Breakout

TOMS Shoes Launches New Website for Gifts That Give Back

Jeff Macke
Breakout

Blake Mycoskie is a trip in every good way that can be said. The laid back founder and “Chief Shoe Giver” of TOMS, Mycoskie started with a concept that’s pure simplistic genius: for every pair of shoes the company sells it gives away a pair to a child in need. That’s it. No lawyerly disclaimers about “portion of proceeds” or murky foundations being funded through a fixed percentage of profits. One pair sold, one pair given to a kid in need.  

With the shoe idea showing traction TOMS expanded into sunglasses. “Everytime we sell a pair of our sunglasses at TOMS we give someone their sight back,” Mycoskie explains in the attached video.  “We’ve been doing that for seven years and now have given out 10 million shoes and 200,000 people their sight back”.

When Breakout first profiled the company last July Mycoskie shared his hope that TOMS “one for one” model would be taken up by other companies. Just months later he’s made his vision a reality by leveraging the work of like minded entrepreneurs to form TOMS Marketplace.

From a huge pool of would-be vendors Mycoskie found 30 companies selling 200 different products. What they have in common is a blend of charitable values and business savvy.  The combination is TOMS special sauce.  To make the cut for the Marketplace companies actually had to be able to satisfy consumer demand.

Through social media, presentations, and travels around the world the TOMS team found good causes and marketable products. The final ingredient is what separates charity from sustainable philanthropic ventures.

“We wanted to make sure these companies could ship… During the holidays that’s a critical time.  If a product gets hot we’ve to be able to get it through the site."

TOMS Marketplace offers things like headphones with proceeds going to help people get their hearing back, neclaces that help women in Uganda get "consistent income, training and counseling," or a bicycle that helps provide clean drinking water in developing countries.
But Mycoskie and his team aren't closing up shop when Santa returns to the North Pole. Every season the site will offer a new line of products with more charities to help. So While you're shopping for dad's Christmas present remember to check back for mom's birthday in June.

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