TOMS Shoes isn’t just another footwear company and founder Blake Mycoskie isn’t a cookie-cutter executive. His title synthesizes an unusual corporate philosophy: He doesn’t call himself “chief executive officer.” Rather, he’s the self-proclaimed “chief shoe giver.”
TOMS – the name is derived from Shoes For Tomorrow – operates on a one-for-one giving model: For each pair of TOMS shoes sold, one pair is given away. As of 2010, more than 1 million pairs of shoes had been donated to needy children in over 20 countries, including the United States.
Mycoskie started the enterprise in 2006 after a trip to Argentina, where he was moved by a group of youngsters with no shoes to protect their feet. When he returned to the U.S., he decided that writing a check wasn’t enough and developed the idea for TOMS. Today, a range of designs for men, women and children bears the distinctive TOMS logo.
Over a decade ago, Mycoskie started his first company, a laundry service, while an SMU student. He later created and sold a billboard company and worked in TV development and entertainment marketing before finding the perfect fit.
What’s his next step? Mycoskie recently announced his newest one-for-one venture, TOMS Eyewear. Each pair of TOMS sunglasses sold will support eye care for an individual, including medical treatment, sight-saving surgery and prescription eyeglasses. The program will start in Nepal, Cambodia and Tibet.