I don’t know about you but I have noticed that there is a chill in the air now and (despite having seen very little summer) it looks like autumn is on its way.
No more barefeet – time to rug up a bit.
Enter my new favourite shoes – TOMS. It was the story behind these shoes, and the book written by the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, ‘Start something that matters’ that prompted me to start up this blog.
In 2006 Blake Mycoskie started the TOMS shoe company and trademarked the One for One movement. The company operates on the premise that for every pair of shoes you purchase TOMS will donate a new pair of shoes to a child in need. The idea came out of a trip Blake made to Argentina in which he observed children living in extreme poverty afflicted by injury and disease as a result of walking everywhere barefooted. Many of these children have to walk long distances to go to school, and to get clean water, food and medical help. They are at risk of injury, infection and soil transmitted diseases as a result of walking barefooted – the result, many are so sick they are unable to attend school (some schools won’t even allow children to attend if they are not waering shoes). Giving kids shoes increases the chances of them remaining health, getting an education and breaking the poverty cycle. A quote on the TOMS website proves that can happen:
“Shoes simply mean everything to a Zambian child. I am called a doctor today because of the shoes my father bought, which motivated me to keep going to school and to work hard. Shoes were and are still a luxury in this country…”
– Dr. Fwasa Singogo, Zambia
TOMS shoes are very, very popular in the USA and becoming increasingly so in the UK. They are popular not only because they are comfortable, reasonably priced and have been marketted very well – they have become popular because of the idea behind them. The thought of buying a pair of shoes and at the same time giving a pair to a child in need allows us every day consumers to feel like philanthropists. And for all accounts, TOMS follows through, in the first four years of operating they have donated over million pairs of shoes worldwide, they regularly do ‘shoe drops’ with organisations that they partner with and encourage people to join them on the shoe drop – many many blogs on the website attest to how life changing that it. TOMS is having such an impact that it has now branched out to eyeware – for every pair of sunglasses you buy TOMS will donate medical treatment, prescription glasses or eye surgery for a person in need.
The Hype stores in Australia stock the TOMS shoes however the range is limited compared to what is available in the US. I have attempted to purchase them online from the TOMS website but I have found a potentially more cost effective way to do it – via the Nordstrom online store where you can combine the shipping with any other item in the Nordstrom online store items (assuming it is able to be shipped to Australia). The shipping will obviously vary depending on how many items you purchase and where you live but, I have found that I could buy a pair of TOMS shoes and a Krotchet Kids beanie (more on that below) for only slightly more than the cost of the shoes alone at Hype. If I was to do a bulk purchase of shoes with some friends and share the shipping it would be cheaper still!
The TOMS story has prompted several other for profit companies to operate on the One for One model, such as Roma Boots, but it has also inspired other social enterprises to base their business models on giving back.
Take Krotchet Kids, the creators of the very funky beanies made by women in Africa. Krotchet Kids mantra is ‘buy a hat, change a life’. Krotchet Kids provides women in Africa, such as Betty who you will meet in the below video, with a fair wage with which they can feed, cloth, house and educate their family. After a few years women like Betty will have saved enough money to start their own business. I love that ever beanie comes with the name of the women who made it!
So, if your converse need replacing or you need a beanie for those colder mornings, jump onto the Nordstrom website and spend your money in a way that will benefit others – you could provide a child with a pair or shoes and a women in African with a job (or for you Aussie readers who may not want to purchase online from the USA- find a Volcom retailer near you that may stock the Krotchet Kids beanies and check out the range of TOMS shoes in Hype).