Saturday, October 20, 2007

People’s Design Choice Award

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to everyone that voted and helped to make TOMS the People’s Design Choice Award Winner! I am both honored and humbled that TOMS beat out the iPhone, IBM Think Pad, and so many other ingenious designs to win this award. Thank you to everyone that made this the closest race in the history of the award. The voting was so close that they actually extended the deadline to allow for a tie-break.

It is hard to believe how far this company has come. It seems like yesterday that I was running around in Argentina with Alejo trying to learn how to make shoes… and now Isaac Mizrahi, one of the greatest designers in the world, is presenting me an award on behalf of TOMS!

I am usually so calm speaking in front of crowds – I’ve been doing it since my first business, EZ Laundry, when I would walk from sorority house to sorority house telling rooms of girls about my company (talk about intimidating). I haven’t been this nervous in a long time… I was just praying that I wouldn’t trip going up to the stage, or completely freeze up, or try and speak and only have gurgling noises come out. Thankfully none of that happened…

Take a look at my acceptance speech here.

I say this on the video, but I am only one component of the TOMS story. I am so thankful to my family – my dad, my mom, and my brother Tyler, and my sister, Paige – for always supporting me, no matter how crazy my ideas. TOMS has so many AMAZING employees that work from early in the morning to late at night to make sure that everything runs smoothly. It's funny now, but this company started with just myself and three interns that I found on Craigslist. I feel so blessed to have everyone that we do. You guys are truly my FAMILY. And, of course, I am thankful to everyone that has bought a pair of TOMS and has found joy in telling the TOMS story to their friends and family. This company and this award would not be possible without you guys!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Clinton Global Initiative

TOMS has brought me many exhilarating experiences, from giving 10,000 children shoes in Argentina to being featured in a publication like People Magazine… and this experience ranks right up there. For the last three days, I have attended the Clinton Global Initiative, an event hosted by President Bill Clinton in NYC. CGI (as it is called for short) brings together 1000 world leaders to raise awareness for the planet's most challenging problems and to set real goals for solving these issues.

In attendance was everyone from Lauren Bush (my dear friend who created the FEED Bag) to Prime Minister Tony Blair, to Mohammad Yunus (the incredible economist who started the Grameen Bank) to senators, religious leaders and even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!

I highly recommend that you take a look at the CGI site… they have podcasts of all of the panel discussions and speeches. Here is the link: 2007 CGI Annual Meeting Highlights.

As part of CGI, every participant that goes has to make a commitment that they promise to fulfill in the next year… and those that don’t live up to their promises are not allowed to return to the conference. Its pretty intense stuff. TOMS' commitment is to give 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in children in South Africa and 25,000 children in Ethiopia in the next 12 months! This is ambitious, but with so many amazing supporters, I know that we can do it... there is too much at stake not to get it done.

Take a look at President Clinton’s closing speech. You can me just rows away from the stage…