Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS
Blake Mycoskie is the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, and the person behind the idea of One for One, which has turned into a global movement. TOMS has given over two million pairs of new shoes to children in need since it began in 2006. The company also recently expanded its unique business model to include TOMS Eyewear, helping to save and restore sight for those in need.
TOMS humble beginnings happened unintentionally. While traveling in Argentina in 2006, Blake witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. His solution to the problem was simple, yet revolutionary: to create a for-profit business that was sustainable and not reliant on donations. Blake’s vision soon turned into the simple business idea that provided the powerful foundation for TOMS.
Over the course of its first five years, TOMS was successful enough in providing shoes for children in need. But Blake, having recognized other vital needs during his travels around the world, realized that One for One could be applied to more than shoes. He developed the idea for TOMS Eyewear in which for every pair of eyewear purchased, TOMS would help give sight to a person in need. One for One.
In the fall of 2011, Blake released his first book, Start Something That Matters, offering his own amazing story of inspiration, and the power of incorporating giving in business. He references other companies and individuals who have been motivated and inspired to integrate philanthropy into their profession as well as their personal lives. The book became a New York Times best-seller. More importantly, it is Blake’s hope that Start Something That Matters inspires others to turn their passion and dreams into a reality.
From shoes to eyewear and now a book, Blake’s unique approach to business has awarded him with numerous accolades. In 2009, Blake and TOMS received the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award of Corporate Excellence (ACE). At the Clinton Global Initiative University plenary session, former President Clinton introduced Blake to the audience as “one of the most interesting entrepreneurs (I’ve) ever met.” People Magazine featured Blake in its “Heroes Among Us” section, and TOMS Shoes was featured in the Bill Gates Time Magazine article “How to Fix Capitalism.” In 2011, Blake was named on Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list, recognizing him as one of the top young businessmen in the world.
Before TOMS, Blake, a native of Texas who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, started five businesses. His first was a successful campus laundry service, which he later sold. Between business ventures, Blake competed in the CBS primetime series, The Amazing Race. With his sister, Paige, Blake traveled the world and came within minutes of winning the $1 million dollar grand prize.
Blake is an avid reader and traveler. He is passionate about inspiring young people to help make tomorrow better, encouraging them to include giving in everything they do. His hope is to see a future full of social-minded businesses and consumers.