PhiLAnthropist Interview: TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie Plans to Give Away 300,000 Pairs in 2009
What happens when you travel to Argentina to learn how to play Polo? You start a sustainable and socially conscious shoe company. Of course.
Well, that is exactly what happened to Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes. After visitng the country in 2006 and witnessing the mass amounts of children without shoes and its detrimental effects, he returned to the US determined to eradicate this problem. And for the last 3 years, he has been doing just that.
For those unfamiliar with the company, the concept is simple: for each pair of shoes they sell, the Santa Monica-based company will give a pair to a child in need. Shortly after starting the company, Blake and friends returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes for the children and ever since then, thanks to the company's success, they have been able to increase the breadth and scope of the project; 140,000 pairs have been given away in Argentina, Ethiopia and parts of the Southern US. He plans to give away an additional 300,000 in 2009 alone.
Tommorrow, TOMS will launch their "One Day Without Shoes" campaign, in order to raise awareness about the impact a pair of shoes can have on a childs life.
In today's world, it is all about what you can do to give back and give more, and we hope to see the emergence and success of companies like TOMS, with a focus on increasing awareness and driving social change.
LAist is a big fan of TOMS, so we were pleased to have the chance to talk to Blake about his unique business model, empowering young people, their current projects in Ethiopia and meeting with the Obama administration.