javascript:void(0)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Accepting the ACE Award

Rarely do I ever write out a speech, but last night, accepting the ACE Award in DC, was such a special night and opportunity I wanted to make SURE that I thanked everyone in the proper way. The irony of it all is that when Secretary Clinton presented me with the award, I was kind of nervous and confused and I did not get to give the full speech I had planned, so I want to share it with you here and hope that more people will read this than listened to me bumbling up there at the podium. So, here it is...

When I was told that we were nominated for this award, I was filled with one emotion and that was humility. As I looked over the list of past winners, all companies that we all know and respect, I could not believe that I would be going to Washington and possibly standing up here today.

TOMS started as a spontaneous desire to give shoes to kids who really needed them. Faced with this need for the first time in Argentina, I did not want to simply start a charity, for I worried about sustainability. I mean yes I could have asked friends and family for donations and that would have worked for a year or two, but what happens when we have something like Hurricane Katrina and my donors are supporting the needs of the victims, or what happens when we find ourselves in a tough economic downturn? I could not imagine going to the kids we had been supporting and saying, "Sorry, no shoes this year." So I started TOMS as a for profit business based on a simple model. We started in my apartment with 3 interns, one who runs much of the operations today, and our efforts were not fueled with investment capital but a deep passion to help those original kids, and I have found in the last 3 years that passion and compassion can build a business.

With so many health problems in the world, many people ask me "Why shoes?". I did not choose shoes, they chose me, but I have learned a lot about shoes and, more importantly, their importance in world health and the life changing vehicle they can be to people who are at risk for foot diseases such as hook worm or podoconiosis. Most of the foot diseases that cause destruction to lives are preventable with shoes and basic hygiene, and I plan on spending my life preventing these diseases so that these beautiful people can live the full life we each deserve.

The original TOMS shoe was based on the Argentine alpargata, mostly worn by farmers and "common people" as my friends in Argentina say... Now, every time I go back to Argentina, my friends down there and I get a good laugh when I show them the pictures of our humble shoe on celebrities on the red carpet, runways of fashion shows, and being "guest designed" by the great Ralph Lauren for his Rugby collection. But besides laughing at the irony of it , all my Argentine partners get a deep feeling of pride knowing that it is their shoe that is helping put hundreds of thousands of shoes on children's feet in countries like Haiti, Ethiopia, South Africa, and even here in the USA.

Of all the people who have been part of this amazing journey in Argentina, there is one that stands far above them all. In fact, the reason I was so excited that we were nominated for this award was that I knew if we won, I would have the opportunity to recognize one of the most amazing young men I have ever met, and that is Alejo Nitti. He is my friend, our original Chief Shoe Maker, and as they say in Argentina, my "companero". He has been with me since the very first day. Without his commitment to TOMS and this idea I had on the farm 3 years ago, I truly do not know where we would be. You can see why this award is so special to me- it not only represents business being done between two countries that benefits others, but it is proof that when two people come together to do something special, regardless of their citizenship or language, something magical, even historical, can happen and that is what the past 3 years of my life has been: a magical journey with one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. And while I accept this award on behalf of all the amazing TOMS employees in the USA and around the world, I will be giving it to the first believer in TOMS, my companero down in Argentina, Alejo Nitti.

While this journey might have started with Alejo's belief in me, there are many people who have come into my life the past few years who have truly made this dream come true and really they should be standing up here accepting this award. I speak of my staff, or as I call them, my TOMS family. We are now 60 plus people and each person in our LA warehouse, that we call an office, is not only a deeply passionate individual, but they are some of the most talented and positive people I have ever met. Without their willingness to pour their heart into this movement every day, I would not be standing up here. If you all are reading this right now, know that I love each of you very much and you inspire me every day more than you know.

For those of you who know me, you know that I spend most of my days in far off places around the world and spreading the TOMS story on college campuses across the country, so I am rarely in the office. Many people have asked me how it is possible to run my business from so far away and of course we all know one of the answers thanks to my great friends at AT&T and the beautiful commercial they created this year about TOMS and my life, but the truth is it would never be possible to do what I do without a very special person in my life. This person is here with me today, and her name is Candice Wolfswinkel. I met Candice at a Nordstrom when I was selling shoes out of my Airstream trailer and a few months later convinced her to volunteer for TOMS for 9 months in planning our South Africa Shoe Drop. It did not matter that we could not afford to pay Candice in those early days- she gave us everything she had and once we were able to start paying her, she accepted a position as my right hand and has been leading the culture of our company ever since. Candice, I love you deeply and feel so blessed you are in my life, and I thank you on behalf of the 500,000 kids that will be getting shoes this year as a result of your tireless effort and service.

It is very hard to believe but all the people I have mentioned so far have only been a part of the last 4 years of my life and, as you can see, they have affected me deeply and positively, but there is much more to this story than the past 4 years. In fact, the only reason I was confident enough to set out on this journey in the first place was the result of the unconditional support and love my parents, Mike and Pam, and my brother Tyler and sister Paige have given me for the past 33 years. I truly believe that I can do anything because of them and I know no matter how hard I fall, and I will fall, they will be there to help dust me off and set me on my way again. I love you all very much and thank you for believing in me.

Lastly, I want to thank a few other people celebrating this special day with me. My grandfather Bernie, my many friends and colleagues who have flown in from all over the country to be here, Secretary Clinton for presenting me with this incredible honor, Undersecretary Hormats, Assistant Secretary Borg, and Former US Ambassador to Argentina Tony Wayne who nominated us for this ACE award.

So I leave you all with the a few words that a very special friend recently gave to me,

"May your days be filled with love and light."

thank you







Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where it all started

A funny thing about TOMS is how much polo has influenced the company. It's funny because polo is seemingly everything that TOMS is not. In most people's mind, polo is an exclusive sport limited to country clubs and people with summer homes in the Hamptons. That's exactly what I thought when a friend invited me to my first polo match in 2006, but something unexpected happen: I got sucked in. I've always thrived on competition, and ever since I stopped playing tennis in college, I've missed having a sport to completely immerse myself in.

Polo seemed so intense. I remember talking to a player at my first match and him saying, "When you're riding nothing else matters, because the second you take your mind off the horse, you're likely to find your butt smack against the ground." For someone like me whose mind is always racing, this seemed like zen. So that night I Googled "polo lessons, Los Angeles" and found a couple of local clubs with beginner classes, and within a week, I was sitting atop a giant (albeit half asleep) polo pony, attempting to learn the difference between Western and English saddle. Learning polo is tough. When I first started, there was no sign of a mallet or ball, just a painful, and somewhat intimidating lesson in English riding. Now, I'm someone that likes learning things fast, so it quickly became clear that just going to lessons on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings wasn't going to cut it. While I was improving, I was no where near good enough to play in a game (or chukka, as it's called) and I was growing tired of watching from the sidelines.

When I asked my instructor about speeding up my progress, he said that the quickest way to learn is through total immersion, and the best place to do it is in Argentina. In Argentina, polo doesn't have the pretense and expense that it does in the US. Growing up around horses, many farmers become skilled riders and take to playing polo as a hobby. On the weekends, you can join pick-up games - just like basketball is played on the courts of Venice Beach. Filled with a sudden rush of excitement, I once again found myself on Google, but this time typing in "polo camp, Argentina, low cost"... and a month later, I was on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires anxious to begin an intense, four-week training camp. It was in BA that I met the charismatic, slightly egocentric, and completely lovable Alejo Nitti.

In addition to being a professional polo player, Alejo also told me that he was "pretty much an expert" in everything I could possibly want to do in Argentina. When I told him that I live on a sailboat and love playing golf, Alejo announced that he taught himself how to sail (winning a race, of course) and that his golf
swing is nearly flawless :-)

Rather than writing out the whole story here, I will leave you with just a few of the basic facts. It is because of this trip that:
1. I encountered children with no shoes and came up with the idea for
TOMS and the One for One model.
2. Alejo became one of my best friends in the world and my original
business partner in TOMS.
3. The alpargata, a farmers' shoe commonly worn by polo players,
became the inspiration for TOMS design.
4. While my polo skills improved somewhat, I left Argentina with a
vision that would change my life forever, and one that I hope will
inspire others too.

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of returning to Buenos Aires, my
home away from home, to serve as the official witness in Alejo's
wedding. Given everything that’s happened the past few years - and the
unexpected catalyst for it all - it only seemed fitting that I get
back on the saddle and attempt to hit some balls around. Were it not
for polo, none of this would have been possible...










Congrats on the big day, Alejo. I wouldn't have missed it for the world :-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

As The Sun Rises

Bob Dylan plays
the sun rises
our plane is ready
the coffee strong

back i will go
soon will be back
witch's rock i will remember
ollie's point will i return?

thoughts are unfolding
plan for 2010 in the flow
give me a few more hours of thinking before i go

but with a smile
and love and light i give
for the sunsets filled my tank
and for this i have you, God, and everyone to thank.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NYSE and CFDA

If you follow me on Twitter, you saw this awesome photo of Snoop and I from Monday morning. We were at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the bell.



As much as I'd like to tell you I regularly hang out with Snoop Dogg at the NYSE, there's actually an interesting story behind why we were both there. The two of us were participating in the second annual Mentoring Madness event along with Stephen Hanson, Founder and President of BR Guest Restaurants, and Barry Sternlicht, Chariman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. We got to share our perspective on business and entrepreneurship to young people who will be the next generation of leaders. mtvU got involved with their Movers & Changers competition too, which you can learn more about on their website.

Also got a chance to catch up with John Whitledge, a good buddy of mine and founder of Trovata, for the Vogue CFDA Awards. Don't we look like a couple of brothers who should be at the Family Reunion we hosted a few months ago for Vogue's Fashion Night Out?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Digg it

I might've mentioned it before, but I really do get to meet some awesome people when traveling for TOMS. Earlier this year, I met an incredibly successful young entrepreneur who I admire a ton. He has built an innovative company, he's a creative thinker, and an all around great guy. Kevin Rose is not only the CEO of the online powerhouse and social news site Digg.com, but also one of the most influential people on Twitter, and now part of the TOMS family with the TOMS and Digg collaboration we launched earlier this week. You can hear us both blab about the collab in this video, but I just wanted to let you all know how personally excited I am. These types of partnerships help TOMS reach expansive new audiences and make it possible to put hundreds and thousands (and someday millions!) of new shoes on children's feet.



And the neon orange sole is pretty sick. Don't you think?

Friday, October 30, 2009

TOMS on campus, flights for meditation, and good new tunes

I've been visiting a ton of campuses this semester, sharing TOMS and the idea of a One for One business model with students all over the country. I really enjoy getting to meet all the young people who are wearing their TOMS on campus everyday, and I'm excited to know that telling the TOMS story is inspiring new individuals to be lifetime supporters of One for One. Last night at Purdue University, over 1,000 people came out and it was one the biggest crowds they have ever had! It's such a great natural high to connect with these students. You can tell these are the people who going to change the world!

But I definitely appreciate the quiet hours on the flights. Looking out over the blanket of clouds is wonderful and meditative. I saw 4 sunrises from my window seat this week (yes, that means I had 4 days of 5 am wake up calls, I admit I'm a little tired!). I also downloaded a ton of music on iTunes while one of my flights was delayed, and I am currently in love with: Skinny Love by Bon Iver, Kids by MGMT, The National Boxer by Fake Empire, and Furr by Blitzen Trapper.

Now I'm headed back to LA- for only 48 hours- and could not be more excited to see the TOMS staff at HQ and dress up for Halloween.... This year I'm dressing up as "Where's Waldo" which I think is quite fitting. No one ever knows where I am!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, the places TOMS takes me

Recently, I was part of a "Celebrity Tennis Tournament" back in Texas at the Austin Tennis Academy. The entire event was to benefit TOMS and Glimmer of Hope- it was great to get back on the court and share TOMS with more new faces. One of the girls there, Caroline Stockdale, told me she was one of the first people to wear TOMS on her campus. Other students thought they were strange-looking shoes, but once she shared the One for One story, they started to get on board. I wonder how many people are now part of the One for One movement just because Caroline wore her TOMS with pride :) It just takes one!





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reflecting On My Recent Ethiopia Trip










Friends,

As I wait to board my flight back home after 16 days in Africa, I am consumed with emotions, children's faces, funny memories and visions of the future. I am alone right now, but feel deeply connected to each of the volunteers, camera men and women and friends who I spent my time with the past few weeks, and I feel especially connected to each of the TOMS family members I will be returning to. I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognize this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it. Sometimes one lasts for two weeks or two months, or possibly 20 years. I have given my life to several over the past 33 years, but none of them have resonated so deeply with my soul as the one I am currently pursuing. This mission is not singular in its track, but consists of several evolving pursuits interconnected by the TOMS movement. I would like to share each of those with you in hopes that you will continue to support me and hold me accountable in fulfilling them.

The first mission, and the one most relevant to my time in Southern Ethiopia, is my desire to eliminate unnecessary human suffering through the distribution of new shoes. In one of the very rural areas on my trip, I had an epiphany that might seem like common knowledge to many. But to me, it was a way of looking at the need for shoes in a totally different perspective. In the areas of the greatest poverty, which often are also extremely remote, a willing person can build shelter, grow food and they can even seek elders and teachers to learn from, but it is highly unlikely that they can make a pair of shoes. Shoes require factories, machines and materials not typically found in nature. So in these areas, if there are diseases to be contracted in the absence of shoes, these people have little hope of escaping them. This is why we must continue to give aid in these areas, and while I am a big believer in teaching someone to fish instead of giving them fish, in this case, we must give them fish in order for them to learn other things that will allow them to improve their lives. Our work to prevent Podoconiosis, and our efforts to help raise the necessary funds to treat it, fall into this category and mission. I listened to some of the most intense stories of the human spirit in Sodo last week. I heard about women who tried to digest poison in order to avoid a continued life of shame and alienation, but who got a second chance from the Mossy Foot clinics with treatment, vocational job training and a pair of shoes. These women now have regular-sized feet, are back with the families that love them, and are dedicating their lives to informing patients in their communities that Podo can be prevented with shoes durable shoes and simple hygiene, and if contracted, can be reversed with treatment. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories just like this one, and even if there was only one of these stories and one child that would soon face a similar fate, our work at TOMS and with the Mossy Foot Project would be worth it.

To illustrate this point further, I was on the receiving side of this experience when traveling with an organization called A Glimmer of Hope.

They invited me and my parents to visit their projects and communities in northern Ethiopia, and during our trip, offered a very unique opportunity for my parents to give spontaneously from the heart. That day we were at a school that did not seem to have much to be proud of, but a student body of 1600 kids, including a teacher who exhibited nothing but pride, passion, and talent. During the program we learned that this school was in desperate need for clean drinking water. We found out that 2 wells could satisfy their need. Before we left that day, my parents committed to building one of the wells, and another woman in our group, the second well. Tears of joy ran down our faces as we learned that those wells would be constructed within the next 4 months and clean water would be available for each of those 1600 students desperate to learn in a proper environment. While it might have been my parents’ (and the other woman on the trip) personal desire to give that will fund these wells, it is really A Glimmer of Hope who should be most proud. Their organization, led by the vision of Philip and Donna Berber, allows donors the opportunity to support projects in Ethiopia with 100% of their donation going to work, while the Berber's endowment covers all operating expenses. Furthermore, it was the inclusion of us and other volunteers on the trip that allowed such an intimate giving experience to take place, and for that, my parents and I will be forever thankful. So the bottom line is this, these trips change lives, and the more of them we can organize, the greater our impact on the world will be.

Yesterday, I sat on the edge of a skateboard ramp, surrounded by Zulu huts and farmland in a remote village outside of Durban, South Africa. What I saw was simply beautiful. I saw community. I saw self-esteem. I saw children who were not just learning how to skate, but learning mathematics, geography and the idea that with self discipline and courage, anything can be learned or achieved. The Indigo Skate Camp, founded by a gentle spirit named Dallas, was the first stop on the TOMS and Element Shoe + Board Drop. Besides many talented and happy children, each wearing a new pair of shoes and riding a new skateboard, what I saw was the joy of giving. This collaboration between TOMS and Element was almost two years in the making, and while it took considerable efforts and coordination, I believe it was worth every ounce of energy. We received love, acceptance and demonstrations of pure delight. So my second mission is clear. We must find a way to share this experience with as many people as humanly possible. Organizing Shoe Drops is no doubt a very complicated and time consuming task, and I have the utmost respect for everyone at TOMS (including my mom who did the first one) who has taken part in putting a Shoe Drop on, but the transformative experience that happens inside the volunteers and recipients is well worth the effort. As TOMS grows, it is my mission to offer more of these experiences to employees, customers, vendors, volunteers and friends through our non-profit, Friends of TOMS.

Yesterday's collaborative nature further reinforced the power of partnership and my third mission, which is the need for TOMS to remain an inclusive brand at all times. Element added something to the experience that TOMS could never have done on its own, the same way that Brandon Boyd and Kristin Jai Klosterman did with their amazing art last month in Los Angeles. Collaborations, partnerships, whatever you want to call them, must continue to drive the evolution of TOMS. I believe that everyone has a deep desire to give and to make the world a better place and to be responsible for 50, 500, or 50,000 kids receiving a pair of new shoes. TOMS has the opportunity to offer individuals, companies and other brands this experience through thoughtful and creative partnerships. By doing so, we will not only extend the joy of giving to many more organizations and people, but TOMS will be strengthened in the diversity of its community.

Lastly, in speaking with a few of the volunteers and contest winners last night and hearing from a proud parent whose children have been inspired by the One for One movement, there is no doubt that people are seeing that business and matters of the heart do not have to be mutually exclusive. That one does not need to choose between passion and business, or the Peace Corps and corporate America, but a blend can exist, and when the model is sound, great things can happen. So I will dedicate the time to record what we are learning, to facilitate introductions and to speak to those who are interested, in hopes that TOMS' impact is not limited to the shoes we put on childrens' feet, but that TOMS inspires a new generation of leaders who will go on to solve the many injustices that exist today and will surface tomorrow.

As I said in the beginning of this lengthy note, one must know their mission, and I am extremely grateful for my time in Ethiopia and South Africa, because my mission became increasingly clear to me with each day there. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you and for your continued support as we fulfill each of these good intentions.

Carpe Diem,

Blake

Monday, October 19, 2009

Speaking at Rackspace

This past week I did a speaking engagement at a company called Rackspace in San Antonio, Texas - a company who is the world's leader in hosting all due to their amazing "support". From the moment I walked in, I knew this was a special place. The office was no frills, but each cube was decorated as if it were entering into a Mardi Gras parade contest. Then my host warned me that the CEO was kinda crazy, and absolutely fanatical, and to be ‘ready' when I met him. I just smiled, for I have often heard my staff explain me in the same way.














Photo with Lanham and Graham, CEO and Chairman of Rackspace


As I rounded the corner to the "support" area, I saw a strait jacket on the wall in a glass case. Surrounding it were pictures of different employees wearing the strait jacket with big smiles. I have seen some interesting fashion since we started TOMS, but without a doubt this was a first...strait jackets? Of course I had to ask.

Turns out getting the strait jacket is the highest award at Rackspace, and it is given to the employee who demonstrates the most fanatical support to its customers, someone who is so "fanatical" that they literally need to be restrained, hence the strait jacket. Wow, this is my type of company! No nonsense, all the focus on the customer, and having some fun while doing it.

My talk went great and after I was done, they presented me with a custom pair of TOMS they made, with their logo sewed on the shoes’ canvas. With a little extra touch, they glued in special orthodics to the insoles for, well I bet you can guess it, "support".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Off to Ethiopia

I spent last week at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in NYC for the third year in a row. As with last year, I walk in to this conference with such an incredible level of respect for the individuals who participate and who are making a considerable impact on the world. But also, just as last year, my expectations are blown away. The goals that are created, and the reflections on past successes are beyond inspiring. If I could bottle an ounce of the inspiration that is brewed at this conference to give to each of you, the world would be in damn good shape in about a day. They open our eyes to the multitude of issues and challenges and hardships that drastically affect lives of all types of people. But beyond discussing the issues, this is the place where action items are created, organizations hold each other accountable, and change is realized. That’s what keeps TOMS coming back.


Met up with Jessica Alba + Cash Warren who are also doing amazing work at CGI. They're both such wonderful people!

This weekend, I took a flight to another place I'm very excited about, Ethiopia. TOMS began an initiative there in 2008 providing shoes to children at risk for an awful disease called Podoconiosis. I've relayed to my team back at HQ how passionate I am about this initiative, and I could barely sleep the past couple nights knowing that soon, I will be able to experience our work there with my own 5 senses. The coming weeks will be spent far away from marketing meetings, emails and rigorous schedules, and close to the need, the disease and the people.

As much as I'm looking forward to the experiences and education over the next month, I'm also looking forward to my return and sharing these things with all of you.

Signing off, and Carpe Diem.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday Celebration

Last night, we hosted an awesome launch party at The Viceroy in Santa Monica to announce that TOMS will now be carried in the hip west-side hotel. Conveniently, its just about my birthday time, too (next week!), so together with my TOMS family, friends old and new, artists, The Viceroy crew and everyone's awesome guests, we celebrated. We celebrated all night long and it was absolutely amazing to have such a great crowd come out to support TOMS and wish me happy birthday. Endless thanks to the TOMS team (Jill, Garett, Katie, and Megan- amazing!!) for envisioning such a stellar event and making it perfect down to all the last details, The Viceroy staff for being wonderful hosts, Karma Tequila for quenching our thirst, our artists who came out to custom paint TOMS all night long: Cheech, Man One, Theo Hetherington, and Brooke Reidt, A Fine Frenzy and DJs Oil & Vinegar for pumping the perfect music, and every single guest for hanging out, having fun, and meeting all the wonderful people I'm lucky to be surrounded by.

Cheers to 33!









Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dave Matthews Band Tour on the road

Dave Matthews Band's summer tour has really taken off, and TOMS is as excited as ever to be a part of it. Who knew, when I was 21 listening to "Crash Into Me" on the radio, that this influential band would some day be sharing a simple idea of mine to thousands and thousands of like-minded concert-goers? It's proof again that the unexpected twists and turns that drive our lives should be readily accepted with open arms. Both the TOMS that Dave designed himself and the firedancer style are getting such a crazy response! I've started to notice the iconic DMB icon on cars, stickers and windows more and more and it's humbling to see it on a pair of shoes that represent an ambitious mission to provide shoes to children in need all around the world. I'm yet to see a pair in action, however, so if you made it out to a Dave Matthews Band show this summer, or if you ordered a pair from their website, twitpic me a photo!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colorado Time



After speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival this past weekend, I headed over to Beaver Creek to soak in some quality family time. We've definitely taken advantage of the fresh air and sunshine, rock climbing and fly fishing. Looking forward to more downtime this week before jetting back to my TOMS family in LA!







Thursday, June 25, 2009

You're Welcome



Isn't this baby adorable? A friend of mine from the Tribeca Film Festival sent this to me, and I had to share. Last spring, For Tomorrow, the TOMS story, was featured along with other short films at Tribeca. We were so honored when the documentary was accepted, and it was an amazing experience every step of the way. So cool to see our friends at Tribeca supporting the One for One movement!

Check out the TOMS YouTube Channel to see the trailer for the documentary along with other great videos from TOMS.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

United We Serve

Yesterday I was honored to participate in something really inspiring. The White House just launched serve.gov, a place for people to find out about service projects in their communities and share stories about projects they're already working on, and TOMS was part of the launch discussion. I can see this outlet being an awesome way for TOMS to share info about US Shoe Drops, and recruit volunteers in the future. Obama formally announced the United We Serve initiative yesterday, rallying Americans to help "lay a new foundation for growth by engaging in meaningful community service." Its great to know the administration recognizes TOMS as an agent for change, and we're excited to see Americans across the country have an accessible way to impact their communities.

Check out serve.gov today and get involved. Ask your entire communities involved. Together we are making this world a better place!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Original TOMS Mom

Hi! Blake's Mom here. I know it may be hard to believe, but I had never painted a pair of TOMS before a couple of weeks ago. I had my white pair of TOMS sitting on a shelf in my closet with a brand new set (still in the package) of paint pens, just waiting for a little inspiration. They had been there since last October. It wasn't so much that I was procrastinating, I just knew it would take a lot of time and I wanted to make sure I could complete the task in one sitting.

So, let me explain how this all came about. We have a new puppy named Sadie, a precious Golden Retriever who needs constant supervision. I've found that it is much easier watching Sadie outside where she can't get into too much trouble (or so I thought). One afternoon as I was sitting out on the back deck keeping my eye on Sadie and playing ball with Noah (our other Golden Retriever), I decided to pull out the TOMS and paint pens and see what I could create.



I started doodling on the toe of one and then I continued around the sides and eventually finished my first shoe! I definitely had no plan of attack. They just sort of evolved over several hours time.

I think the main reason I'd never painted a pair of my own was because I'd seen so many awesome painted TOMS that people had created and knew MY artistic ability was lacking to say the least. However, after I finished I was actually excited. I put them on and walked around the deck. I had so much fun creating something original and was anxious to show Mike, Paige, Blake and Tyler.

I took a couple of pictures of my shoes and emailed them to the kids. Blake wrote me immediately and thought they were awesome! About an hour later, he asked if I would be willing to paint some to sell online. He said he would make it a "Limited Blake's Mom Edition" in honor of Mother's Day. Of course I told him yes, thinking I could surely paint a few pairs of shoes if I had a few weeks to do so.

He asked me to email him a picture of me wearing the shoes and also one of me holding them.



Like I said, this all took place about two weeks ago. For Mother's Day Mike gave me a trip to LA to visit the kids for the weekend and he stayed home with the dogs and cats. Our sweet and calm little Sadie has recently turned into "a Marly" and Mike needed to stay home to monitor the situation. You REALLY have no idea!!!!

I arrived in LA on Thursday and figured Blake decided to scratch the Mother's Day Special Edition shoe idea since I hadn't heard anything else about it. I didn't give it another thought.

Then, Friday morning, Liza called me from the TOMS office and asked if I had seen the website. I told her I hadn't looked at it for a few days... and why? When I arrived, she told me to come take a look- Oh my gosh!!!! After reading what Blake had written, I was so touched by his kind words that I was truly honored to be part of the Mother's Day project.

Liza proceeded to tell me they had sold three pairs the first hour. By the time I left the office, they had sold six pairs. I was beginning to get a little nervous. This was only the first day and it had only been on the website a couple of hours! Friday night I got a text from Liza telling me they had sold thirty pairs the first day.

So, now I'm back in Arlington sitting at my table outside on the deck surrounded by FIFTY pairs of white TOMS and an assortment of paint pens. Noah is diving for balls in the pool and Sadie just dug a hole in the mud... and is trying to climb into my lap. If you bought a pair of my hand painted TOMS, THANK YOU, and please be patient! You will receive them as quickly as humanly possible and hopefully mud free!



Thanks for supporting TOMS and therefore providing shoes for children in need all over the world!! May God Bless each and every one of you for your generosity!

Fondly, Pam Mycoskie (The TOMS Mom)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Super Limited Edition by the Official TOMS Mom

If anyone reading this has met my mom, they know she absolutely exudes compassion.

Whether it is her family, friends, golden retrievers, or the children she befriends on Shoe Drops, my mom holds nothing back when loving those in her life. And for this unique gift, I love her like no one else in my life.



Besides her almost super human capacity to love, she also is one of the most supportive people I have ever met. Truly TOMS and I would not be where we are today without her never ending support.

From answering the initial customer service calls and emails to organizing the first Shoe Drop, my mom has been our number one cheerleader every step of the way and this is why we are inducting one of her Style Your Sole designs into the TOMS Hall of Fame this weekend.



When I told her about this, she quickly, in her supportive and enthusiastic nature, said, "you like my design? Well, I could do a lot more of them if people wanted them." Of course I am holding her to it.



So, for the next few days, we will be taking orders for these super limited edition "Blake's mom" shoe designs which my mom will custom make for the lucky few in the TOMS community who order in time. Each shoe will be created with love and hand numbered by "TOMS Mom", Pam Mycoskie.



Happy Mothers Day to all the great moms out there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TOMS in NOLA

TOMS hosted our first Shoe Drop in New Orleans yesterday. As with our US Shoe Drops we held this past fall, we brought markers for the kids to draw on their shoes and get their creativity flowing. We were set up right next to the playground, which was really cool to see all the kids running around, decorating their shoes, and having such a care-free afternoon. They created masterpieces with hearts, flowers, Spiderman, and polka dots, and some enlisted us to help draw, too.

Its refreshing to get outdoors with a group of kids, run around and play football and basketball, fit them into a fresh new pair of TOMS and just let all worries melt away. As soon as you're there, it doesn't matter how old or young you are, what you own or what you don't... you get a chance to simply enjoy good company and a positive environment. Every Shoe Drop is special like that.

These kids were incredibly gracious, and we all really appreciate the school's hospitality. They brought us booklets filled with thank you notes the students had created themselves which we'll take back to HQ and share with our staff.



I'm incredibly impressed with the KIPP school program, one that challenges students with an intense curriculum. These students are not limited by their culture, their financial situation, or upbringing- they have equal accessible opportunities that steer them towards success. The progressive academic environment is reflected in these quotes and phrases all over the school... I'm thinking of putting up similar signs up at TOMS to remind us to follow wisdom that is really relevant at any age and at every organization.



Friday, April 10, 2009

My Masters Moment

Two months ago AT&T approached us wanting to feature TOMS in an ad campaign. We could not have been more excited and grateful, but to find out weeks later that the ad would premiere as part of the Masters telecast was truly an honor.

Golf has always held a very special place in my life. At the age of 12, my dad taught me the game, and some of the greatest days of my childhood were spent battling my brother Tyler and my Dad for dollar skins as the sun would set. Being golfers, I don't have to tell you about the smell of freshly cut grass and the sense of possibility standing on that first tee. Celebrating good bounces, accepting bad ones, believing in the club you have chosen and committing to the shot are lessons golf has taught me that transcend all aspects of my life and business. And the greatest part... the 4 hours away from reality we experience after that first tee shot. I have always made it a priority to get away to a place where I can relax and have time to think. For much of my life, golf has provided that opportunity. In 2006, that same quest took me to Argentina where, for the first time, I was introduced to often overlooked inequities that lead to the idea for TOMS Shoes.

My hope is this is just the beginning. I envision a future where our One for One model is expanded through partnerships with other great companies and opportunities which allow TOMS to truly create a better tomorrow for our customers and the children we serve. Our debut on the Masters telecast will prove to be a landmark moment for our One for One movement and, without a doubt, a memory everyone at TOMS will cherish forever. Thank you ATT!

I want to dedicate this special weekend to those people with whom I have shared precious memories on the links over the years. To my mentors Carl Westcott and Jack Crosby, two men sharing an incredible love for golf and entrepreneurship. And to my longtime golfing buddies Joseph Robertson, Steven Patak, Jimmy Leach, Art Ryan and Andrew Palmer. To my mother Pam and sister Paige, who come along just enough to remind us it’s only a game. Finally, and most importantly, to my father Mike and brother Tyler, who are the greatest golfing partners a man could ask for. Each ball struck, bet won or lost and 20 foot putt made is a blessing we all share.



Watch the TOMS AT&T commercial at www.TOMSshoes.com!

TOMS Limited Edition Facebook Gifts

video


Learn more about the gifts HERE, and purchase one in Facebook's Gift Shop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

TOMS Celebrates 200M Facebook Users

In the past few weeks, TOMS has set some pretty steady records- we had our 100,000 customer come through TOMSshoes.com, we hit 10,000 fans on our Facebook page, and now Facebook is celebrating a pretty amazing milestone of their own.

Today, the 200 millionth user signed up for a Facebook account. I was incredibly honored when TOMS was approached to help them celebrate by partnering in a unique opportunity: the gift application on Facebook allows users to purchase and send virtual teddy bears, corn dogs, cupcakes, and other crazy icons to their friends within the network. Facebook has chosen 16 organizations who have each created 2 special gifts for this 200 million celebration- and the proceeds will be going to the organization's cause (Friends of TOMS, for us).

We brainstormed for hours on what to include as our 2 gifts- from sailboats to pancakes to a Vagabond van or a mountain of shoes, and ultimately chose 2 gifts that will share the TOMS One for One movement: a shoe with a parachute attached- a playful reference to our Shoe Drop program, and an image of one of our new spring styles. Both gifts are available RIGHT NOW on Facebook, and as an added bonus, TOMS is offering a $5 coupon for every one who sends a gift AND everyone who receives one. Jump over to Facebook and start sharing the One for One movement with your friends!



We're stoked to see Facebook celebrate this milestone with giving, by bringing together some great organizations, and encouraging all 200 million+ users to support a better tomorrow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

TOMS Shoes on CNBC "The Entrepreneurs" hosted by Donny Deutsch

Being a guest on Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Entrepreneurs," was an incredible honor. Since the TOMS Shoes segment first aired, I have been overwhelmed by all of the kind words and well wishes. If you missed it, "The Entrepreneurs" repeats on Sunday, April 5th at 10pm ET and Friday, April 10th at 1pm ET.

I want to share an email I got from a TOMS Shoes supporter and friend. It reminds me that not only are we making a huge difference in the lives of children around the world, but we’re making a huge impact on ourselves, our families and friends, and how we decide to live our life – to the fullest.



From: Rick Liebling

Date: April 2, 2009 7:04:04 PM PDT

To: Blake Mycoskie

Subject: Re: Blake from TOMS

Blake,

The CNBC piece was terrific. I watched it with my 10-year old son and there was more for him to learn in that 30 minutes of TV than he'll get in a year of school.

The big takeaway for me: You're not in the shoe business, you're in the helping people business. You just choose to do that by giving away shoes. If you were in the shoe business you would never have created TOMS. Maybe ten years from now TOMS shoes doesn't work anymore. You'll still be in the helping people business.

I told my son about the Element shoes (he loves skateboarding) and the Rugby shoes (he loves skull & crossbones) and he desperately wants a pair. I realized that buying it for him would be the wrong thing to do, he wouldn't learn the real purpose of TOMS. I'm going to make him earn the money to buy them for himself so that he can know that he helped someone else. That's more important than the shoes, and it will last a lot longer.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about your Top Secret plans, the suspense is killing me!

Best wishes,


Rick Liebling
http://twitter.com/eyecube
http://eyecube.wordpress.com/
Insight, Innovation & Ideas

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Exciting news...tonight I'm being interviewed on CNBC's "The Entrepreneurs" hosted by Donnie Deutsch at 6:00 pm PT / 9:00 pm ET. This is so exciting for TOMS and I keep thinking about how we got here all thanks to YOU sharing the story of TOMS.

So thank you for continuing to spread the word -- here are three ways you and/or your company can get involved NOW in the TOMS One for One movement!


1. Email your entire contact list. Every journey starts with a single step (or email).
2. Participate in the One Day Without Shoes. Yes, on April 16th, socks only in the office. To find an event in your area check out One Day Without Shoes.

3. Help keep TOMS Vagabonds on the road by sponsoring our next Vagabond Tour, pretty please! They need gas, food, lodging (or free sandwiches!).


Or just email blake@TOMSshoes.com your idea, there is a good chance it will be well received.

Thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to hearing all of your wonderful ideas!

Carpe Diem,

Blake

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DeFeet follow up


Here are some photos and a link to the presentation I did at the Clinton School of Public Service last week. These artists put out some of the most creative TOMS I have ever seen...