One thing to remember about TOM Shoes is that there's no Tom. The name of the shoe company is actually an abbreviation of their motto, Shoes for a Better Tomorrow. The company had an unconventional beginning. It was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an American entrepreneur who realized that there were people around the world that were suffering because they didn't have any shoes.
The founder was disturbed by realizing that people around the world didn't have shoes and that they were subject to injury and disease, but also that they had lower economic and social status because they were barefoot all the time. The founder thought that by giving people shoes he was giving them access to more opportunities. According to the company, for every product sold TOMs will donate a pair of shoes to a person in need.
The shoes are manufactured in China, South America and Africa. TOMs has given away over a million pairs of shoes to children all around the world. TOMs shoe styles are very simple. Many of them are based on Argentine alpargata styles which are really like flat soled espadrilles. Some are made with no animal materials, making them suitable even for committed vegans.
In addition to shoes, the company also produces some pieces of apparel and some eye wear which they've linked to donations of eye glasses to people around the world with vision impairment.
For a fairly new company, TOMs shoes has made a big impact and the donation strategy has been an important part of their success.