There are few brands who can boast the humanitarian achievements of TOMS, who have given 45 million pairs of shoes to children in need all around the world. Their philosophy is simple: with every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One®. As we proudly welcome TOMS to the Myer family this week, we caught up with TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie to hear more about how TOMS is making a difference, and how you can too…
Myer: Tell us the story about how TOMS came to be?
Blake Mycoskie: In 2005 I traveled to Argentina with the intention of learning polo and ended up taking part in my first shoe giving experience. After that experience I felt compelled to create a company that would do something meaningful. I wanted the design of the shoes to reflect the heritage of Argentina, where this movement all began, and landed on the Alpargata, the classic style eponymous with TOMS.
M: What are some of the things that TOMS do, that people may not be aware of?
BM: In 2006 we were a shoe company, but I had always known that the One for One model could do much more than just give shoes. In 2011 we launched TOMS Eyewear, which also has a One for One model, for each pair of sunglasses or optical frames purchased we’ll help restore sight to a person in need. This means that we’ll help our Giving Partners provide sight-restorative cataract surgery, provide prescription medicine, or provide prescription lenses and optical frames. To-date we’ve given 45 million pairs of shoes to children in need and restored sight to 325,000 people in need.
M: Tell us about the One to One® model?
BM: The One for One idea was essential to the inception of TOMS. When I first met these children in Argentina who didn’t have shoes, I wanted to give them the shoes that they needed to go to school. I recognized that giving them shoes once or even twice was not really going to be effective. They needed a commitment of shoes on an ongoing basis, over and over again. That was the spark I needed to drive the business and grow TOMS. My vision for TOMS and what our impact can be around the world is to allow customers to give back through all kinds of products. Each purchase that you make through TOMS will help a person in need.
M: How can everyday people help and what sort of a difference can they make?
BM: I think it all comes down to feeling connected to the mission. The fact that all of our products have a measureable give-back (one for one) makes our customers feel truly attached to our products and the give associated with them. Everyone can make a difference in the world, and purchasing a pair of TOMS is one way to start!
M: What do you hope to achieve with TOMS in the future?
BM: I’m so glad and humbled that so many other social entrepreneurs and businesses have been influenced by TOMS. I hope to see more and more businesses moving forward with similar business models. At the end of the day, as long as one person buys something that helps one person in need — and it’s done responsibly and sustainably — it’s a win in my book.
Shop TOMS online here.