“Giving is what Fuels Us / Giving is our Future / It’s the core of our Business / And its time we celebrate it” … says Blake Mycoskie , the innovative and dynamic social entrepreneur, and Chief Shoe Giver at TOMS.
“I think the word “social entrepreneur” is a really good description of what I am” Mycoskie said. “What that means to me is that you have the entrepreneurial gift and spirit to create something out of nothing.” … ” You do it for other reasons than just make a profit. You do it for the social well being and the betterment of whoever you’re focusing on.”
Blake believes that a revenue-driven business is more likely to sustain itself over the long term — especially during tough economic times when the charity model could more quickly fall victim to lack of funds. To give away more shoes, Mycoskie has to sell more. His enterprise TOMS has recently turned a profit.
The TOMS Shoes company, founded by Blake in 2006, is driven by a single mission: “To make life more comfortable”.
The company name was derived from it’s orginal concept, the “Shoes for Tomorrow Project”. (TOMS). TOMS ensures that every pair of its namesake slip-ons are soft, breathable, and lightweight for an optimal fit—the company has also charged itself with the responsibility of providing for the comfort of children in impoverished regions worldwide.
TOMS is a very successful social enterprise because it has :
1.An uncommon product amidst of sea of commonality.
2.A simple, yet inspiring story that’s easy to tell and therefore spread.
3.An accessible and well-spoken leader who’ll tell the story to anyone who’ll listen.
4.A strong culture of participation among employees and customers that’s ingrained into the DNA of the company.
To date, more than a million pairs of shoes have been given to children in more than 20 countries worldwide under the TOMS One for One movement since its 2006 launch.
In poor nations, citizens do not maintain the luxury of automobiles or even bicycles and must rely on their own two feet as their singular mode of transportation. Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
•Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential
Blake Mycoskie, was a contestant on the second season of “The Amazing Race. (2002) ” After journeying around the world for the American reality-TV show, Mycoskie continued his travels in South America, where he met a fellow American organizing a shoe drive for a local poverty-stricken community.
Mycoskie’s entrepreneurial mind went to work. Mycoskie and his partner changed some design elements to make the traditional Sth American Alpargata ( rope soled espadrilles ) shoe more comfortable and attractive, attached a humanitarian hook, and introduced TOMS Shoes to the world.
Toms Shoes – Giving Report 2010
About Blake Mycoskie
Arlington Texas, USA
Blake Mycoskie is a dynamic entrepreneur who has started six successful businesses from the ground up.
After being recruited to Southern Methodist University to play tennis, Mycoskie started EZ Laundry, a door-to-door laundry service aimed at fellow college students. The company soon expanded to seven colleges across the Southwest, with 40 employees and 8 trucks.
After selling EZ Laundry to his business partner, Blake traveled to Nashville where, inspired by the larger-than-life billboards in Hollywood, set out to create an outdoor media company aimed at the Music City’s leading country stars. Mycoskie’s renegade efforts soon drew the attention of industry giant, Clear Channel, who purchased Mycoskie’s remaining billboards in Nashville and Dallas.
With two successful companies already under his belt, Blake plunged himself into the world of reality television. Teaming up with his sister, Paige, Blake competed on the second season of CBS’ hit show, The Amazing Race, coming just four minutes away from the $1 million dollar grand prize.
This experience inspired Mycoskie to create Reality 24/7, a cable TV channel dedicated to all-access reality news and programming. Teaming up with Larry Namer, co-founder of the E! Entertainment Network, and Kay Koplovitz, former CEO of the USA Network, Mycoskie raised over $2 million dollars for the project from venture capitalists and former reality stars. The buzz for Reality 24/7 was so great that Rupert Murdoch decided to create his own all-reality network, thereby ending Mycoskie’s rogue efforts.
Now living in Los Angeles, Mycoskie teamed up with the creators of TrafficSchool.com to create DriversEdDirect, a behind-the-wheel training school featuring Hybrid cars and hip instructors. To help promote DriversEdDirect, Blake created Closer Marketing Group – a Santa Monica based marketing firm specializing in brand development and viral marketing.
As a competitor on The Amazing Race (2002) he had met a couple who were collecting shoes from wealthy families in Buenos Aires and bringing them to the poor children in the rural areas. They invited him along, and there he saw children as excited as if it were Christmas day. Just to get ill-fitting used shoes. Totally inspired, started thinking about what happened when the kids grew out of the shoes.
He started thinking “Why does charity have to be responsible for this? Why not entrepreneurship?
Make it easy: Buy a pair, give a pair – we give away a pair for every pair they sell.”
He then went back to Argentina and had 250 pairs made. But realized he knew nothing about shoes – nothing. So he put out the shoes and had women friends try them on, just to get their reactions. The women threw their money at him and gave him tips on the cool shoe stores in L.A.
A shoe store said “What will sell these is the story” and asked for a picture of him with the kids. Then Booth Moore, the fashion writer for the L.A. Times couldn’t believe the 1-1 model. The column ran on the cover of the Calendar section of the L.A. Times. They sold 2200 pairs of shoes before 2:00 that afternoon. But they only had 150 pairs in inventory.
He put ads for lots of interns in newspapers.
Next phone call was from Vogue magazine, so he went to New York. Then all the big retailers started calling –Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, etc. Then Nordstrom’s. Within a month, sold 10,000 pairs (original goal was 250). Decided it was time to start putting shoes on children’s feet (each pair, by hand).
An Argentine woman, three boys had to share one pair of shoes between them, which meant none of them could go to school every day. So TOMS was helping not just getting shoes on feet, but helping their education.
When you incorporate giving into your business in an authentic and transparent way, your customers become your best marketers. By focusing on giving, you don’t have to focus on advertising, because your customers become your marketers.
By focusing on giving, you attract and retain the best employees on earth. He doesn’t pay his employees more. His warehouse doesn’t have A/C or heat. But passionate people want to work there, and they stay on long-term.
Shoes, despite being basic, was an effective solution idea for a new company, TOMS Shoes.
Alpargata shoes have been worn by Argentinian farmers for hundreds of years, and are quite clearly the inspiration for TOMS‘ classic style. TOMS‘ version is generally made of cotton or canvas, though they’re also manufactured in twill, grosgrain and eco-friendly earthwise now. Each sport a rubber sole.
After selling 10,000 pairs of shoes from his apartment in Venice, Mycoskie returned to Argentina with friends, family and his new TOMS’ Family to hand-deliver 10,000 pairs of shoes to kids in need.
The trip was filmed by filmmaker Ken Kokin (co-producer of the Academy Award Winning Usual Suspects) and is currently being turned into a documentary for entry into the Sundance Film Festival.
Since the Argentine Shoe Drop, TOMS has moved from Blake’s studio in Venice to a 6000 square foot studio in Santa Monica. The company includes 18 full-time employees focusing on sales, public relations, logistics, production, and graphic design.
Mycoskie recently visited from South Africa where he hand-delivered 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.
Blake took $500 and created 250 shoe prototypes, and created TOMS:Shoes for Tommorrow.
Previously, Mycoskie had anticipated that he would spend the first half of his life making as much money as possible and the second half giving that money away. By converging the concepts of a for-profit enterprise and acts of charitable giving into one cohesive and sustainable business model, Mycoskie has now distributed over 1 million pairs of shoes to children in need all over the world.
Mycoskie also encourages participation in the one-for-one movement by his customers by inviting interested individuals to join him on “Shoe Drops.”
Mycoskie rightly states that “Business and matters of the heart do not have to be mutually exclusive. That one does not need to choose between passion and business, or the Peace Corps and corporate America, but a blend can exist, and when the model is sound, great things can happen.”
As you can see, the perception of what is “acceptable” in the world of entrepreneurship is evolving and changing.
Those who are revered in business–Jobs, Walton, Buffet, Ellison, Koch Winfrey, or Zuckerberg–created opportunities by defying convention. Perhaps social entrepreneurs will usher in the next epoch in global business? Could we be on the verge of an era in which profit and goodwill are not viewed as mutually exclusive?
“You know it used to make me really sad and I used to cry a lot at these things,” Mycoskie said of the shoe giveaways. “But now it’s just a joy.”
In Ethiopia, Mycoskie is helping prevent a devastating disease called Podoconiosis. As many as 1 million of the country’s 85 million people are afflicted with it.
“You can see how just grotesque his feet are,” Mycoskie said of one man. “You can bet he has lived a life with great stigma attached to it. And that’s why he brought his kids here to the clinic.”
Part of the problem is that people don’t understand how they get Podoconiosis. They think it might be contagious, but it’s not. It comes from prolonged exposure to the region’s soil, which has volcanic ash in it that aggravates the skin.
But a combination of proper footwear and washing can treat the disease.
Not that he lives the life of a typical CEO. He recently gave away most of his belongings and now lives on a sailboat in Los Angeles. “It may sound too good to be true, but once you’ve seen the happiest people in your life who have nothing, you really start rethinking what the world, and society tells us that we need to be happy,” Mycoskie said.
TOMS : The Next Chapter
Starting June 7th, TOMS will no longer be just a shoe company.
They will become the “One for One” company.
Which means every time you buy something from TOMS, together we help a person in need. We started with shoes, and we’re about to take the next step to help meet even more needs around the world.
Our One for One box is a symbol of how TOMS is evolving. And it’s not just about the next thing we make, but the next way you can help. That’s why you see a silhouette on the box – one person helping another. One for One.
As a supporter of TOMS, you’re already making a difference – whether by buying a pair, by going barefoot for One Day Without Shoes, or through any of the other ways you can get involved. And that’s not even counting all the good you might be doing that has nothing to do with TOMS.
So as we’re hoping to help even more, we’re inviting you to share your own hopes for the future. What’s your Next Chapter? How do you want to build a better tomorrow?
Make your own One for One box and share your hopes with us.
Book : “Start Something that Matters”
Mycoskie is putting the finishing touches on his first book, titled “Start Something That Matters,” out Sept. 6. “It’s the No. 1 question I get asked: ‘I have an idea, how do I get it started?’ And I think I have some ideas to help people with that,” he said.
Part of the book is about challenging people — to volunteer at a homeless shelter, start a nonprofit or start a giving program at their for-profit business, he explained. “It’s not only an entrepreneurial book, it’s personal.”
The book also makes a case for simplicity — simplicity in design, message and in how you live. “People are addicted to stuff,” said Mycoskie, who lives on a houseboat to keep his stuff in check. “They think they can’t live without it. But intellectually, they also understand how not having a lot of stuff to keep, and take care of, lets you lead a more free life.”
“We take it for granted in the U.S.,” said Blake Mycoskie, the 33-year-old founder of TOMS Shoes. “You know, I probably have 20, 30 pairs of shoes myself. And when you give some of these children a pair of shoes, I mean, it is, like, a prize possession. It’s not an accessory. It’s a necessity really.”
Book Hansen Walk
Hanson toured South America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina-where a lot of Chilean fans traveled to Buenos Aires; and Europe and performed their first full electric shows in Australia during the 2005 “Live and Electric” tour.
In July 2006, the band recorded with a school choir in Soweto, South Africa to create “Great Divide”, which was released in the UK and U.S through iTunes in December 2006. All proceeds from the song were directed towards research and prevention of AIDS in Africa.
On September 10, 2007, Hanson began “The Walk Tour” in Nashville. During the tour, Hanson continued their work against poverty and AIDS in Africa, partnering with American company, TOMS Shoes. As part of TOMS’ “Shoe Drop”, for every pair of shoes sold, the company donated another pair for a child in Africa.
Hanson brought awareness to this campaign by asking fans to join them in a 1-mile barefoot walk before each concert, to represent what a typical African child goes through on a daily basis