For seven years, Toms founder Blake Mycoksie been buiding his business on his now-famous (and imitated) "one-for-one" philosophy: When you buy a pair of his shoes, he gives another pair to a child in need. He's given out over 10 million of pairs of shoes in over 60 countries--but hasn't done as much within the US.
Toms announced this month that it has begun venturing into American-based partnerships and that by the end of this year, Toms will be giving out shoes in 35 states, with help from various local organizations. And his eyeglasses, which launched with the same "one-for-one" philosophy in 2011, will also be part of the new initiative: By the end of 2013, they expect to be giving out eyeglasses in three states. (A complete list of states is at the bottom of this post.)
The brand began giving out shoes in America on a "small scale" in 2008, with a pilot program launching in 2011. We asked Mycoksie why it's taken so long for a full-scale US program to launch. "It took us awhile to come to a place where we were ready and had the resources in place to expand out of deeply impoverished communities [outside the U.S.]," he explained.
Different communities have different needs when it comes to footwear and eyewear: "Internationally, we see shoes help protect against things like hookworm and jigger infections and our Sight Giving Partners see a high prevalence of cataract. Here in the US, our Shoe Giving Partners are using new shoes to support sports programs addressing child obesity and programs assisting children without permanent housing, and we've been able to fill a big need for prescription glasses for kids in the U.S."
Before launching a US-based sharing program--which Mycoksie says has been his goal since starting Toms in 2006--the brand did its homework. They've developed algorithms to determine how many of which sizes to send, streamlined their logistics system, diversified the styles they give away, and spent considerable time vetting potential partners.
According to Mycoksie, they're focused on partnering with schools that have "high percentages of children that qualify for the National School Lunch Program or the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act," as well as large organizations in highly-impoverished areas and smaller local organizations that can reach more specific needs in their community.
Toms isn't wasting any time: by the end of 2014, the company will have given out over one million pairs of shoes in America, a stat which Mycoksie calls "completely humbling."
"When I started Toms I wanted to help people," he says. "It feels incredible to know that every day, Toms is able to help people in need through One for One."
Check out a video about the new sharing program below:
Shoe Giving States: · Arizona · California · Connecticut · Florida · Georgia · Hawaii · Idaho · Illinois · Indiana · Iowa · Kansas · Kentucky · Louisiana · Maryland · Massachusetts · Michigan · Minnesota · Mississippi · Missouri · Montana · Nebraska · Nevada · New Mexico · New York · North Carolina · North Dakota · Ohio · Oklahoma · Pennsylvania · South Carolina · South Dakota · Tennessee · Texas · Utah · Virginia · Washington · West Virginia · Wisconsin · Wyoming Sight Giving States: · California · New Mexico · New York