Skip to content

TOMS shoes - One for One

Toms shoes One for One

The founding principle of TOMS shoes' business is their charitable One for One initiative, and the phrase has become synonymous with their brand and their wonderful range of espadrilles and other shoes. But what is the One for One initiative?

TOMS’ founder Blake Mycoskie took two pieces of inspiration from a trip to Argentina in 2006. The first was his love of one of the country’s most popular shoe styles, the espadrille (or alpargata). The second was an egalitarian desire to combat the problem of impoverished families being unable to afford shoes, and the issues that resulted from that inability, ranging from disease to children being unable to walk to school.

Mycoskie combined these and came up with what he called the “Shoes for Tomorrow Project”, which he eventually shortened to TOMS. His plan was to create a for-profit business that had a charitable giving aspect built into it from the start, and the company trademarked the phrase “One for One” as the perfect description for their model; for every pair of shoes they sold to a consumer, they would donate another pair to someone in need.

Before they’d even hit the six months mark, TOMS were delivering their first donation of 10,000 pairs of shoes to Argentina, and other milestone numbers quickly followed. A year after their first donation, 50,000 pairs of TOMS espadrilles were delivered to South African children, and by 2009 - merely three years after the company was founded - they had donated 140,00 pairs of shoes. The surpassed the one million pairs mark in 2012, the ten million mark in 2013 and have given away hundreds of thousands more since.

What’s more, the One for One initiative isn’t restricted to just shoes. TOMS have branched out into new areas, their charitable giving has followed suit. Sales of their eyewear range have helped restore the eyesight over 300,000 people through providing glasses as well as medical treatments and surgery.

Every sale of their bags of TOMS Roasting Co. coffee beans creates a donation of 140 liters of safe water to someone in a developing country, the equivalent of a week’s supply and a vital commodity in many nations. Finally, sales of their bags go toward helping women give birth in a safe manner, through birth kits and training for birth attendants.

Despite all the good work that the initiative has done, Mycoskie and the rest of the TOMS team are determined to do more. Their next aim is to help solidify the improvements that their donations have brought about by helping to make the countries they donate to self-sustaining through the creation of jobs linked to TOMS. The company anticipates having one-third of all their shoes produced in the countries they donate too in the very near future.

Leave a comment