. Its transformative programs encourage a shared passion for culture in the next generation while promoting openness, tolerance, and mutual respect through music.
AFIPO: Does Tieks have an Israeli connection?
KFIR GAVRIELI: As some of our customers might know, our company name is a Hebrew word. Tiek means “bag” — since every ballet flat we make can be folded up and put in a bag. We designed our flats to be foldable and portable so they could fit conveniently in a handbag.
AFIPO: Last question: If you could be one instrument, which would you be?
KFIR GAVRIELI: Violin. No brainer. Always been my favorite instrument. The fact that I’m terrible at it makes me like it more.