MR Q: Blake Mycoskie

by Harry Sheff

In his shoes: Blake Mycoskie reveals how he became Toms’ “chief shoe giver.”

Blake MycoskieBlake Mycoskie launched Toms Shoes in 2006 with the idea of not only selling, but giving, shoes. He created the One for One Movement: for every pair of shoes sold, Toms donates a pair to children in need. (Toms has since donated over two million new pairs of shoes.) Following the same One for One model, he introduced eyewear in 2012. Toms sells at a range of retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Journeys.

In 2009, Mycoskie won the Secretary of State’s Award of Corporate Excellence (ACE), and in 2011, he made Fortune magazine’s “40 Under 40” list. That same year he released his first book, Start Something That Matters, in hopes that sharing his story (and other philanthropic business stories) would inspire readers to “turn their passions and dreams into realities.”

How do you decide which charities to work with?
Each of our giving partners go through an extensive vetting process to make sure they are qualified and have the potential to be a longtime partner. Currently, Toms works with more than 75 giving partners around the world, who share with us the needs they see on the ground. Then we collaborate to provide the kinds of shoes and eye care that are truly useful.

What are the current best-selling men’s styles? Retail price points?
Currently, our best-selling men’s styles are our canvas classic slip-ons—they come in a range of solid colors and fun prints. They retail from $44 to $54 depending on materials.

How did your eyewear collaboration with interior designer Jonathan Adler come about?
We approached Jonathan Adler’s team some time last year about a possible collaboration and now here we are launching our first designer eyewear collection in June! The limited-edition capsule collection is unisex and available in three styles. Each pair comes with a hand-stitched needlepoint case. (The eyewear and case retail from $169 to $179 and the case alone retails for $42.) We are really excited to partner with different brands and organizations on our shoes and eyewear. It allows us to combine our designs and come up with exciting product and also highlight their work within our community.

What have you learned since launching Toms?
Don’t take “no“ for an answer! Just because people might not think you have a good idea, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your passions.

What are you most proud of? What do you still want to achieve?
Seven years ago, I started with a simple idea and turned it into a global movement. I’m proud to expand the One for One model beyond shoes into eyewear. I hope to have continued success with shoes and eyewear, and eventually launch other One for One product categories.

What’s your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?
My favorite part of the job is knowing that the work we’re doing will help people in need. My least favorite—e-mails!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“The more you give, the more you live.” —Bob Dedman

Who inspires you?
My Toms family and my parents. It’s inspiring to see a young and talented group of people work so hard and passionately every single day. My parents will always inspire me as they are the people I look up to every day. They’ve been married for many years and have a very strong and loving relationship.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
As a newlywed, I love spending time with my wife and our puppies.