Tomorrow’s (TOMS) shoes is the entrepreneaurial creation of Blake Mycoskie. The concept of the company was born during Mycoskie’s travels through South America where he observed many children walking around streets with no shoes -making their feet prone to injury and disease. Once back in his California home, he designed a shoe modeled after the traditional Argentinian alpargata.
The company’s One for One initiative established the pledge that for each shoe purchased, they would donate a pair to communities in need. While Mycoskie’s original goal was to donate 250 shoes, the popularity of his shoes surpassed his expectations. Recently, One for One project celebrated the donation of its one millionth pair.
One Day Without Shoes is an annual event held on April 10th where TOMS shoes encourages the public to forego donning shoes and serve as a living campaign for the cause.
[A video about the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4VN34iCi2Q]
While the achievement of one million donations is commendable, a debate exists on the effectiveness of the company. One concern is that TOMS is invading on the patronage of local shoe businesses. The more pronounced criticism is that this project is not addressing the root of the problem in these communities: poverty. The argument lies in that TOMS shoes is simply satiating a first-world country’s desire to pat themselves on the back by providing only immediate and transient relief for the beneficiaries. Companies like Oliberte comparable to TOMS are instead recognized and praised for going one step further creating jobs and business for the locals, allowing them to rise from poverty.
Nonetheless, the motive for TOMS is admirable. An individual had an idea rooted from compassion, worked for his unwavering vision, and succeeded to translate the message to the world about caring for issues beyond geographic borders, if not create lasting change in small communities.
Regardless of whether you decide to go barefoot today, the challenge is this: have gratitude for the life, people, and things that you have. If you feel inspired enough, work with love to give others what you are lucky to have.