Blake Mycoskie is the Founder and CEO of TOMS, and the person behind the idea of One for One, a business model to help a person in need with every product purchased. A simple idea that has grown into a global movement. And yes, it was about time we had a talk with this gentleman.
TOMS definitely needs no introduction. And yet this much is necessary: TOMS Shoes has provided over 10 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006, and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 175,000 since launching in 2011. In the last couple of months, TOMS Roasting Company was founded with the mission to provide clean water to developing communities with the purchase of premium coffee.
And as for Blake Mycoskie, Founder and CEO of TOMS…. Very little is known about him – by choice, naturally. For instance, thanks to Wikipedia we do know that Mr. Mycoskie was born in Texas 37 years ago. Of course he is an avid reader and traveller. He is passionate about inspiring young people to help make tomorrow better, encouraging them to include giving in everything they do. And his hope is to see a future full of social-minded businesses and consumers.
Which, as you can imagine, only intrigued us into getting to know him better. Just a bit.
ON PERSONAL STYLE
Is there a piece in your closet that you keep on to for ages now and could not imagine throwing away?
My denim shirts.
What was your last purchased item? Can you remember?
A TOMS coffee and a RRL belt.
Which are your favourite colors?
Blue, red, orange.
Is there a piece of clothing or accessory that you have inherited from your father/grandfather that you love?
A pair of SMU sweatpants from my dad, we both went to school there.
Is there a piece that you desperately want to get soon?
No, I have no real needs or desires right now.
Name the man you have looked up to, while growing up. Who inspired you to the man you have become now?
I really admire my father. He taught me to be persistent, hardworking and to continue developing into a man of character and integrity.
Do you drive a car or a motorcycle? What is it?
I have a vintage F-100 truck. It is unique and isn’t something I’m afraid to scratch or take anywhere.
You spend most of your time on an airplane, on the go, in a foreign country. What do you pack with you each time? What is truly essential in the end?
I carry my leather journal with me everywhere I go. I am usually inspired with new ideas when I travel to new places. I always want to make sure I can write things down as they come.
Name the most stylish man on earth to you.
What is the first thing you would teach your son, in things style? And your daughter?
Don’t dress to impress others, but to make yourself feel comfortable and confident….and if I have a son and at the right age, I will tell him to wear loud, crazy pants, because it gets the girl’s attention and shows you do not take yourself too seriously.
What inspires you most to creating the key pieces of the season?
When I travel to visit our Giving Partners, I’m constantly inspired by fabrics and shoe styles around the world. Whether it’s unique boots in Nepal, beautifully crafted flats in India or colorful abrics from Guatemala, I like introducing these to our design team to consider ways we can integrate them into our seasonal design concepts.
According to FORTUNE you are one of the top young businessmen in the world. How tough is it to mix business with strong emotions and philanthropy and still get both a profit, as well as a smile?
I really believe it’s the responsibility of business to impact the world in a positive way and make responsible philanthropic choices. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions in day-to-day business decisions, but overall when we how we can positively impact so many people around the world, there’s no question that this model is effective and the right way for me, personally, to build a brand.
How do the awards make you feel? Are they unnecessary for your everyday struggle to help people or are they an important recognition that gives you the fuel needed for a step further?
Awards help validate that we’re onto something special and unique. Of course, it’s always encouraging to receive public recognition, but this isn’t what drives me. I find that I’m still most motivated by the encouragement of my personal mentors, family and staff community.
Social-minded businesses and consumers. Do you think that the way people think and consume has changed over the course of the last, say, 2 years?
Absolutely. When we started, we noticed our early customers found our model refreshing and new. And that inspired us to work harder to make it simple for the average person to give back or make a positive impact through a daily decision or action. I believe consumers are demanding more, revealing new and innovative social brands emerging in the marketplace.
“Start something that matters”, the title of your best selling book. Was that the reason why you decided to start TOMS?
I didn’t start TOMS thinking I needed to leave a legacy behind me, I really started TOMS because I wanted to help make a difference to the children I saw in Argentina. I quickly realized this model was inspirational to people and had a ripple effect much beyond what I ever initially expected.
What does TOMS actually stand for, especially now?
stands for Tomorrow’s Shoes with the idea that if you buy a pair of shoes today, we will be able to give a pair of shoes to someone in need tomorrow. Today, TOMS is still focused on how we can give through a One for One model. We’ve built on this idea and developed new ways to give. We offer sight restoration through the sales of our TOMS Eyewear and, most recently, clean water through our TOMS Coffee.
Which achievement (concerning TOMS and One For One) are you particularly proud of?
When you incorporate giving into your business, you attract the most amazing partners and collaborators. I have been most proud of the people who have come to join our cause. Either 7 years ago or within the last year, this movement has attracted talented, creative and driven people to help us grow and evolve every day.
Is there anything, a photo, a campaign, a project, a job, anything at all, that you regret having done in the past?
I have no regrets and I don’t like to live in the past.
Is there a shoe design by another that you were even a little jealous of at some point and you wish it had been you to think of it first?
The hurrachi sandal from Mexico.
Where do you imagine yourself to be in –say- ten years from now, professionally speaking?
In ten years, I imagine we’ll have expanded into many different product and business categories. I’ve always been inspired by Richard Branson and the Virgin brand. The DNA of his brand is prevalent in all categories and I think our One for One will be something that can continue to tie various business ventures together.
Describe a typical work day of yours.
I don’t really have typical work days! I actually enjoy this though; I’m often traveling somewhere to share about the work we’re doing at TOMS, visiting a new project or I’m in our headquarters in LA, working with my team. I do like to make sure I have some constant routines like carving out time to journal, read and get some exercise everyday. I know these simple practices help me stay creative, healthy and inspired to invest back into the constant evolution of our business.
All images are courtesy of TOMS.