Blake Mycoskie founder of the stylish, yet philanthropically conscious TOMS shoes is a dynamic entrepreneur with a unique philosophy. For every pair of Toms shoes purchased, a pair are donated to a child in need somewhere in the world. Blake has traveled the world hand-delivering thousands of pairs of shoes to children in need. Mycoskie currently lives on a boat in Los Angeles.
1. How did you come up with the idea and concept for Tom’s shoes?
I was traveling in Argentina in 2006, just on vacation, and came across so many children who did not have shoes. Their feet had cuts and infections, and there I had the idea to start a shoe company that would serve as a sustainable way of giving. With every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. If I had created a non-profit, we would have been able to give shoes once, or maybe twice, but by developing this One for One model, we have been able to return to these communities and other areas across the world with shoes for children in need.
2. Where did your philanthropic drive come from?
My family influenced my siblings and I to be positive people and treat others fairly. The morals and values they instilled in me have absolutely influenced the decisions I’ve made and the direction I’ve taken with TOMS.
3. What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge was the fact that we had no experience making shoes when we started in 2006, so learning production, quality control, inventory and all the other business parts of being a shoe and fashion company. No one on our team really had any experience, but our passion behind an idea has been the biggest driving force behind TOMS.
4. What has been the greatest reward?
Being able to see what was just an idea three years, come to fruition and be successful. To date, TOMS has given over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world.
5. Do you plan on going public with Tom’s?
Not at this time.
6. What are your future plans for Tom’s?
We have a lot of amazing initiatives and news in the weeks and months ahead. One initiative we are focusing a lot of our attention on is a condition called Podoconiosis, a soil-transmitted disease caused by walking in silica-rich soil. Over a million people are suffering from this disease in Ethiopia. It causes extreme swelling in the feet and lower legs, and open sores and ulcers develop. But what’s incredible is its 100% preventable with shoes. Now, we are giving a special shoe in Ethiopia five days a week.
7. If you could give a pair of shoes (and then have a few drinks with) one person alive or dead/fictional or real who would that be:
Sir Richard Branson