TOMS and how it is changing business
“One for one” is a motto that has arguably changed the landscape of business culture and ethics. Coming from Blake Mycoskie when he formed his shoe company, TOMS, this simple slogan has become many things, a statement, a promise, and even in some cases a pop culture slogan. TOMS is based on a business model where for every shoe sold there is one given to a child in need. Mycoskie has since then expanded this model into a vast enterprise that has now spread to the production of eyeglasses, coffee, and bags. He has also founded TOMS Marketplace, which is an online store that sells products from other businesses with similar business models, a group that is quickly growing. There is no argument that this is a positive change for the business culture, but how is it going to affect the consumerism culture as a whole.
America has gone through many periods throughout its history, and with a free market being one of the nations founding principles, it has changed and evolved just as much. There have been drastic ebbs and flows throughout history, with one major low point being the Great Depression. This period of American history can arguably be seen as an effect of the consumerist culture that preceded it. Following the countries eventual and gradual recovery, there was an overwhelming distrust of the economy and the big business’s that prevailed through it. Today, though, this distrust is nearly nowhere to be seen in the mainstream media.
This oddity could be a result of the new philanthropic business model that is growing in popularity in today’s culture. Though philanthropy isn’t a new idea, unique to this generation, never before has it been knitted so intrinsically into the DNA of a company. Though Mycoskie’s original model was for the benefit of a community, he stumbled upon a greatly profitable idea, which he has used to continue his work. Having sold a stake in his company to Bain Capital, who valued TOMS at $625 million, Mycoskie decided to take on both the problems of the lack of eye care in third-world countries and the problem of providing clean water to those communities. He took these on by expanding his “one for one” model to both glasses and sunglasses, with one purchase providing sight to someone in need, and coffee, with one bag of coffee equaling one week of safe drinking water. Though many still call out the atrocities that occur in today’s communities, the public conscious still stands along the lines of morality and goodwill. This is why it is understandable that such a business model would be so successful in today’s economy. The public’s distrust in consumerism is quickly overridden by the ability to be moralistic in their purchases.
The unique appearance of the shoes produced by TOMS has also led to its induction into the world of style. They are a favorite for everyday wear and can be seen on any street throughout America. They have permeated throughout culture, opening the way for many similar brands. There are now many different ways to be mindful of the money you spend, with similar companies selling wares spanning from style to
home décor. Here are some suggestions if you want to find attractive and stylish goods, while helping others.
A great place to start is with the apparel company that has been partnered with and has been working close to TOMS for a while now. The company Krochet Kids was started between three snow boarding friends in Spokane, WA. With a story that begins like the narrative of a vague hipster coming of age piece though ending in a business model that supports many people today, the company has grown from meager roots into what is now a substantial business. It was all started by Kohl Crecelius, who had learned to crochet from his older brother and started making unique knit hats for when he would be snow boarding. With the three founders still being in high school, word of their creations quickly made their way around. Soon what began as an odd hobby turned into a nice little business, with the three taking custom orders from their schoolmates. As college came around though, the business dwindled and they all went their separate ways. Their interests soon shifted towards a desire to see the world, leading them to go out and serve in developing nations. In this they found the heart of what the company is today. Seeing the poverty in these places they were inspired to break the cycle the only way they knew how, through crocheting. They were soon training the locals how to crochet yarn into beanies and other headwear. They would then sell the results in America and give the profit to those who made them. It is a business model that has benefitted many since the Krochet Kid’s conception. The aspect that ties it all together though is that when you purchase an item from their online shop, and once you get it, you can look inside for a tag with the name of the person who crocheted the item signed in pen. It is a wonderful way to support a great organization and their work, while having an awesome beanie or knit cap.
Another business of note is Sackcloth & Ashes a company that sells quality made blankets. Founder Bob Dalton has focused his business plan around the homeless population, by making it to where for every blanket a person purchases, the company sends one to their local homeless shelter. Dalton was inspired to build this business by his mom, who was a single hardworking woman but in 2013 found herself living on the streets. As conveyed by the Vision that he wrote out for his company, this made him realize that not all choose to be homeless. He then went out and called local homeless shelter to see what they needed the most. With all answering, “blankets”, Dalton had found his mission. So if this fall, you find yourself in need of blankets check out Sackcloth & Ashes for both a quality product and to support your local homeless population.
The world has entered into a new age of consumerism, one that seems to have taken out what most plagued the generations before. It is no longer about finding the cheapest materials, not caring about the ethics that were usually cast aside to make them. The business world has made nearly a complete turn around, to now care about those who once populated the sweatshops and to build a business model that is aimed towards their benefit. Not only that but this growing practice is once again growing the public’s trust of consumerism. So the next time that you find yourself in
need of some clothes, blankets, or really anything, know that you can make decisions that can have a positive affect on others.