A story by LA Weekly priced the manufacturing cost of a pair of Toms Shoes at $3.50-$5.00 in U.S. dollars, and noted that the children's shoes given out by the company were among the cheapest to make, which is not necessarily apparent to consumers. According to garment-industry author Kelsey Timmerman, many people he spoke to in Ethiopia were critical of the company, saying that they felt it exploited the idea of Ethiopian poverty as a marketing tool. An Argentina-based shoemaker agreed, saying that the imagery used by the company was manipulative.[47]
The Tom's 'One for One' model has inspired many different companies to adopt similar concepts. Warby Parker, launched in 2010, donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of glasses it sells. The social business Ruby Cup uses a 'Buy One Give One' model for their menstrual cup venture, benefiting women in Kenya.[61] A Bristol chiropractic center influenced by Mycoskie's Start Something That Matters[62] book started donating £1 to Cherish Uganda for every appointment attended.[63]
In 2009 Toms partnered with the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project to create limited edition shoes, and used profits to benefit education and medical support in remote areas of Africa suffering from AIDS outbreaks.[54] Toms has also produced shoes with a handlebar mustache symbol in place of the traditional Toms symbol in support of the Movember Foundation.[55] Toms is a supporter of the charity charity: water, with which it has partnered with for several years, including its WaterForward project, which aims to bring clean water to underdeveloped countries.[56] An additional partner charity is FEED, a charity where a consumer will purchase a pair of shoes and the company will donate twelve meals to impoverished schools in addition to a pair of shoes for impoverished children.[57]
The major mission of Toms is that a business, rather than a charity, would help their impact last longer. In his speech at the Second Annual Clinton Global Initiative[58] Mycoskie states that his initial motivation was a disease called podoconiosis—a debilitating and disfiguring disease which causes one's feet to swell along with many other health implications. Also known as "Mossy Foot", podoconiosis is a form of elephantiasis that affects the lymphatic system of the lower legs. The disease is a soil-transmitted disease caused by walking in silica-rich soil.[59] Toms currently works with factories nearby where they perform some of their shoe drops.[60]
Students attending colleges across the United States have created TOMS campus clubs. As of March 20, 2014, 281 campus clubs existed in the United States with another dozen located in Canada.[52] By comparison, another nonprofit organization known as Lions Club International was established in 1917 and is known for working to ending the cause of blindness, reports 400 Lions’ campus clubs in 42 countries.[53]
In July 2011, Toms founder Blake Mycoskie participated in an event sponsored by the group Focus on the Family.[64][65] After being criticized for supporting a socially conservative non-profit, Mycoskie posted an apology on his website stating that he and his handlers had not heard of Focus on the Family before participating in the event and decided it was a mistake. He also stated that he and the company support equal human and civil rights.[66][67]
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