Start Something That Matters
“Start Something That Matters” is a saying that Blake Mycoskie lives by example. As evidenced by this quote written in foot-high, wooden letters on an upstairs landing and a painting on the wall of his Los Angeles office/man cave of his shoe and accessories company, TOMS.
In 2006 Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas, started the company TOMS selling a canvas shoe based on the Argentine alpargata design. The name “TOMS” is derived from the name “tomorrow”, and evolved from the concept, “Shoes for Tomorrow Project”
According to Mycoskie, when he was doing some volunteer work in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, he noticed that many of the children were running in the streets barefooted, and he decided that he wanted to develop a kind of alpargata for the North American market, with the goal that for every pair sold he would provide a new pair of shoes free of charge to needy children in Argentina and other developing nations.
Offering them shoes was more than helping them be more comfortable, but to help save lives. The lack of shoes is a major contributor to diseases children in developing countries contract through their bare feet.
TOMS business is based on what is known as the “one for one concept” business model, referring to the company’s promise to deliver a pair of free, new shoes to a child in need for every sale of their retail product.
Shoes, Bags, Eyewear and Coffee?
It wasn’t long until TOMS branched out into other items using the same business model. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants as well as birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby. When Toms sells a pair of TOMS Eye Wear, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. In 2015, he started TOMS Roasting Co. a coffee company that works with other organizations they refer to as “giving partners” to provide 140 liters of safe water (a one-week supply) to a person in need.
Social Entrepreneurship As A Lifestyle
TOMS was not the first to live the example of ‘Social Entrepreneurship’, but has been one of the most visible. Many businesses have been inspired to follow his lead.
Promoting social entrepreneurship is one of Blake Mycoskie’s main goals. On August 20, 2014 Bain Capital acquired 50% of TOMS. The transaction valued the company at $625 million and Mycoskie plans to use half of the proceeds from the sale to start a fund supporting socially minded entrepreneurship.
While TOMS does not declare Christianity or any other value system as a motivation for what he does, his example of what can be accomplished when one person decides to “Do Something That Matters”!
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