Social Business: Toms Shoes and $400 Million of Impactful Capital
When he founded Toms, Blake Mycoskie reinvented the idea of a company that does well while doing good. So what's next for him? Doing that again.
Blake Mycoskie is the most relaxed intense person you will ever meet. Two days after this year's Academy Awards, Mycoskie sits in his world-bazaar-flavored office, one leg hooked over the arm of a chair, sipping sparkling water and munching almonds from Whole Foods. He seems recovered from the Oscar parties (Vanity Fair, InStyle) and ill-timed caffeine cleanse that left him yawning in meetings the previous day. At the ceremonies, his company, the virtuous shoe business Toms, took home what amounts to the statue for Best Publicity. During the broadcast, AT&T debuted an ad extolling Toms' growth and ethos of giving. And Abraham Attah--the 15-year-old co-star of Beasts of No Nation--turned up for his presenter's gig shod in a pair of the company's signature alpargata slip-ons, made specially for him from embroidered black velvet.
As Attah explained to red-carpet interviewer Ryan Seacrest--another Toms admirer--the business won him over by promising to donate 10,000 pairs of shoes to his native Ghana. It was a one-off escalation of Toms' famous one-for-one model: Every time a consumer buys one of its products, the company donates a related product or service to someone in need. (In Toms-talk, such donations are "gives.") Toms sealed the deal with Attah four days before the Oscars in a last-minute scramble. At the time, Mycoskie was incommunicado at the Hoffman Institute, a personal-transformation retreat. Right before that, he'd been in Colombia, delivering shoes to poor children.
"Everyone was like, 'Blake, we have this massive thing happening and you are checking out for nine days,'" says Mycoskie, 39 and youthfully scruffy…