In just four years, Santa Monica-based TOMS Shoes has done as much to revolutionize the way business intersects with philanthropy as any brand in the world.
Blake Mycoskie launched TOMS in 2006 with the simple goal of selling 250 pairs of canvas shoes out of his Venice apartment and at American Rag on La Brea. Mycoskie then gave away 250 matching pairs to children at a school in Los Peatones, Argentina. Today, TOMS has sold over one million pairs and is the top-selling shoe at Nordstrom. Through its one-for-one movement more than one million pairs of shoes have been given to children in need from Ethiopia, Argentina, Haiti, the U.S. and elsewhere — one pair given for every pair sold.
Last Sunday during a brief downpour at the school in San Pedro, I chatted with Blake about returning to where it all began four years ago and donating the one millionth pair of TOMS.
This post originally appeared in LAist.
Three short videos from our first shoe drop on the One Millionth Pair trip. Andresito School was one of the original sites TOMS visited in 2006 after Blake Mycoskie and Alejo Nitti launched the movement and made the first shoes in Argentina.
one of the boys with a monkey in San Pedro, Argentina
A few days ago, we did three shoe drops in the San Pedro area of northern Argentina. On that day, we spent nearly twelve hours traveling from village to village. Usually we’d start in buses, driving along paved roads created by the government, then we’d transfer to jeeps built for handling tougher conditions of the inner jungle’s terrain.
On the second and third drops, our jeep parked on the side of the road and we hiked the rest of the way through the wilderness. Walking through the jungle was awe-inspiring, and we were all totally floored by what we saw. We imagined out loud what it was like to grow up there.
hiking to a village in San Pedro, Argentina
The second TOMS shoe drop was one of the smaller ones, and while there were many kids seemed to go by in an instant. Like many of us who were new to the experience, we could tell that some of the children weren’t sure what to expect at the beginning. But by the time we left, they (and us) all had huge smiles on our faces.
Giving away TOMS Shoes in San Pedro
I cannot even describe the emotion felt after placing a brand new shoe on a child’s foot. A lot of the time, their feet were dirty, swollen, and blistered with sores – sometimes their feet were even different sizes. Some of the older kids blushed and dusted their feet off before we fitted them with TOMS. Some were outgoing and eager to play with us right away. Others were shy, seemed embarrassed, or unsure about all the activity.
A couple quick rainshowers didn’t slow us down as we fit a few hundred kids with new TOMS shoes in San Pedro. these photos shot with the Blackberry Torch 9800 — thanks again AT&T for sending us to Argentina along with the contest winners… Pictured below, Mina, winner of Gowalla / AT&T trip, fitting a girl with new shoes earlier this afternoon.
Gowalla / AT&T Contest winner Mina fits TOMS Shoes on a child in San Pedro Province, Argentina
Fitting Shoes at School in San Pedro, Misiones Province, Argentina
Today is our fifth and final shoe drop. Each experience has been beyond amazing. Getting to know the kids, outfitting them with shoes and spending time within their communities has been such a valuable and rewarding experience.
I can’t wait until we have a solid internet connection so we can share it with you! We’re pretty much off the grid, with a 10 minute window during the drive when a cell phone signal comes through. I’m going to post now before we lose it!
More soon, from BA!
Posted in #TOMS1M
Tagged shoe drop
Minara won a TOMS Shoes / AT&T trip by checking in on Gowalla and brought her brother Fred to Argentina!
Photos from Sunday afternoon hike to “Devil’s Throat” at Iguazu Falls (taken with a Blackberry Torch 9800 thanks to AT&T).
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Devil’s Throat – Iguazu Falls
Devil’s Throat – Iguazu Falls