I believe in giving back. I believe in the power of stories. I also believe in the power of social entrepreneurship. TOMS represents all that and more.
I first discovered TOMS in 2007, way before it was the household brand name it is now, and just a year after Blake Mycoskie founded the company and it was still a grassroots campaign. I was in the middle of my Masters in Public Health degree and had just returned from a 7-week trip to Africa on a field study about utilizing social mobilization to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation. I was overwhelmed by the need to give back to the communities I had left behind and wanted to spend the rest of my life advocating for these women. I knew a career path like this wouldn’t get me rich – it would barely cover my school loans. It was disheartening to think that I wouldn’t ever really be able to give back; I needed to work hard for many years, get rich, and only at retirement could I devote any significant aid. Then I stumbled across the winner of the People’s Design Award: TOMS. It has been noted as the most successful model of social entrepreneurship that year.
The story behind my favorite shoe brand is impressive; it was not inspired by a shoe, it was inspired by the absence of a shoe. During his travels in 2006, Blake noticed that the children in an Argentinian village didn’t have adequate 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 for a child in need. One-for-One. This was a beginning of a new wave of social entrepreneurship with his One-for-One movement, and now it has expanded on what you give back to giving back: Education, Healthcare, and Confidence Building services.
I have been an avid fan for almost a decade now, but it wasn’t until I visited their store last week in Marina Mall (their only store in Abu Dhabi) that I realized how much this inspiring company has grown, with the expansion of more product streams aimed at giving back across five continents. They now sell shoes, bags, sunglasses, and COFFEE (sorry, not in UAE yet though).
And frankly, I was a bit floored to have not grasped the lesson earlier – that you don’t need to be rich to give back, and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love. You don’t even have to give up a material lifestyle, you can just be conscious of where you are spending your money. Because watching it go towards not only a stylish pair of shoes for your feet, but to those who don’t have the luxury of thinking about style and to whom one pair of shoes may be a revelation.
Here are some of TOMS current products:
SHOES (Available in Abu Dhabi)
With every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS has given more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to children in need. I couldn’t help but leave the store with a pair of their Natural Burlap Women’s Classics, I loved the simple earthy material, it gives it a unique, relaxed and comfortable look.
SUNGLASSES (Available in Abu Dhabi)
With every pair of eyewear you purchase, TOMS will give sight to a person in need. TOMS has helped restore sight to more than 300,000 individuals around the world.
BAGS (Available in Abu Dhabi)
With every bag you purchase, TOMS will provide a safe birth for a mother and baby in need. This was my most favorite product in the whole store! AMAZING! I want to own the whole collection! <3
Stand Up Backpacks (Available in Abu Dhabi)
With every StandUp Backpack purchase, TOMS will provide the training of school staff and crisis counselors to help prevent and respond to instances of bullying.
COFFEE (Not Available in the Region yet)
With every bag of TOMS Roasting Co. coffee you purchase, TOMS will provide one week of safe water to a person in need. Can’t wait until this product is available here, I know my husband will be the first one in line to grab a bag!
Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi
or, shop online
*Note: Moms Talk has not received any compensation for this post. We just love TOMS.
Sudanese-American working mom of three. Free Spirit. Idea Curator. Her brain moves faster than her body can go. A laid back chic who walks around with that stereotypical hippie vibe.She is never afraid to give you her unsolicited opinion about gentle parenting. Esraa has been actively over-sharing her motherhood and parenting stories on social media since 2008.