Today’s Feature, April 13-14, 2007: Blake Mycoskie – TOMS Shoes

January 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm (Today's Feature)

Blake Mycoskie and TOMS Shoes Blake Mycoskie decided he needed a break. Putting his life on hold, he took an extended vacation traveling to South America, Brazil, Uraguay and finally Argentina. That final stop would change Mycoskie’s life and the fashion world, forever. In January of 2006, Mycoskie quickly absorbed himself in the Argentine culture; he learned to sail, tango, even play competitive polo. It was at this time he became inspired. Not by dancing or sports but by the need to help the impoverished people in Argentina. Mycoskie visited villages without fresh water and where few, if any, of the children had shoes. His answer; TOMS Shoes, the shoes for tomorrow. Mycoskie made a commitment, matching every pair of TOMS purchased with a pair to a child in need. It’s simple…you buy a pair of TOMS and TOMS gives a pair to a child on your behalf. Since releasing the TOMS line, he has graced magazines such as Vogue, Oprah, TIME, Elle, OK and many more. On any given day you can spot celebrities all around Hollywood showcasing his designs. All this because he decided to do what know one in fashion has ever done and create a following so large, so fast, he is now one of the elite designers. Mycoskie is a visionary, humanitarian and example for the rest of the fashion world. Read his XXQs to hear more about Blake Mycoskie and the TOMS cause.

XXQs: TOMS – Blake Mycoskie PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did TOMS begin?

Black Mycoskie (BM): I was down in Argentina when I stumbled across this shoe called the apragato. It was very similar to today’s TOMS. Except it had a rope sole. I was down in Argentina and this shoe was becoming very trendy I bought a pair and started to wear them myself. On my last week in Argentina I wanted to do some volunteer work. So I went to these villages only to find these young kids with horribly beat up feet. I asked the translator why they looked healthy except for there feet and she explained that they had to walk 2 miles each day to get fresh water for there families. And then it hit me I was going to take this traditional argentine shoe and for every pair I sold I would give a pair to a child.

PEV: Describe the feeling of now seeing your idea come to life.

BM: It is amazing. This isn’t the first company I’ve started but it is by far my favorite. I was once told by a great entrepreneur “the more you give the more you live” I finally understand what he meant when he told me this

PEV: Have you always been interested in the fashion industry?

BM: No. I Was in technology I hadn’t the slightest idea about fashion.

PEV: Do you remember the first pair of shoes you sold?

BM: Yea I gave them to a friend and told them I was turning down a highly lucrative position in technology to give kids shoes. They thought I was nuts.

PEV: The TOMS commitment is remarkable and touching. I don’t know of any other shoe company, let alone a clothing company that gives away a free pair of shoes for every one that is purchased. Why aren’t other fashion lines doing the same thing?

BM: There are other lines that donate profit to certain organizations but its only a percentage. I think this 1 for 1 model is incredible though. I am sure it’s only a matter of time till others start doing the same

PEV: How many pairs of TOMS have you given to needy children so far?

BM: We gave away 10,000 pairs in Argentina last fall and we are shooting to give away 100 this fall in Africa.

PEV: Describe your creative process.

BM: I really love it. Everything just sort of comes to me. I have always been creative but never had a chance to express it and now I do. Creating and designing the shoe is one of my favorite aspects of the business.

PEV: What has been the hardest thing you’ve encountered in the fashion world?

BM: The fashion world has been incredibly accepting to me because of the cause. I really don’t think this is the norm in the fashion industry. The hardest thing is just learning all the ins and out of the industry. Seasons time frames shipping all the logistics are new to me but I am learning and I love it.

PEV: Tell us about the “Special Edition” line of TOMS. Can we expect more?

BM: Tyler Ramsey, an artist from Hollywood hand-painted them and there are definitely more special editions coming in the future.

PEV: What was it like to go back to Argentina (where the TOMS concept began) and see your progress?

BM: It was incredible. I can’t tell you wonderful it was to give these kids who had never received a gift before a brand pair new shoes it was Life changing.

PEV: You have quite a celebrity following. How does that make you feel to know that celebrities are wearing your shoes?

BM: It makes me realize that these shoe are empowering and people feel that there making a difference when the wear them. I think it’s just wonderful to have the support of such high profile people. It also shows that I’m not the only one who thinks this is a great cause.

PEV: Are you involved in organizations who share the similar “global issues” interests as TOMS?

BM: We are working quite a bit with invisible children. They are an awesome organization helping with the problem in Uganda we are going to participate in their displace me event on April 28. I am really looking forward to it.

PEV: What is the best advice you can give someone to, as you say, “make life more comfortable”?

BM: Get a pair of TOMS, haha… And remember buy helping others become more comfortable you’ll be more comfortable you self.

PEV: How many people work directly for TOMS?

BM: We have about 11 full time employees and 5 interns

PEV: Do you plan to offer new types of clothing?

BM: Not at the moment

PEV: What advice can you give an aspiring fashion designer?

BM: Work hard and believe in yourself. It’s up to you how bad you really want it.

PEV: You have traveled quite a bit. What has been your favorite city to visit?

BM: There is nothing better than traveling to villages in the outskirts to lend a helping hand.

PEV: When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?

BM: Well that never happens. But I just sold my loft and bought I boat to live on. So right now I am learning to sail. I love learning new things but TOMS has taken over my life for now and I am enjoying it.

PEV: You can wear TOMS for business and pleasure. Not many people can say that about their product. What is your secret? B M: There is no secret it’s simple “your purchase guarantees a child shoes for Tomorrow” That really makes these shoes empowering and with something like that why not wear them everywhere you go. It’s one of the few forms of fashion that you can really feel good about wearing

PEV: So, what is next for Blake Mycoskie and TOMS?

BM: I plan to keep building the TOMS brand so I can give away more shoes. To find out more about Blake Mycoskie and TOMS Shoes, go to: http://www.TOMSShoes.com

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