Entrepreneurial innovator Blake Mycoskie expands his philanthropic enterprise.
By Ricky Rodriguez, Photo by Dustin Meyer
Blake Mycoskie, CEO and founder of TOMS, announced the opening of the second TOMS retail store and coffee shop in our capital city during South By Southwest Interactive in March. The newly renovated Victorian revival has become the true embodiment of the entrepreneur’s style and philanthropic passion. A native Texan, Mycoskie purposefully chose Austin to home his latest business venture, an honor that has Austin a-buzz with excitement.
“Austin has always been a second home to me and the br and. Some of the earliest supporters and advocates were here in Austin,” Mycoskie says. “When we found the location, it seemed like a no-brainer!”
Mycoskie reminisced on his high- school years at Austin’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and his journey from aspiring entrepreneur to successful business owner and philanthropist. He started his first business in college, establishing a collegiate laundryservice company. He saw a need for it in an environment in which laundry was a constant subject of inquiry for the on-the -go university student.
From there forward, Mycoskie launched several other small businesses, paving the way for the establishment of TOMS. While traveling the Argentinian countryside in 2006, he witnessed the lack of resources available to many of the locals, especially those who could not afford protective footwear.
Without shoes, children are more susceptible to cuts and scrapes, increasing their risk of infection and the development of diseases. In response to the growing demand for shoes, Mycoskie developed a business model in which every pair of shoes purchased would help a person in need of pr otective footwear.
Since its establishment in 2006, TOMS has supplied more than 10 million pairs of shoes and counting. The one-for-one model has successfully given thousands of people thr oughout the world hope for a better tomorrow. Mycoskie’s philanthropic efforts and his resulting success are a testament to the power of one-for-one.
In 2011, TOMS expanded the company and launched TOMS Eyewear, a program in which every pair of glasses purchased helps a person suffering from cataracts and severe eye injuries who requires critical surgery and medical treatment. The company’s latest business venture, TOMS Roasting Co., has been successful in providing clean water to communities that lack access to safe, drinkable water.
TOMS has partnered with Water For People to support water systems in five countries: Honduras, Peru, Rwanda, Malawi and Guatemala. For every bag of coffee purchased, 140 liters of water is given to a person in need. For Mycoskie, the evolution of TOMS from shoe atelier to coffeehouse brewer is owed to the 38-year-old’s passion for change.
“There is more likelihood for success if you take something that you’re deeply passionate about and put everything that you’ve got in to it and turn it in to a business . In my different businesses, this has always been the case. I’ve never had experience per say in that space—definitely not in shoes or eyewear or now coffee—but I’ve been passionate about those things to help people in an impactful way,” he says.
Mycoskie has proven that success, philanthropy and personal meaning can co-exist.
“You can be financially successful and give back in a significant way and good deeds they don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Mycoskie says. “That’s what I have been really focused on the past seven years building TOMS.”
It is Mycoskie’s hope to extend his one-for-one model to various other industries and expand the ability to change people’s lives in many ways.
“The idea is to position [TOMS] as the one -for-one giving brand that can work throughout many industries to help in man y different ways,” Mycoskies says. “If you want to build a business and have a giving component to it, you can’t build a business and decide to give back. What do you want to address? Is it education? Is it hunger? Is it water? And then develop a company or service that would help serve that need. That’s the way we approach it and that’s a really important way to think about it.”
TOMS Roasting Co., located at 1401 S. Congress Ave., has become the newest hotspot for locals to gather. The 2,400-square-foot property features various hangout spots with outdoor and indoor seating space for conversation and relaxation. Almost half of the property is devoted to outdoor seating while the other half provides guests with plenty of space for browsing through some of TOMS’ signature footwear and eyewear.
The ambiance is relaxed and eclectic, featuring one -of-a-kind furniture pieces and accessories that reflect the CEO’s personal style. Calm, cool and collected, Mycoskie is a man who has exemplified the importance of ambition, perseverance and compassion. At times, his job can be a bit chaotic, but he tries to find moments to reflect and center himself through meditation and enjoying some coveted quiet time. He keeps a balance between his hobbies and continuing his mission for a better tomorrow.
“I try to spend as much time on the lake as I can. We have a little piece of property on Lake Austin with a gr eat boat dock. I like to wake surf and play golf too,” he says.
As for the future, Mycoskie has more than just dreams of entrepreneurial expansion on his mind. “My wife and I want to have a family and that’s something that we’re working on. I’ll hopefully be a dad in 10 years,” he says.
To find out more, visit toms.com/toms-roasting-co.