This may not have been the ideal month for Henry Davis to launch his new venture, Arfa, but the former president of Glossier insists it’s still an opportune time for direct-to-consumer brands to reinvent the way they connect with consumers.
Sometimes described as an incubator or house of brands, Arfa came into being on March 17 with Hiki, a line of sweat solutions from deodorant to body wipes that is one of several entities to be run under its umbrella.
Given the surprise spread of the Coronavirus, Afra moved quickly to avoid looking out of place or irrelevant by immediately giving away Hiki to hospital and medical facility workers.
Behind the scenes, Davis — who left Glossier in late 2018 to co-found Arfa — also had to switch gears in terms of a presentation he was to make at Zendesk’s Relate conference.
Originally scheduled to take place in Miami, Zendesk decided to move forward with a virtual event, Relater, where sessions were broadcast directly from their homes, including a presentation from Davis that was recorded in New York last week.
While he remains committed to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model that saw the rise of not only Glossier but Warby Parker and Casper, Davis said the “first act” of such firms is over — and he was very clear about the kind of customer experiences the second act will demand.
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Confronting the new gatekeepers
Looking back more than 100 years into the retail sector’s history, Davis noted how traditional consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands were often hamstrung by a single factor — the