One year ago today I arrived back in the USA with 200 pairs of TOMS in 4 duffle bags. Each pair had been hand made, inspected and deeply cared for by me and my new Argentine friend, Alejo Nitti. I am not sure which was more unbelievable to me at the time, the fact that I had given up a secure, well paying job to start a shoe company in Argentina where we would give a pair away for everyone we sold, or the deep friendship I had developed with Alejo. I first met Alejo in January at the La Tarde polo ranch where he was introduced to me as my �polo instructor�, and where he presumed to tell me how great he was at everything from golf to polo, to sailing as he rummaged through my luggage and travel books. I kid you not, he literally picked up a book on sailing I had been reading and went into a 20 minute dissertation on how he learned to sail as a child and was �very good�, and without skipping a beat, seeing a golf magazine in my book bag, began to tell me his handicap and how he was a �very good� golfer even though he had never had a lesson in his life�.this continued as he covered many subjects, girlfriends, and sports as we walked out to the polo field that first afternoon�..needless to say I was annoyed and exhausted before my first polo lesson ever started, which explains why I fell off the horse within the first 5 minutes.
3 months after that first day, and countless hours meeting with Argentine shoe makers, driving down dirt roads with pot holes the size of watermelons, and lots of vino tinto, I realized that Alejo and I were a lot more alike than I cared to admit, and without a doubt, he had become my best friend and the strongest supporter of the TOMS idea. So much, that he put his polo career aside and took over the management of all our production�.and one year later I am still hearing how he is so �very good�, but now it has to do with shoe making.
So, as we celebrate this one year anniversary of TOMS, I want to dedicate it to Alejo Nitti and the many people in Argentina who have given us so much support. Alejo works harder than anyone I know and continually finds ways to improve our operations. One year ago he was a 26 year old cocky polo player, today he is the �greatest shoe maker in the world� and yes, that is a quote from him.
In terms of the �Tour Update�, we just left Phoenix and are headed to Texas. I must say the Chandler Nordstrom group in Phoenix was one of the most enthusiastic and supportive groups we have encountered. Not only did they sell 40% of their inventory in 2 hours on a Tuesday afternoon, they proved quite creative when taking the group picture (see above pic, yes that is a �S� I am making) Ok, Zak�s got a long drive ahead of him, and I need to catch a little sleep, so stay tuned, no doubt we will be �messing with Texas� soon enough.
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