TOMS shoes have an amazingly simple but effective campaign to give back to society. For every pair of shoes that they sell, they give a pair away. It is obviously growing and no wonder. A simple act of kindness which empowers customers to make a choice to buy from a company that is far more socially aware than some of the organisations which are fixated by bottom-line profits.
About TOMS shoes – from their website:-
“TOMS Shoes was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, inspired by a trip to Argentina where he saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. That’s when he recognized the traditional Argentine alpargata shoe as a simple, yet revolutionary solution. He quickly set out to reinvent the alpargata for the U.S. market with a simple goal: to show how together, we can create a better tomorrow by taking compassionate action today.
To realize this mission, Blake made a commitment to match every pair of TOMS purchased with a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. “I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie said. “And I was instantly struck with the desire the responsibility to do more.”
During its first year in business, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. Blake returned to Argentina the following year with family and friends and gave back to the children who had first inspired him. As of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need through giving partners around the world. TOMS now gives in over 20 countries and works with charitable partners in the field who incorporate shoes into their health, education, hygiene, and community development programs.
TOMS’ giving partners are made up of NGOs, charities, and non-profits already established and working in the countries in which TOMS gives. Their expertise guides TOMS to give new shoes responsibly, making sure there aren’t adverse socioeconomic effects, and to ensure that sustainable giving is possible. Giving shoes to the same children on a regular basis is the idea upon which TOMS was started, and is what truly improves the lives of children and their communities.”
I have been aware of TOMS shoes and their campaign for a while. Whilst I liked the idea, there is a little inner cynic which wanted to see how they followed through on their pledge. Some skeptics will say that Blake is doing it just as a way of gaining attention for his business. I am convinced that his approach is worthy of considering and I find myself trying to figure out ways in which I can emulate his objectives.
What do you think?
Three videos worth watching – if you only have time to watch one then watch the first one at least!
The first gives you a summary of how TOMS Shoes (Shoes for TOMorrow) got started by Blake who originally went to Argentina to play a bit of polo and drink red wine!
The second video gives you an idea of the communities that TOMS shoes support by giving their shoes. Smiles on children’s faces are truly beautiful to see.
The third is a TOMS shoes campaign to encourage people to go without shoes for just one day to raise awareness of the plight of people who have not got shoes. The information about how debilitating infections and sores can have is educational. I am sure that this is just a tip of the iceberg.
The important thing for me is that this is a gesture of giving back to society in a way that makes it really personal. Every time you buy a pair of shoes from TOMS you can no doubt become aware of the connection that you have with one other person in the world who now has a pair of shoes because of you. My feeling is that this is a form of connectedness that transcends self in rather an interesting way.
Human Kindness expressed by individuals facilitated by entrepreneurial thinking – how can we emulate that?
TOMS Shoes – today
Will you go without shoes for a day?