Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Shoe fashion has taken on a new trend; charity.
TOMS, a shoe company based in Santa Monica, California, has created a business model which matches “One for One.” For every pair of TOMS shoes that are purchased, one pair of shoes will be given to a child in need.
By working with charities all around the world, TOMS is able to partner with agencies well aware of the issues that develop among individuals who do not have the resources to buy shoes. TOMS works with lasting partners so that once one pair of shoes wears out, the same individuals will receive a new pair—forming a long term investment in certain communities. Additionally, TOMS is sensitive to local environments, and is careful not to encroach on the community’s shoe industry.
Often only semi-conscious when we lace our shoes in the morning, we tend to overlook the trust we place in those things on our feet. 400 million children and 200 million people around the world suffer from worms which enter the body by walking barefoot. These worms cause diseases and “can cause permanent cognitive damage… stunt… physical growth,” and often result in children having a “lower school attendance.”
While TOMS is a corporate shoe company, its business model revolves around “the giving side.” Through their partnerships with non-profit organizations and the creation of their own non-profit “Friends of TOMS,” TOMS organizes “shoe-drops” and works with agencies to heal those suffering from Podoconiosis, “a debilitating disease that causes extreme swelling, repeated ulcers and deformity in the feet and legs…caused by walking or working barefoot in silica-heavy volcanic soil, a common practice in rural farming regions of developing countries.” Fitting every foot size, volunteers work with Toms to facilitate “shoe drops” around the world from cities in the United States to rural villages in Ethiopia.
TOMS views their customers as benefactors. Instead of fundraising, TOMS has created a sustainable business by empowering “the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good.” Inspired by his visit to Argentina, where Blake Mycoskie saw children running around barefoot, he founded TOMS shoes in May 2006.
In the first year, kind-hearted customers donated 10,000 pairs of shoes to those in need in Argentina and as of December 2009, over 400,000 pairs of shoes have been given to children in need around the world.
TOMS has created a shoe revolution.
Focusing their lens on an issue that so many of us take for granted, TOMS’ has partnered with other companies including Ralph Lauren and Element Skateboards, to create shoes that are tailored to their companies’ vision. The company is also planning a “One Day Without” campaign on April 8th, which encourages TOMS supporters to spend the day or part of the day barefoot to raise awareness and to experience a day sans shoes.
Join the movement—take off your shoes—leave your own footprint.
Please visit toms.com to learn more.
(For every pair of TOMS shoes that is purchased, TOMS donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need.)