Give a little, get a little: Toms Shoes finds niche

Blake Mycoskie, owner of Toms Shoes, uses social media far more than traditional advertising.
Blake Mycoskie, owner of Toms Shoes, uses social media far more than traditional advertising.

Toms Shoes is in many ways a zeitgeist for our times.

It’s a shoe company run by a former reality television contestant. It uses social media far more than traditional advertising, and it takes advantage of socially conscious ideals to build a for-profit business.

Founder Blake Mycoskie, a serial entrepreneur who once appeared on the show “The Amazing Race,” got the idea to start the company after noticing during a trip to Argentina that many children didn’t have shoes.

He created a company with the premise that for every pair of the shoes a person purchases, the company will donate another pair to a needy child.

Founded in 2006, Toms currently has 160 employees — more than triple the number it had a year ago — and has given away more than 1 million pairs of shoes.

Mycoskie recently visited the offices of, where he told us that there is no way Toms would have existed 10 years ago.

Mycoskie also said he didn’t think the company would have been nearly as successful if it hadn’t hit on the idea of incorporating philanthropy into the for-profit business.

In keeping with both the company’s viral marketing efforts and its philanthropy focus, Toms is hoping to convince people from all walks of life to take off their shoes this April 5.

The One Day Without Shoes event comes as Tom’s gears up to launch another product later this year. The company will again donate one item for each item purchased, but Mycoskie wouldn’t yet reveal what that product will be.

With the launch, however, Mycoskie said he hopes to transform the company into less of a shoe company and more of a “one for one” company.

Before he left, we asked him to explain one mystery: Why is the company called Toms when his name is Blake?

More information

MSN: One Day Without Shoes, April 5