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Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie
Born (1976-08-26) August 26, 1976
Arlington, Texas
Residence Los Angeles, CA
Nationality American
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
SMU Cox School of Business
Occupation Founder and Chief Shoe Giver, Toms Shoes
Organization Clinton Global Initiative
Notable work(s) Start Something That Matters (Book; 2011)
Television The Amazing Race
Spouse(s) Heather Lang Mycoskie (m. 2012)
Parents Mike Mycoskie, Pam Mycoskie
Relatives Paige Mycoskie (sister) Tyler Mycoskie (brother)
Awards Secretary of State’s 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence

Blake Mycoskie (born August 26, 1976) is an American entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He is best known as the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of Toms Shoes (stylized as TOMS Shoes).[1]

Early life and education

Mycoskie was born in Arlington, Texas to Mike Mycoskie, an orthopedic surgeon, and Pam Mycoskie, an author. He graduated from high school at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin in 1994. Mycoskie, who began playing tennis when he was 10, attended Southern Methodist University on a partial tennis scholarship in 1995, and elected a dual major in philosophy and business.[2] After an Achilles tendon injury he sustained as a sophomore, which effectively ended his tennis career, Mycoskie left SMU and launched his first business, EZ Laundry.[3] Originally focused on SMU, which had no on-campus dry cleaning service, EZ Laundry expanded, ultimately employing more than 40 people, servicing three universities, and generating close to $1 million in sales.[4] Mycoskie sold the company to his partner in 1999.


Following college, Mycoskie moved to Nashville to found Mycoskie Media, an outdoor billboard company which focused largely on marketing country music. The company was quickly profitable, and was bought by Clear Channel nine months after its launch.[5]

In 2001, Mycoskie and his sister, Paige, applied for the cast of Survivor. A member of the Survivor production team told them about The Amazing Race, which had yet to debut, and they instead pursued a team position on that show. They competed in the second season of The Amazing Race and finished in third place, missing a million dollar prize by four minutes.[6] Mycoskie moved to Los Angeles later that year.[7]

In Los Angeles, Mycoskie co-founded the cable network Reality Central with Larry Namer, a founder of E! Entertainment Television. Raising $25 million from venture capitalists, along with other members of reality show casts,[8] the network launched in 2003 with a plan of airing original content and re-runs of reality programming.[9] Although the network had moderate success, it folded in 2005 after Rupert Murdoch launched the Fox Reality Channel and outbid Reality Central for advertisers and programming.[10] Determined to pursue an entrepreneurial path, Mycoskie then partnered with the founders of to create DriversEd Direct, an online driver's education service which additionally offered behind-the-wheel training in hybrid and sport utility vehicles.[8] To promote DriversEdDirect, he created Closer Marketing Group, a Santa Monica based marketing firm specializing in brand development and viral marketing.[11]

Mycoskie, who first visited Argentina while competing on the Amazing Race, returned to the country on vacation in 2006. While there, he met an American woman who was part of a volunteer organization which provided shoes for children in need. Mycoskie spent several days traveling from village to village with the group, as well as on his own. "(I witnessed) the intense pockets of poverty just outside the bustling capital," he wrote in a 2011 article for The Business Insider. "It dramatically heightened my awareness. Yes, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that poor children around the world often went barefoot, but now, for the first time, I saw the real effects of being shoeless: the blisters, the sores, the infections."[12]

Inspired, Mycoskie returned to the United States and founded Shoes for Better Tomorrows. Designed as a for-profit business which could continually give new shoes to disadvantaged children, he created the "One for One" business model: the company would donate a new pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold. An early example of social entrepreneurship, the shoes, similar to the Argentinian Alpargata, were created to appeal to a worldwide audience, which would both sustain the company's mission and generate profit.[13][14] Shoes For A Better Tomorrow, later shortened to TOMS,[15] was started in 2006; by 2013, the company had donated more than 10,000,000 pairs of shoes to people in need.[16] The shoes are sold globally in more than 1000 stores.[17]

In 2011, Toms expanded to include eyeglasses in its "One for One" offering -- for every pair of sunglasses purchased, sight-saving medical treatment, prescription glasses or surgery is donated to a person in need.[18] While Mycoskie conceived the idea, a "Sight Giving Partner," the Seva Foundation, was contracted to administer the actual program, which launched in Nepal, Tibet, and Cambodia.[19] In a 2012 interview with Fast Company, Mycoskie said it was helpful for him to work with Seva. "I've been there when (people have had) surgery... and I've handed out the glasses. But as Toms grows, it has to be less about 'What's Blake's most intimate, joyful experience?' and more about 'What's the great need?'"[20]

Mycoskie published the book Start Something That Matters in 2011. In it, he wrote about the virtues of social entrepreneurship and the concept of businesses using their profits and company assets to make charitable donations or engage in other charitable efforts, using his experience with Toms to demonstrate both the intangible and real returns.[21] For every copy of Start Something That Matters sold, Mycoskie promised to give a children's book to a child in need.[22] Fifty percent of royalties from the book were then used to provide grants to up-and-coming entrepreneurs,[23] and Mycoskie increased this to 100% in late 2012.[24] The book became a New York Times best-selling business book,[25] and a number one New York Times best-seller in the advice category.[26]

At SXSW in 2014, Mycoskie announced the launch of TOMS Roasting Co., a company which offers coffee sourced through direct trade efforts in Rwanda, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala and Malawi. TOMS Roasting Co. will donate a week of water to people in need in supplier countries for every bag of coffee sold. In 2014, Mycoskie announced that TOMS would launch an additional "One for One" product every year.[27][28]

In August 2014, Mycoskie sold 50% of Toms to Bain Capital, retaining his role as Chief Shoe Giver. In a company press release, he said: "In eight short years, we've had incredible success, and now we need a strategic partner who shares our bold vision for the future and can help us realize it." He will donate 50% of the profits from the sale to establish a fund that identifies and supports social entrepreneurship and other causes. Bain committed to matching Mycoskie's donation to the fund, and will continue the One For One business model. [29][30][31]

Personal life

Mycoskie, who lives in Los Angeles, met his wife, Heather Lang, when the two worked together at Toms.[32] Lang runs Toms Loves Animals, a program launching in May 2014 in conjunction with Toms. His sister, Paige, is the co-founder and designer of Aviator Nation, a surf lifestyle brand inspired by vintage sportswear; his brother, Tyler, works in marketing at Toms.[33] Mycoskie is an avid golfer and fly fisher.[34]

Awards and honors

  • Keynote speaker, SXSW Interactive, 2014 [28][35]
  • USA Today, "Five Best Communicators In The World" 2013[36]
  • ISPA Humanitarian Award (2013)[37]
  • Fortune "40 Under 40" (2011)[38]
  • ABC News Person of the Week (2011)[39]
  • Keynote speaker, SXSW (2011)[40]
  • Secretary of State’s Award of Corporate Excellence (2009)[41]
  • Bloomberg Businessweek "America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs" (2008)[42]
  • People "Heroes Among Us" (2007)[43]
  • People’s Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2007)[44]

External links

  • TOMS One for One Shoes and Eyewear
  • Seva
  • The Amazing Race


  1. ^ Hubbard, Kelsey. "Sole Man Blake Mycoskie". January 7, 2012. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Shambora, Jessica. "How TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie got started". March 16, 2010. CNN. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Grigsby Bates, Karen. Soul Mates': Shoe Entrepreneur Finds Love In Giving"'". November 26, 2010. NPR. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Wong, Grace. "Blake Mycoskie: Sole ambition". September 26, 2008. CNN. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Amred, Imam, Vikram Alexi Kansara. "Founder Stories | Blake Mycoskie of Toms on Social Entrepreneurship and Finding His ‘Business Soulmate’". July 29, 2013. Business of Fashion. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Sire, Brigitte. "Saving Soles". April 1, 2009. Hemispheres. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Executive Profile: Blake Mycocksie". March 7, 2014. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Colao, J.J. "The Trials Of Entrepreneurship: TOMS Founder Blake Mycoskie On Starting Up Again...And Again". March 3, 2014. Forbes. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Sellers, Andrea. "Former 'The Amazing Race' contestant Blake Mycoskie announces all-reality "Reality Central" television network". April 28, 2003. Reality TV World. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Get to the top with Mycoskie's 5 tips". September 26, 2008 (CNN World Business). Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Blake Mycoskie, Contributor Profile". 2014. Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Mycoskie, Blake. "Blake Mycoskie Conceived The Idea For TOMS Shoes While Sitting On A Farm, Pondering Life, In Argentina". September 21, 2011. Business Insider. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Zimmerman, Mike. "The Business of Giving: TOMS Shoes". 2013. Success Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Burstein, David D. "BLAKE MYCOSKIE, FOUNDER AND CHIEF SHOE GIVER OF TOMS SHOES". 2008. Fast Company. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Schweitzer, Tamara. "The Way I Work: Blake Mycoskie of Toms Shoes". 2010. Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Groden, Claire. "TOMS Hits 10 Million Mark on Donated Shoes Read more: TOMS Hits 10 Million Mark on Donated Shoes". June 26, 2013. Time Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "40 Under 40". 2011. CNN. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Moore, Booth. "Toms founder Blake Mycoskie is known for pairing fashion and causes". June 11, 2011. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  19. ^ Garton, Christina. "TOMS' Blake Mycoskie announces next one-to-one product for charity". June 8, 2011. USA Today. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Clendaniel, Morgan. "TOMS GLASSES: THE NEWEST BUY-ONE-GIVE-ONE PRODUCT FROM TOMS SHOES". June 7, 2011. Fast Company. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  21. ^ Kerima Greene (September 7, 2011). "Interview with Blake Mycoskie the Author of ‘Start Something That Matters’". CNBC. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  22. ^ QMI Agency (August 4, 2011). "Q&A with TOMS shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie". London Free Press. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  23. ^ Ariel Schwartz (September 5, 2011). "Toms Shoes CEO Blake Mycoskie On Social Entrepreneurship, Telling Stories, And His New Book". Fast Company. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  24. ^ Sandi Gordon (January 3, 2013). "Change the World - Start Something That Matters". 
  25. ^ "Hardcover Business Books". New York Times. October 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Reprint of New York Times best-seller list". September 16, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  27. ^ Strom, Stephanie. "Turning Coffee Into Water to Expand Business Model". March 11, 2014 (New York Times). Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Graham, Jefferson. "SXSW | Toms Expands to Coffee". March 12, 2014. USA Today. 
  29. ^ De La Merced, Michael J. (August 20, 2014). "After Sale to Bain, Toms’s Chief Wants to Expand Global Reach". New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Healy, Beth (August 20, 2014). "Bain Capital buys 50 percent of company that donates shoes". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  31. ^ Fell, Jason (August 20, 2014). "TOMS Lands Major Investment From Bain Capital". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Moore, Booth. "Toms Shoes: A Venice shoe-in". December 23, 2012. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  33. ^ Tushchman, Sari Ann. "Biz-Savvy Sibs Give Back". 2013. LA Confidential. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  34. ^ Esper, Dawn. "Jordan Spieth, Tony Romo get hot on greens to take Pebble Beach Pro-Am lead". February 9, 2013. Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Altruism Abounds at SXSW Interactive: Blake Mycoskie of TOMS to Speak on Tuesday, March 11, 2014". December, 2013. SXSW. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  36. ^ Kay, Andrea. "How to enthrall an audience when you speak". January 25, 2013. USA Today. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  37. ^ "Philanthropist Blake Mycoskie will receive ISPA Humanitarian Award". May 29, 2013. Smart Brief. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  38. ^ "40 Under 40 - Blake Mycoskie". October 25, 2011. Fortune. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  39. ^ "Person of the Week: TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie". April 8, 2011. ABC News. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  40. ^ Shapshank, Toby. "South by SouthWest: Blake Mycoskie, a man comfortable in his own shoes". March 16, 2011. Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  41. ^ Mycoskie, Blake. "TOMS Shoes Accepts the Secretary of State's 2009 ACE Award". December 10, 2009. Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  42. ^ "America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs". 2008. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  43. ^ Ingrassia, Lisa. "He Gave 50,000 Kids Their First Pair of Shoes". September 10, 2007. People. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  44. ^ "TOMS Shoes Win the 2007 People’s Design Award". October 19, 2007. Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt (Press release). Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
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