22 Jul Ten Years of Toms and One for One
“Giving not only feels good but it’s a good business strategy. It’s a good life strategy” – Blake Mycoskie
In 2006, Blake Mycoskie was travelling around Argentina when he volunteered to help in a shoe drive, collecting shoes in a better-off areas and then driving them to places outside the city to be distributed to the poor. This emotional experience was his drive to create a new company and inspire his strategy of selling.
He set up TOMS selling shoes from his apartment and garage with a mission – for every pair he sold, he gave a pair of to a child without. – One for One. This is his core business strategy which has remained to this day. As it celebrates 10 years of business they have now given away a 60 million pairs of children’s shoes in 70 countries and have moved into eyewear, and coffee roasting in order to give to people in need.
“When we started pulling out the shoes, you’d have thought it was Christmas day. These kids were so excited to get these shoes and they weren’t even new. They weren’t even in the package.”
Blake had an emotional connection to these children through his experience and knew he could help to change their lives – he had his ‘Why’ as his inspiration to build a successful company. He came up with a plan: he formed a deal with a local shoe maker to make 250 pairs of shoes which he would sell in California and then use the money to get another 250 pairs to give to the local children.
As we always say on our Advance courses Start with the ‘Why’ – as you create your values for your team, its strategy in pursuing projects, and planning your long term goals. Blake’s work conveys the significance of the emotional connection to that ‘Why’ to motivate and focus.
Eight months after starting TOMS, Blake reached a turning point he decided to sell his shares from another company and invest into Toms. This was a crucial time to consider charity and non-profit versus a profitable business investment. He could have donated the money to provide 40,000 pairs of shoes right then but he would then have no more money to invest and would have to ask for donations. He chose to invest.
This whole core value of Giving has formed the culture of TOMS as a company. Blake developed his recruitment from experience and qualifications to focusing on an individual’s attitude as he recognised the people who wholly understood the values and shared his enthusiasm would be the best team members for success.
The TOMS employees are encouraged to participate in the Giving part of the company. They help with shoe drops and community work to experience the impact of their everyday work on the children and their community. Blake said his own first shoe drop was life changing. He took his parents who had never left the US, his siblings, friends and colleagues to see children put on shoes for first time. He believes being part of the experience enables the employees to fully understand the core value of Toms.
Shoe Giving has expanded into the TOMS Giving Partners who provide services such as health checkups, distribution of medicine and vaccines, microfinance programs, youth leadership programs, school support and vocational training for older teens.
Through TOMS Eyewear, they have donated over 360,000 pairs of spectacles in 13 countries, and TOMS Roasting Co. purchases have contributed towards digging wells in communities in need of fresh clean water.
TOMS has expanded to be a global company with sustainable profits and growth. But the core value of the company, its essential WHY, has provided its whole strategy and culture – to Give. By purchasing their products, the customer knows he or she is giving to someone in need and helping that person to improve their life. Every employee knows their work is contributing to giving to others – to digging a well, providing shoes or glasses, and improving health and empowering communities to achieve.
Always be aware of your WHY and what it means to you as a person. Your WHY becomes your core value and strategy so that you, as an individual, your team and company will all be driven by the same mission to success and improve the lives of others.