The idea that inspired Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, was simple: to start a company that, for every pair of shoes sold, would give a complimentary pair to someone in need—one for one. The idea came to him after travelling in South America, where he encountered children without shoes in poverty-stricken villages. “I was instantly struck with the desire—the responsibility—to do more,” says Mycoskie. It became a reality when he launched TOMS in 2006, a collection of trendy canvas slip-ons fashioned after alpargatas, a traditional Argentine shoe. Mycoskie’s One for One concept has proven to be a success, and the company has taken off.
In 2006, Mycoskie visited Argentina, and after befriending the children of a small village who had no shoes to protect their feet, planned to return with 250 pairs of shoes. He did return later that year, but with an astounding 10,000 pairs. “When I started [TOMS] I was still running another company at the time and thought it would be a nice kind of personal philanthropy project on the side,” says Mycoskie. “I didn’t really ever anticipate it being as big as it’s become.” Since its inception, TOMS has donated more than 115,000 pairs of shoes around the world. “We might only publicize a big shoe-drop every once in a while, but we’re actually giving shoes out every day,” explains Mycoskie.
As TOMS keeps on growing, Mycoskie and his One for One concept are sure to benefit the lives of many more.