TOMS Shoes was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, inspired by a trip to Argentina where he saw the traditional Argentine alpargata shoe, but also the extreme poverty and health conditions of the area. 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 new pair of 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," Blake 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 to lead his first Shoe Drop during which he gave back to the children who had inspired him. In November 2007, TOMS had its second Shoe Drop, giving 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in South Africa. And in the Fall of 2008, TOMS embarked on its first Shoe Drop in the United States, giving shoes in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Florida. Most of the new shoes are distributed through giving partners; however, TOMS employees, retailers and volunteers still go on Shoe Drops.
The TOMS Classics shoes have a unique slip-on design comprised of clean lines and lightweight fabrics in vibrant colors and prints. TOMS Shoes are now available in multiple colors, silhouettes and fabric combinations for men and women and include a line of shoes for toddlers called Tiny TOMS. The collection is available at specialty stores and retailers across the United States, including Nordstrom.
In 2007, TOMS Shoes was honored with the prestigious People's Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Two years later, Blake and TOMS received the 2009 ACE award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which recognizes companies' commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation, exemplary practices, and democratic values worldwide.
ACU is honored to host Blake on September 13, as he speaks to ACU students and the Abilene community about mission, service, and generosity.
For every pair of TOMS purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need.