The story of Tom Shoes and its inspiring founder Blake Mycoskie. Tom’s Shoes became successful largely due to a unique concept in which every pair of new Toms shoes purchased results in another pair of shoes being given free to somebody impoverished, a business model now known as ‘one for one’.
Mycoskie traveled to Argentina in 2006 and noticed that the local polo players were all wearing a form of shoes called Alpargatas, a simple slip on style of shoe that he himself started to wear. Later in the trip he noticed that many children he encountered were not wearing any shoes at all. He had the idea that he’d develop a form of the Alpargata shoe for the North American market and use part of the profit to donate shoes to kids in Argentina and other impoverished people throughout the world. He started immediately. The concept is now known as the ‘one for one concept’ and has been replicated by many other social minded entrepreneurs.
His first production run was just 250 pairs, but soon after his product was featured in the LA Times and he received orders for nine times the amount of stock that he had at his disposal, in the first six months of operation he had sold 10,000 pairs of shoes and the same number were distributed to kids in Argentina. Within just a few years the shoes were stocked by 500 retailers globally and 2 million pairs of free shoes had been distributed globally.
Blake Mycoskie published an autobiography through Spiegel & Grau in 2012, Start Something That Matters. The book quickly became a New York Times #1 Bestseller and has achieved fantastic reviews from buyers. He writes extensively about his motivations behind creating the Toms brand, his experiences in building the business, and about the strategy behind his revolutionary one for one business model, as well as about numerous other inspiring social entrepreneurs. The book is available in paperback, hardcover, and kindle editions.