TOMS is an amazing global company combining chic style and social action. I was privileged to attend the launch of TOMS in Melbourne at Speakeasy Kitchen Bar in South Yarra. This was possibly the best launch I've ever been to. The organisers put together an impressive collage of sight and sound in presenting the TOMS message and inspiring us to address global poverty.
Speakeasy Kitchen Bar has to be one of the best spaces in Melbourne for a launch. It exudes uber cool accentuated by the fact we entered the function via the laneway not the street entrance on Chapel Street. The laneway boasts some pretty cool street art. On arrival we were engaged by a creative interactive wall to make our contribution in writing - on what we can give to address global poverty. This didn't have to be money - someone I met wrote "cuddles".
You then enter an uber space at Speakeasy with a bar and mixture of roof covering and tent covering. The TOMS launch featured great artistic flair and multimedia. Three women were painting on a large canvas. Over in the corner was a DJ. A film of TOMS work among children in need was projected on the wall.
Walking around the quality of displays was amazing. Brochures of TOMS work were on the tables. A Mac was showing more film and images of TOMS work. A large map showed where 2 million pairs of shoes have been already distributed around the world (yes 2 million!).
In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.
Here is the deal as described on the TOMS website -
Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.
TOMS products stand out as chic and stylish, with their casual shoes being the mainstay, as well as cool accessories like their sunglasses. Speaking to the hip crowd these shoes are fashionable. Even apart from the social action element these are great products. The message is clear - ONE FOR ONE. With every pair of shoes purchased another pair of shoes goes to children in need in poverty areas of the world. How good is that?
All the while there was great food and wine served to the chic crowd. This was a fashion and social action event delivered with a fair level of sophistication. I found it engaging and thought the level of excellence was sensational. Love the culture, mandate and mindset of TOMS.
Upstairs was another chic space with bar and views to Chapel Street. Here were more amazing displays and products featured along the walls, including fashionable sunglasses and shoes. Thats where I found out it doesn't stop with shoes - TOMS are a "one for one" company. They sell sunglasses to help restore sight in third world countries. Wow!
From their website - Our goal is to help save and restore sight to people in need all around the world. Currently, TOMS is helping give sight in more than 13 countries worldwide, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Tibet, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States.
The shoes come in various colours and designs, all with the TOMS tag, and are super comfortable. A little tight to get on at first, they stretch a little. I appreciated the fact they have the half sizes.
To promote the brand we were treated with a pair of TOMS shoes each. These black casual shoes wil be great for summer with dress jeans (no socks of course).
TOMS are available to order online and the website is compelling. Check it out at http://www.toms.com/