TOMS: a trendy way to help others

TOMS: a trendy way to help others

Sadie Goldfarb


When asked, 17 out of 41 girls in the IHS class of 2016 reported owning TOMS.  If you are not familiar with the shoe brand TOMS, let me first explain what the company stands for. Their mission statement says “Through your purchases, TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need”(TOMS).

The idea of TOMS came about when Blake Mycoskie (the TOMS founder) was traveling in Argentina. He saw the locals wearing a simple slide on shoe that was extremely versatile. After seeing the convenience and versatility of the shoe style, Blake took the shoes design and crafted it to be sold on the American market. Since the shoes worked so well in Argentina, Blake figured people in less fortunate countries could benefit from the design. The way Blake decided to get these shoes to people in impoverished countries was by creating TOMS with the ONE for ONE campaign.

The language that is used in TOMS ‘mission statement is inspiring. Using words that provoke human emotions. The powerful word choices draw forth the want deep within humans to benefit others. This want to aid others is one that is seen especially clearly within middle class Americans. As a consumer we read this mission statement and think, “Wow, yes I want to make a difference. Let me buy these shoes to make an impact on someone less fortunate than myself.” This attitude that consumers have is a great one, but also where an issue comes into play. Even though consumers know they are helping someone less fortunate than themselves by doing something as simple as buying an extremely comfortable pair of shoes, there is still a disconnect between the consumer’s purchase of the shoes, and the understanding of to whom and where the other ONE of the shoe pair ends up.

When asked who gets the other pair of shoes thanks to the ONE for ONE campaign, many people who were asked were stumped. Most everyone who had any answer at all had a strikingly similar responses. When Molly Barry, a proud owner of TOMS shoes answered the question at hand she said, “Doesn’t it go to kids who don’t have shoes somewhere?” When Carly Coughlin was asked the same question as Molly she answered with, “Aren’t they sent to impoverished children in I don’t know, Africa”?  

Should TOMS be doing more to educate their consumers of what their ONE for ONE campaign does for children in need? Maybe they should since none of the girls asked had any idea that since TOMS was founded in 2006 “TOMS has given more than 45 MILLION PAIRS of NEW SHOES TO CHILDREN IN NEED. ONE FOR ONE.”  Even though the girls didn’t know this fact of the top of their heads, the disconnect between who exactly is benefited by the purchase of TOMS is okay, because even if people aren’t aware of how/whom their purchase is helping, they are still helping none the less.

With that said, as of now TOMS is not hammering home what they stand for to all potential consumers. TOMS offers up a whole boatload of information about what they stand for on their website for prospective TOMS’ buyers as well as current owners who are interested in better educating themselves about what exactly it is that TOMS do for children in need.  If you’re just ITCHING to learn more about what TOMS stand for you can get more information at their website Hopefully this will help TOMS’ owners walk with educated pride and will motivate readers to get TOMS as their next pair of footwear.