How Avi Hiaeve Of Avi & Co. Built His Burgeoning Brand On Trust And Passion 

Avi Hiaeve, the CEO and Founder of the esteemed luxury watch and jewelry boutique Avi & Co. is at the forefront of the industry, with his finger on the pulse of high-end and custom timepieces and bespoke jewelry. At the helm of the burgeoning brand, Hiaeve’s passion is not only what started the company but is also what leads it today. As a young teenager, Hiaeve moved to New York City with the great tenacity to build something meaningful and conquer “The American Dream” — indeed, he did. On the heels of the incredibly successful opening of Avi & Co. in the prestigious Miami Design District, Haute Living sits down with Hiaeve to discuss everything from how he got started in the industry to how he evolved the business and his goals for the years to come.

How Avi Hiaeve Of Avi & Co. Built His Burgeoning Brand On Trust And Passion Photo Credit: Courtesy

HAUTE LIVING: How did you get started in the industry?
AVI HIAEVE: I moved to New York from Israel with my parents when I was 14 years old. When I arrived, the only English I knew was yes and no. I worked at my mom’s cousin’s store on the weekend downtown on Canal Street, as well as at my dad’s jewelry store in Long Island a few days a week. I was making crazy sales and getting paid $40/day, and then I would come out with a $1,000 salary a week because of the commissions. It was crazy.

At 16, I told my parents I wanted to open my own store. With the experience I gained from working since I was ten, I felt motivated and ready; I was immersed in the hustle and bustle of the business world. I was never scared. I believed in myself. I believed in the business. I think I’ve experienced many things in life since then, with ups and downs, but the experiences were always good.

We opened the new store, and I was on Canal Street from 16 to 19 years old. I was the best jeweler over there. People started to know me; I did good by people. And since day one, I tried to always be real with people. I always cared about my reputation, not just with customers but with everybody: the community, my parents, and my friends. 

When I turned 19, I knew I wanted to make my way over to 47th Street. Back then, you couldn’t get a store — no matter what you did or how much money you paid, you couldn’t get a store. [However], I got lucky, and I got the store.

HL: The diamond and watch industry certainly runs in your family, but was this industry something you were always passionate about?
AH: The passion was the hustle and bustle, and the passion grew as soon as I was in the game. I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

How Avi Hiaeve Of Avi & Co. Built His Burgeoning Brand On Trust And Passion Photo Credit: Courtesy

HL: Can you walk us through the early days of building your business? What was that like, and how has it evolved?
AH: The early days were just building my reputation, doing good by clients [and] vendors. I wanted to be trustworthy and just do good by [the] people. It wasn’t easy. It was new to me, but we made it.

HL: How do you continue to grow the business in the current market?
AH: I’m always thinking outside the box and in the industry. I try to be the first in everything. We are also expanding, [as] we’re coming to different cities, different states, and hopefully different countries.

The Miami store opened on May 4th of F1 weekend in the Miami Design District. I think it was a big achievement because we’re not authorized dealers for Rolex or these brands, but in the Miami Design District, you have to be an authorized dealer to have a store there. But we found a store location. We’re privately owned. 

The Miami Grand Opening went above and beyond what I hoped for — I expected it to be good, but this was something else  — above my expectations. I don’t even know how to say it. The only thing I can say is I’m blessed.

How Avi Hiaeve Of Avi & Co. Built His Burgeoning Brand On Trust And Passion Photo Credit: Courtesy

HL: Congratulations on the Miami grand opening during F1 week. Was this a market you always wanted to open in? How did it come about?
AH: Yes, this was a market I always wanted to open. I wanted to exceed expectations, and I wanted to create a place aimed at the customers who shop in the Miami Design District. The biggest challenge we came across was that we only had five weeks to build the store. 

The inspiration behind the showroom’s design was simple: I had the right team. A designer came up with the idea, and I trusted his imagination 100%. The green inside was inspired by a jungle and forest. I wanted to create a big buzz, and I feel like my mission was accomplished.

HL: Are there any current trends you’ve seen emerge? Are there any brands and models you’re particularly excited about carrying in Avi & Co. right now?
AH: Our Avi & Co. watches are fully iced out. They were created by me and my team inspired by the legacy of a man who built his home from the ground up. The pattern on the bracelet mimics the house’s deck, and the dial is like the brick of the driveway. It was produced in our factory.

I’m working on a whole line of limited edition plain watches with special movements, which should be coming out soon.

HL: What are your goals for the next few years?
AH: Diamonds by Avi is going to be certified by Avi & Co. These pieces will be high-end, GIA certified, and vary from VS to VVS. I’m trying not to use any SI quality or lower. I’m trying to bring it to a new level. Everything will be designed by us.

An achievement after that is to open more stores. I want to come out of the Diamond District in New York as we outgrew this place. I feel our company should be somewhere by Madison, 5th Avenue, or next to the big brands that built their name. I think that we can finally say that we have a big brand.

If you want to buy the right thing and the right prices, you come to us. I’m saying that proudly because we’ve been here almost 20 years in this industry. If you do good, then your reputation comes with it. For all I know, we can open airlines; we can open hotels — we can open anything. We built a trustworthy brand where people will feel comfortable doing transactions with us.

HL: You’ve also built an extensive celebrity clientele. How do you maintain those relationships?
AH: With high-end jewelry and timepieces come, high-end buyers, including celebrities. I have always been natural at creating relationships with people. No matter who they are. I don’t chase after people. Instead, I like to have direct relationships with everyone to create that bond between buyer and seller and, more importantly, person to person. 

How Avi Hiaeve Of Avi & Co. Built His Burgeoning Brand On Trust And Passion Photo Credit: Courtesy

HL: Looking back, what are some key lessons you have learned in building your business? 
AH: Everybody is special. This company is like a car. If one wheel is out, you can’t drive. I don’t look at anyone as smaller than another person because they are very important to this company to keep growing.

I don’t look back on any of my accomplishments with regret. There is nothing I wish I had known sooner. I believe I got what was mine at the right moment and that everything happens for a reason. I had a dream. All I needed was a dollar. They say in America, all you need is a dollar and a dream, right? My dad gave me the dollar. I had the dream. I put it together.

HL: You also are known for your extensive watch collection – what are some of your favorite pieces you own?
AH: My first watch was a Breitling Crosswind Special. It was my favorite watch. I bought it for myself for $2,500.

Other than that, everything has to do with your wrist and your lifestyle. I have a big wrist, so I can’t wear Rolex Presidential Day-Dates. For some people, it looks amazing, and I love the watch. Every watch we have in inventory is based on my taste and what I think people like, including what’s popular in the market. I don’t buy things just to buy them. I purchase different watches, different styles, and I don’t feel like there is a best or any watch we sell is the best.

If I had to pick one, though, I love Richard Mille. They’re big and comfortable. I also love the bling on the Rolex Sky-Dweller. But my new favorite is the Avi & Co. watch.