Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie visits Lynn and shares his amazing journey

His company, TOMS Shoes, has given 600,000 pairs of shoes to children in need

Published Apr. 26, 2010

Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver of TOMS Shoes, came to Lynn University on April 19 as part of the Dialogues of Innovation Speaker Series.

TOMS Shoes1Mycoskie has been featured in an AT&T commercial, in People Magazine in its "Heroes Among Us" section, in the Bill Gates TIME Magazine article "How to Fix Capitalism," and most recently on NBC's Today Show. According to former President Bill Clinton, Mycoskie is, "one of the most interesting people I've ever met."

Sporting a pair of his signature TOMS shoes, Mycoskie addressed a group of students, faculty and staff in the Amarnick-Goldstein Concert Hall on Lynn’s campus. During his easy and breezy delivery, he told endearing stories about how TOMS Shoes came to be and gave solid advice sprinkled with a can-do philosophy on what he’s learned from the experience.

"Making a difference" and "changing the world" are phrases easily associated with Blake Mycoskie who created a company that does just that. The TOMS Shoes tagline is "changing a life begins with a single step" and giving 600,000 pairs of shoes to children in need is a lot of steps.

TOMS Shoes2Mycoskie’s participation in season 7 of the Amazing Race (he was just 4 minutes shy of winning the $1 million prize), took him through Argentina where he eventually went back to on vacation. While there he was shocked to hear that many children couldn’t attend school because they didn’t have shoes, so he went on a shoe-giving mission. He couldn’t believe how excited the kids were to get the shoes.

"It filled me up mentally and spiritually," he said.

And so began another amazing journey that led him from a small start-up business in his 1.100-square-foot apartment to a major company and what he calls a "magical" business model. He now has 73 employees, sells shoes in 16 countries in Europe and in Asia (including South Korea, which buys the most); and has factories in Argentina, China and Ethiopia.

At the end of his talk, he shared with the audience "things he’s learned:"

  • Sustainability – instead of becoming a non-profit organization and depleting his resources, he invested the money the business made back into TOMS and didn’t have to invest another penny.

  • Life Philosophy – giving feels really good and is a good business and life strategy
  • Customers are the greatest marketers, especially when you make them a part of your story.