Blake Mycoskie is a serial entrepreneur.
By the time he was 30, Blake had already started four businesses. Oh and he also found time to compete in The Amazing Race.
After all that, he needed a well earned break. Somewhere to relax and let his mind unwind.
He choose South America because he wanted to learn how to play polo.
One night he was in a wine bar in Buenos Aires and fell into conversion with two women.
They explained that they were on a ‘shoe drive’ collecting second-hand shoes from wealthy families and taking them to the favelas to hand out.
Intrigued by this idea, Blake tagged along.
It was to prove a life changing experience that sowed the seed for a multi-million dollar shoe empire.
He was waxing lyrical to his polo teacher about his experience when his teacher turned to him and asked ‘But what happens when these kids grow up?’
Blake wrestled with this question overnight. How could he help these kids and make a difference? Would starting a business achieve more than just another charity?
Then one day the idea came to him.
He noticed the canvas shoes worn by the local polo players and thought they would be something cool and different if sold back in his native USA. Blake said “My idea was if we could sell a pair of shoes today, then we’ll give a pair away tomorrow, we’ll call them Tomorrow shoes”
After a few meetings with local manufactures and a shortening of the name to Toms, he returned to Los Angeles with 250 pairs.
With a bit of hustling he got them into a couple of trendy independent fashion stores.
Shortly thereafter, an LA Times fashion writer picked it up and interviewed Blake for a feature.
The day the article appeared in the paper he received orders for 2,200 pairs but only had 80 pairs left in his apartment. And then he got a call from Vogue magazine.
The rest as they say is history.
TOMS went from zero dollars in annual revenue to $450 million in under seven years, becoming the fastest selling shoe company in the world.
How and why did Blake’s vision become so wildly successful?
Because there was a great story behind it.
People loved the idea that by buying a pair of shoes they would be gifting another pair to a poor child.
The most successful businesses in the world share one thing in common with TOMS: they all tell their stories well.
Storytelling isn’t just fundamental to doing business that is good, it’s good for business full stop.