TOMS: Profile of an Impact Brand

TomsTOMS Shoes, Eyewear and Clothing Are available internationally from: | | | | | |

Founded in 2006, TOMS is a for-profit company based in Santa Monica, California, that operates TOMS Shoes, TOMS Eyewear and the non-profit subsidiary, Friends of TOMS. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas. Giving shoes to the same children on a regular basis is the idea upon which TOMS was started, and is what truly improves the lives of children and their communities.

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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 was founded on a simple premise: With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One®. With our customers and Giving Partners, we’re transforming everyday purchases into a force of good around the world.”


Big Idea:   Toms’ big idea was the “one for one concept” business model, referring to the company’s promise to deliver a pair of free, new shoes to a child in need for every sale of their retail product.  With every product you purchase from TOMS Shoes, Eyewear or Clothing we will help a person in need. One for One

  • Sector: Manufacturing & Retail
  • Niche(s): Shoes, Eyewear, Clothing
  • Revenue Model(s): Retail Sales
  • Distribution Channels:


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.

Since 2006 TOMS has:

  • Given 10 million pairs of shoes to needy children in Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Rwanda, South Africa, the United States and 59 countries around the world and expects to give away 10 million more by 2015
  • Developed a network of Giving Partners in 60+ countries, including the United States
  • Grown beyond producing shoes now selling eyewear and apparel globally, including more than more than 150,000 pairs of sunglasses since 2012–and in turn has helped deliver eye care to more than 150,000 people in 13 countries
  • Created a self-sustaining business that is projecting sales of over $300M for 2013

“‘What could Toms do better?’” Blake asks…

“I’ve learned that the keys to poverty alleviation are education and jobs. And we now have the resources to put investment behind this. Maybe five years from now, we’ll be able to say it’s really good for business. But the motivator now is, How can we have more impact? At the end of the day, if we can create jobs and do one-for-one, that’s the holy grail.”  

Read TOMS Giving Report 2013 [pdf]


TOMS first officially began selling its shoes in May 2006.  The company was self-funded, from the sale of  Mycoskie’s online driver education company for $5,000…

Key Milestones:

  • Seed Capital <$5,000 - Self-Funded
  • Cash-Flow – TOMS has expanded its product manufacturing to include Shoes, Eyewear and Clothing lines under the TOMS brand and One for One Business Model and is projecting over $300 million in total sales for 2013
  • Early Win - After an article ran in the Los Angeles Times, the company received order requests for nine times the available stock online, and 10,000 pairs were sold in the first six months.
  • Giving Back – The first batch of free shoes were distributed in October 2006 to Argentine children, the number was equivalent to the amount of inventory sold: ten thousand
  • Brand Origination - The company name (TOMS) is derived from the word “tomorrow,” and evolved from the original concept, “Shoes for Tomorrow Project”


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