Shoes with Purpose
Five years ago, in 2006, a man named Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina. He found that the children there walked around without shoes to protect their feet. As a young entrepreneur, Mycoskie saw this as a great opportunity.
He founded TOMS in 2006 and based his new up and coming company in Santa Monica, California. He became devoted to these children. He created a special shoe for these children and formed a program known as “One for One,” where for every pair of TOMS shoes sold, a pair would be donated to a child in need.
TOMS are styled after the Argentina style of alpargata. The shoe is specifically designed to the children’s environment and terrain and is made to fit children of the ages 18 and under.
TOMS, which is short for “better tomorrow,” seems to signify that things will get better, which related to his main purpose of creating the shoe in the first place.
While he was traveling in Argentina, Mycoskie saw how much not owning a pair of shoes could affect these young children.
He noted that a leading cause of disease in developing countries were soil-transmitted diseases. Theses diseases can penetrate the skin through bare feet, which was Mycoskie’s first objective in creating TOMS. By wearing shoes, diseases can be prevented and long-term physical harm can be avoided.
He also noted that wearing shoes prevents feet from getting any cuts or sores. These injuries are not only painful, but dangerous when they become infected.
Mycoskie’s last note was that because these children did not own a pair of shoes, they could not attend school. Shoes are a required part of the child’s uniform, no shoes, no school. If these student’s don’t receive an education, they won’t be given the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
TOMS as previously stated, stand for a better tomorrow, a better tomorrow cannot be created without a little help for these underprivileged countries. Mycoskie’s brilliant idea brings health to the villages he provides for, as well as an education. Ultimately, TOMS are allowing children to create a better future for their communities.
After a year of selling TOMS, Mycoskie returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff and 10,000 pairs of shoes.
As of September 2010, TOMS has given over 1,000,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need through Giving Partners around the world according to the TOMS website, toms.com.
After giving 10,000 pairs of shoes to Argentina in 2006, TOMS distributed another 50,000 pairs to children in South Africa in 2007. By April 2009, TOMS had distributed over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina, Ethiopia, South Africa and the United States. In April 2010, TOMS totaled over 600,000 pairs of shoes distributed to children in need around the world.
TOMS has really created a sense of helping others in need. TOMS is partnered with a non-profit organization known as “Friends of TOMS.” It serves to coordinate volunteer activities and all TOMS shoe drops.
TOMS Giving Partners consists of a group of people that travel to various countries around the world for shoe drops. Essentially, a shoe drop is where Giving Partners members drop of all the shoes that One for One has accounted for. Giving Partners stay at the assigned location for about a week and experience the children’s way of life. It is a powerful experience for all participants.
Giving Partners are crucial. They must meet certain criteria to be accepted into the program. Dedication is a huge factor, they must be able to work with the same communities for a number of years and regularly provide children with shoes as they grow. Shoes are to enhance Giving Partners goals in areas concerning health and education as well as providing children with opportunities they did not have before. They must be sensitive to the community’s requests, no negative effects can occur. Giving Partners must be able to accept large shipments of giving pairs. Shoes are handed out with the joint effort of aiding health and education of the children.
TOMS does not provide internships, “there is too much change in the world to create to just sit around,” according to toms.com. Instead, TOMS has, “Agents of Change,” who are the people that enforce critical movements. At TOMS, being driven is vital for being part of the family. These Agents of Change work hard every day and receive an experience of a lifetime.
TOMS are not only making a statement for the world, but for fashion too. It may seem silly, but how do you think One for One became so successful? TOMS come in various colors, styles and patterns. They can be dressed up or down. They fit any style and are casual shoes that make a statement. The shoe is appealing to all, it does not appeal to one specific style.
One trip to Argentina forever changed Mycoskie’s life. But it does not limit just his life, he has changed millions across the world. He saw a problem and created a movement.