By Blake Mycoskie
Written by Blake Mycoskie, Start Something That Matters tells the story of how the TOMS shoe line was started. While Blake was vacationing in Argentina he got used to wearing a very popular shoe called the alpargata. After noting that the casual soft shoes were worn by nearly everyone, from students to polo players, he wondered if there might be demand for this type of shoe in the United States.
Once Blake investigated the market more thoroughly, he decided to launch a similar line of shoes in the U.S. under the brand name of TOMS (which originated from “Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”). In addition to selling a new type of shoe, the key differentiator between TOMS and other shoe businesses is that Blake decided to give away one pair of shoes for every pair that was sold. The free pairs are donated to poor Argentinean children who don’t have any shoes.
Giving a free pair of shoes away with every sale is not only charitable, but it also got Blake a lot of publicity for TOMS. Shoe buyers and customers liked the story and were immediately attracted to the brand. He recounts stories of people who told the TOMS story to others, thus creating a buzz around the brand.
Think of it as shoe story gone viral.