Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflecting on the Millionth Pair


By now, you've probably heard that TOMS gave our 1,000,000th pair of shoes on a historic trip back to Argentina. Several weeks have passed since this Shoe Drop, and yet, I still find myself not only in a state of absolute joy and gratefulness, but also in disbelief. When I had the idea for TOMS 4 1/2 years ago, my goal was simply to help the 250 kids that I met while traveling on vacation. That simple One for One model that I founded TOMS on was nothing more than an idea, a project, a what if? I didn't know anything about shoes, or fashion or philanthropic giving. All I had was a feeling that this is something I must do.

But that simple idea attracted some curious customers, great retail partners, and some very very talented people who all together have helped me transform my idea into not only a company, but a movement, and because of that, one million pairs of shoes have been given and a new way of thinking about business has emerged. And through it all, I have been blessed with a new family, my TOMS family, that I now get to share so much love and joy with.

The trip has inspired me in new and unexpected ways. Every night we sat around the campfire and shared not only our thoughts from the day, but also from the past four years. Hearing how this journey has affected everyone from my first intern and employee, Jonathan, to our AT&T and Gowalla contest winners made me realize that TOMS is about much more than placing shoes on kids' feet. TOMS is about a mindset, a gateway into a new type of thinking, and as my friends from AT&T say, it's the opportunity to "rethink possible" - which is what I hope my words and observations will inspire you to do. So, starting today, I am going to re-commit myself to sharing this amazing journey we're on through this blog. I hope that you will join me.... and share your comments, questions and love.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these pics just about say it all...


favline said...

I'm so glad you'll keep this blog up. Your words are fuel for my own journey. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

This post makes me proud of my TOMS. It makes me proud that I help put a pair of shoes on one of those million pairs of feet. Blake, you're actually scheduled to do a meet-and-greet and speak at my college in November and i can not wait that event. You're such inspiration for those who are also passionate about philanthropy.

Alex said...

Blake, over the past few months I've been greatly inspired by your example. A few weeks before my birthday in July I was looking up everything I could find about TOMS. I'm fascinated with your commitment and think it's a GREAT thing! I was born in Cuba and know what it's like to come out of poverty. In my search to learn all I could about TOMS I found a video of one of your shoe drops (I think it might of been the first one) where one of your workers kinda challenges anyone who has a business or is thinking of having one to incorporate GIVING into the execution of the business plan. After she said that I immediately thought to my self, "if I ever start a business I WILL build it around giving." The more I looked stuff up the more inspired I was. All I kept thinking about was a trip I took to Dominican Republic as a child. I saw so many children all over the streets and highways that literally had nothing but an underwear if that! They lived poverty to the extreme! I kept thinking to myself, "what if I could cloth them?" Then I fallowed with a thought of "yeah right, I could never do that!" Closer to my birthday my church started asking for cloth donations for the mission trip and I was able to relate to you when you talk about how the kids got used shoes that where usually not the right size. The desire to do something kept like hunting me almost, and after seeing more of your videos and talks and reading your blogs and all I became extremely determined to prove myself wrong! I CAN make a differences if I try! I decided to fallow you in the giving, with the same One for One concept. My mission was to cloth the backs of the needy. I looked into shirt. I chose to make a shirt company and for each shirt sold also give one new shirt to children in poverty, just like you. I named the company Gofy Gottens (an acronym for the base concept I made for the business "Get One For You, Give One To The Earth's Needy Souls.") I've started small. Real small. I've got 24 white shirts with the company design I created that I'm selling to some friends little by little. I even set up a small website and facebook page to sell to friends I have in other states. They say "Gofy Gottens You BUY One, We'll GIVE One." I honestly don't know how far I'll be able to get with this. I started on the 9th of this month and it's been really slow..I've sold 4 shirts, lol.I plan on having the first drop in Haiti next summer. There I hope to go with some friends and family and do what you did in Argentina in 2006. Honestly I don't know how many shirts I'll sell by then but I hope at least 1,000. I CAN'T WAIT to see the children's faces!! A gift like that can mean the wold to shows them someone cares about them and that they are not meaningless. I've felt that myself, and I know you've seen it! I guess I'm writing just to let you know that you've inspired me! I guess I secretly wish you could give me some pointers or an encouraging word or something. I hope TOMS the BEST!! and I cant wait for the two millionth pair next year!! Thank You for your GREAT example!

James said...


I had the privilege of seeing your interview for the "Best of the Willow" Leadership Summit, streamed here in Madison, WI, this past weekend.

With a passion for international transformation, and, coincidentally, shoes, I really fell in love with what you're doing with TOMS. Would you be willing to consider opening a brick-and-mortar location here in Madison, WI? I'm finishing a double major in Entrepreneurship/Management & Int'l Business, and have recently thought about having a hand in this, if you're interested.

I'll leave my email, at the risk of spamming or whatever, to welcome your thoughts on this. I'd be honored to have a brief audience with you to voice this idea (Skype/phone/email/otherwise). Hope you don't mind be using this medium to reach you. Thanks so much for your outstanding leadership AND for not being afraid to use business for GOOD! Lovin' it,

James DuMont

P.S. Unashamedly, tears welled up in my eyes seeing kids like those who receive your donated shoes in the videos that you shared; I think Jesus honors giving shoes away out of a pure motive. I've spent time in "casas hogares" with children in northern Mexico the past 4 years and would LOVE to see your shoes donning children's feet there who are without. What would it look like to part of things on the giving end, say, in impoverished areas of Latin America along with you guys at TOMS? (I'd love to apply a fluency in Spanish [com]passion for Hispanic & Latino peoples in this capacity.)

Anonymous said...

My name is Angie Tsai and I am writing to you on behalf of EncoreStar Inc. in Taiwan. Being a frequent donator to organizations and charities such as Schools, Hospitals, World Vision, and many local charities, we really loved TOMS Shoes’ idea of “One for One” and how it can gather consumers’ power and extend our care and love to children in needs, it really touched my heart. And this is why I am writing to you today to seek partnership and to be part of this meaningful business.
We understand TOMS Shoes already extend to some part of Asia and EncoreStar would like to take this opportunity to participate and represent TOMS Shoes in the Taiwan market.
I already left a message at TOMS website, but not sure whether the message would get to the right person. Therefore, I thought I can try to leave you a message through your blog and hope you will get this message in person.
Since this is only a short inquiry via your blog, we will not be able to write too much about ourselves, but once we have established the connection, we would be able to communicate in more details through emails, conference calls or setup meetings etc.
I would like to thank you in advance for your time and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Angie Tsai
EncoreStar Inc.