[MUSIC] NARRATOR: Blake Mycoskie is the founder and chief shoe giver of TOMS Shoes. The company is based on a revolutionary business model. With every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need, one for one. Since starting the company in 2006, TOMS has given away over 600,000 pairs of shoes to needy children.
BLAKE MYCOSKIE: So we ended up selling, through Nordstrom and some other people-- that was in July. By the end of the summer, we had sold 10,000 pairs, basically, out of my apartment. So, so that was when it got really cool. Because 10,000 just felt like a good number. It felt like a milestone.
And so, that's when we decided, OK, now's the time to go back to Argentina and to give all these shoes away. And it was so cool because I got to take my interns. I took my parents, who had never left the United States before-- 58 years old, never left the United States. I took my brother and my sister and a few of my friends from college, and we all went to Argentina.
And for 2 and 1/2 weeks we hand-placed every single one of those shoes onto a child's foot. Thank you.
And, thank you much. And it's interesting because now I get the great opportunity to speak in front of people, and we do question-and-answer. And oftentimes one of the questions that I get is, Blake, when you had the idea for TOMS, did it change your life?
And the truth is, as romantic and noble as it would be to say, Yes, the true answer is, No. When I had the idea for TOMS, it was just an idea. You know, I was running my other business. It was just an idea, like a "what if"? What if we sold these shoes, could we continue to give these shoes?
But when my life did change-- and when I say change, radically change, my whole world was turned upside-down-- was when I went on that first shoe job. When I saw my mom in the corner of a dilapidated school building, washing off kids' feet and putting shoes on them. I mean it was unbelievable. I'll never forget the first day. I mean, I was just bawling all day long. I mean, I couldn't stop crying every time I started to give a child a pair of shoes.
And I'll never forget this one story, this one thing that happened. We did this for about 2 and 1/2 weeks. And in the second week, we were leaving this village. We had just given away about I'd say 1,000 pairs of shoes. We're going back to the vans, getting ready to go to the next place.
And I'm walking-- I think I'm with my dad and then another one of my friends this time-- and we're carrying the boxes. And as we're getting ready to get in the van, this woman comes running around the corner and she's crying. She's got these three boys behind her and they're all wearing brand new TOMS Shoes. So I don't really understand why she's crying.
And she's talking in Spanish, really quick, really quick. And I can understand some words but not when someone is speaking that fast. I wanted to understand, why is she crying. And so I went and got our translator. I said, sir, if you'd please help me. This woman is crying. We got to leave. We got to get to the next village. Like, her kids have shoes. I just don't understand.
So he goes to ask her, you know, what's wrong. And when she explains back to him, she stops crying and she starts smiling. And as I watch his expression as he's listening, he's smiling. So even before he told me what she was saying, I knew that she wasn't crying because she was sad, but she was crying because she was happy.
But what he told me blew me away. He explained that this woman just told him that for the past year her three sons had been sharing a single pair of shoes. But listen to what this meant.
Her oldest son would go to school on Monday. He would come home and he would wait until Thursday before he could go back because they only could go to school the days that they could wear the shoes. I mean, for those of you with kids, can you imagine for a second? I mean, I don't have kids yet, but I can't imagine the pain that mother felt every day as her two sons would watch the other son get to go to school, and they would have to sit there and do whatever they did and wait.
And I mean, when I heard that story, that's when I was, like, this is something worth committing my life to. I mean, it was unbelievable. And I remember a story like that story and many others similar, and that happened for three weeks. And when I got on the plane to go back to Los Angeles, I knew my life would never be the same.