Costco is a great example of that. I mean, they’re not the first company to sell stuff in bulk, but they’ve taken something that existed and made it more efficient and added value to it. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I took a shoe that’s been around for a hundred years and I just built value into it.
CC: Did you feel like it was a risk when
you first put these shoes before the public,
because they’re so different?
BM: Yeah, it was a risk, and it was also our
greatest opportunity. Sometimes the biggest
risk is the biggest opportunity, and that’s a
great lesson as well. No one [in the U.S.] was
wearing a shoe like this when we started.
There was a risk that no one wanted to wear a
shoe like this [he laughs]. When people wear
TOMS now they say, “Gosh, these are the
most comfortable shoes in the world. They
don’t even feel like I’m wearing a shoe, they’re
so light.” That, to me, was the opportunity.
Now we have a style of shoe that we can own
ourselves, that no one else has ever really done
in the First World, because we took that risk.
This year, actress Demi Moore
appeared on The Tonight Show and
explained what the event is about and
took off her shoes to show support.
Later in the show, Congressman
Barney Frank walked onstage without
his shoes to lend his support as well.
This year 250,000 people participated in the event. “It would be great if
all the people reading this logged on to
www.onedaywithoutshoes.com and registered for next year,” Mycoskie says. “It
will be held April 5, 2011. It’s really
encouraging to ... that many people do
the same thing on the same day.” C
CC: What are some of the biggest obstacles
TOMS faces right now?
BM: Continuing to find really great giving partners. That’s what I’m dealing with
right now in Ethiopia. In order for us to help
as many people in the most sustainable way
we can, we’ve got to have great people on the
ground. We partner with amazing organizations, nonprofits and NGOs [nongovernmen-tal organizations] from around the world, and
we’ve got to continue to find great partners.
If anyone reading this article is in the
business of giving or is involved in an organization that provides aid, anywhere in the
world, and you think you can also help the
people whose lives they’re working to improve
by providing them with shoes, give us a call.
Company name: TOMS Shoes
Founder: Blake Mycoskie
Address: 3025 Olympic Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Telephone: (310) 566-3170
Member at: Marina del Ray,
CC: TOMS is clearly humanitarian. Do you
also have a commitment to the environment?
COUR TES Y OF TOMS SHOES
BM: Yes. Absolutely. It’s something
that’s getting stronger and stronger
every day, because it’s becoming
more and more of a personal passion for me. As a business owner and
a CEO, I feel a responsibility to make
sure we’re being the best stewards of
our environment that we can. So,
besides adopting basic office principles,
like not printing out e-mail and using
the right kind of light bulbs, encouraging our employees to walk or ride bikes
to work or to carpool, we’re developing
shoes made of post-recycled plastic bottles and hemp. A lot of our shoes are made
of much more sustainable materials than
when we first started.
Comments about Costco:
COUR TESY OF TOMS SHOES
“We shop at Costco a lot as
a company because we
have 80-plus employees
now. We try to do things
like Fun Friday, where
we offer snacks, and we
birthdays with parties and
things like that. Personally,
I love wine. So I buy a lot
of wine at Costco.”
— Blake Mycoskie
money by starting a business, you’re going to
come up with something that’s just like what
everyone else has done. But if you look at the
world and see opportunities that can be
taken more seriously, then you come up with
a great idea.
Arizona State University
particate in 2010’s “One Day Without
Shoes,” an annual event TOMS pro-
motes internationally to raise aware-
ness of the company’s efforts to help
children in need all over the world.
CC: What advice do you have for young
people who are attracted to what you’re doing
BM: I don’t think you can truly go out
and start successful businesses and discover
groundbreaking ideas by trying to do so. I
think groundbreaking ideas and services and
companies get started when someone sees
something—that there’s a problem, that
something doesn’t work, that there’s a need in
their life that’s not being fulfilled.
My advice to budding entrepreneurs is,
don’t try to be an entrepreneur, try to identify
the problems in the world that you want to
solve. That, often, will lead to a great business
idea. If you just go out and try to make
SEPTEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 27
CC: A lot of people say TOMS is changing
the way people think about business. How has
TOMS changed you?
BM: The greatest thing that has happened in my life since starting TOMS is that
I’ve learned that you need very little to be
happy. And I’ve learned that from the people
that I’ve given shoes to. I’d say they’ve given
more to me than I have to them. When I
started TOMS I had a lot of stuff. I had a big
loft with art and furniture and all this, and I
live on a boat right now. One of the choices I
made three years ago, in doing that, was I
wanted to simplify my life and get rid of all
the stuff. The more time I spend working in
the field, giving and running this company,
the less I need and the happier I am. TOMS
has taught me to cherish experiences and
enjoy the simplicity of life, and has brought
me so much more happiness. When you give
someone something like a pair of shoes,
you’re saying, “You matter.” That message is
as important as the shoes. C