One Step at a Time: TOMS Shoes

Artwork: 

The sole purpose of TOMS Shoes, pardon the pun, is to provide quality footwear for both those who can afford it and those who cannot, around the globe. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company donates another pair to a needy child. 150,000 pairs and counting.

How did this company, that has merged brand and charity, begin? Blake Mycoskie, a young entrepreneur, founded TOMS Shoes in 2006. Taking a break from one of his businesses, Mycoskie traveled to Argentina on vacation in 2006. He noticed several shoeless children—too many, in fact, who had cuts and infections. That is when he got the inspiration to create a charity funded through business, not just a business that did charity, to provide shoes for children who would not otherwise have them. The simple act of shoe giving, he explains, conveys to the recipients that they are valued and that people care about them.

According to UNICEF, about 10 million children aged 5 or younger die from mostly preventable causes. Children who go barefoot are especially at risk. Soil-transmitted diseases, which infect the body through cuts in the skin, are a leading cause of disease in developing nations. Footwear helps to protect the feet from cuts and sores that leave children susceptible to these diseases.

TOMS Shoes has very practical, as well as ideological, goals in mind. School uniforms often require shoes. These requirements can prevent children without shoes from attending school. Thus, providing them with a pair of shoes helps them obtain an education, which then opens countless doors to them.

The company has a new initiative it calls “One Day Without Shoes.”  It encouraged people to go barefoot for a day, or even a portion of a day, on April 8th, 2010. This promotion aimed to spread awareness about the impact and value that a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. According to the Wall Street Journal, TOMS had a goal of getting 300,000 people to participate, and around 250,000 people joined in over 1,600 held world-wide. Needless to say, TOMS Shoes has had tremendous success, especially in the United States.

This company is an empowering example of someone who set out to make a positive difference in the world…and is now doing it! It shows that doing good isn’t just the responsibility of someone else—it’s up to us. Blake Mycoskie was one in the masses, yet he took it into his own hands to create a company that didn’t just benefit itself, but contributed to the rest of the world. As Mycoskie has proven, it’s up to us to not only support those who positively impact others, but to make the difference ourselves.

 

For more information, visit…

http://www.toms.com/ to learn about the company and mission or to purchase your own pair of TOMS Shoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvpSIKoFWtI to see a commercial for TOMS Shoes.

www.onedaywithoutshoes.com to learn more about and/or sign up for One Day Without Shoes.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/saving-lives-sole-time/story?id=8477918

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304252704575155903198032336.html?KEYWORDS=TOMS+shoes

 

Featured picture was taken from user Tbarr Photography on www.flickr.com, which is permitted according to the Creative Commons license. The original picture can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/barrfotography/3907301671/