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Hidden Gems: Meet Alvie Faulkenbery of Alvies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alvie Faulkenbery.

Hi Alvie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
When my grandpa passed away, I ended up with 13 pairs of his worn-in boots and his wisdom of what really matters in this life. My grandpa, Alvie Faulkenbery Jr., didn’t have many material possessions growing up. What he did have were some great stories… hopping trains from Texas to California, his WWII plane crashing in the New Guinea jungle behind Japanese lines, growing the biggest cantaloupe in Mitchell County, and along every life path, always taking the time to take care of the people who were on the journey with him.

Alvie Faulkenbery Jr. lived his best life, no matter the circumstances. He always believed it’s not about how much stuff you acquire. It’s about the friends you make and the experiences you have. My grandpa came by it honestly, his stories were true and genuine.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with his boots. That 13 pair sat in my attic for years. When I finally tried them on, I realized how comfortable they were, how they added a little swagger to my step, made me walk a little taller… I was hooked.

I started thinking about why most people don’t wear boots. They’re not immediately comfortable and take ages to break in. The western-style didn’t match their style. Plus, even I used to think cowboy boots were mostly made for cowboys. I looked around at all of the brands and wanted to design something that was comfortable, stylish, and approachable for everybody.

With Fresh eyes, we ignored the rules of the category and started working backward from the idea of a super comfortable cowboy boot that fits an everyday style. We literally started building boots from the inside out, starting from the soles and working up. That’s how we developed Alvies Fast Break In Fit. It is the original design element of every Alvies boot that gives you a more comfortable, well-worn feel quicker than any boot on the market today. So you spend less time breaking ‘em in and more time living in ‘em.

In 2014, we launched our first boot brand out of an Airstream in downtown Austin. We spent several years selling boots and flip-flops to customers all around the world, talking about what they liked and didn’t. With a very positive initial reaction from our customers, we knew we were on to something and took the time to learn more about our customers and our competition, to refine our brand positioning, and to build a strategy to scale.

Today, as the original Austin boot, Alvies focuses on selling entirely at Alvies.com and sharing the Alvies experience with the world. We spend a lot of time making sure our customers have that same intimate boot buying experience that we created for them when they walked into our Airstream once we launched the business.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not at all.

When Alvies launched in Austin, we were the first everyday cowboy boots sold “direct-to-consumer,” and we were first in selling comfortable cowboy boots to customers who didn’t think of themselves as cowboys. But starting out of an Airstream became more time-consuming and restrictive from our actual goals. What we wanted to do was back into an aggressive ecommerce strategy and have offline sales fuel it. But struggled to juggle both channels with a small team.

While we were still figuring things out, new boot brands emerged and saw success from the rise of social media marketing and a focus on D2C. Eventually, we had to make some tough decisions. We decided to rethink everything, and we slowed down the brand to a hault so that we could speed up Alvies.com. We shut down the Airstream (our main revenue source) and focused on a full pivot of our brand. It took more than a year to get going again, and we went heads down into building the brand you see today.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Alvies is a boot and flip-flop brand that sells exclusively online and at events around Austin We’re all about making high-quality, good-lookin’ products that:

1. Promote the balance of boots and flip-flops, and that all you need is a pair of each if you’re living right

2. Defy footwear stereotypes, proving you don’t have to be a cowboy to wear boots or a hippie to wear flip-flops

3. Share the fun, laid-back Austin lifestyle with the world

We’re also a brand with a personal story — our products have the name of our founder on them. It’s also the name of his father, grandfather, great grandfather, and his son. We see that as a responsibility to make great products and provide outstanding customer experiences.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
If you are passionate about your idea or early-stage business, keep taking steps to move it forward. An idea only turns into a business through your actions. But make sure you are passionate about it, otherwise, you could very well lose the drive to keep going forward.

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Image Credits:

Images by Gary Smith of Loop 1 Photography

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