TOMS Shoes is a shoe company like no other – for every pair of shoes they sell, they give another to a child in a developing country. In case you don’t already know how it got started in 2006, founder Blake Mycoskie was traveling in Argentina when he saw children facing hardships because they were growing up without shoes. He discovered alpargatas, the traditional South American flat shoes, then spent a day fitting 250 children with their own pair.
Here’s the inspiring story:
Giving is in the company’s DNA and embedded in its brand promise. TOMS believes in improving people’s lives through business. So what began as a simple One for One® shoe idea has grown into a powerful business model that marries fun, profit and social good. Through an expanded product line, consumer purchases, and partners, TOMS giving now includes:
- Sight – For each eyewear purchase, another person receives a full eye exam and treatment needed (glasses to surgery). TOMS has helped restore sight for more than 300,000 people in 13 countries.
- Water – Each bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee provides a week’s supply of safe water. The company has supplied over 100,000 weeks of safe water in 7 countries where they also source sustainable coffee beans.
Safe Births – This year, TOMS Bag Collection launched in 4 countries with 3 Giving Partners to help address the need for advancements in maternal health. Each bag purchase provides training for skilled attendants and distributes birth kits containing items a woman needs to safely give birth.
In 2013, TOMS committed to locally producing one third of their Giving Shoes in areas where they give them away. This has led to creating over 700 jobs and producing more than 8 million pairs of shoes in factories in Argentina, China, Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Kenya.
TOMS works with nearly 120 Giving Partners (nonprofit humanitarian organizations) to fulfill its One for One promise.
In addition to One for One purchases, TOMS is the force behind at least two global issue awareness days each year. Thursday, May 21, is the company’s annual One Day Without Shoes to raise awareness for children’s health and education. For every photo of bare feet tagged on Instagram, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need — no purchase necessary. (Pass it on!)
For TOMS, Corporate Responsibility includes “focusing on the environmental and social impacts of our products and operations, responsible giving, and employee life.” This means not only making products from sustainable and vegan materials, and ensuring that suppliers comply with their country’s labor laws . . . but also building environmentally-friendly new stores, and providing startup funds for 20+ new companies with a social mission.
As one of the only company we know with a Chief Giving Officer, giving is core to TOMS work as a responsible company. In the words of Mycoskie, “Ultimately, I’m trying to create something that’s going to be here long after I’m gone.” Now that’s what you call a worthwhile legacy!
To read more about Mycoskie’s journey as an entrepreneur and insights from founders of other well-known brands that give back, check out his book, Start Something That Matters.
Inspired to get started or build on your company’s giving program? Just contact us.
– Candy Culver