It is Feel Good Friday on The Do-Gooder Mama! And I am not talking about the kind of “feel good” when you hit happy hour at the local establishment after a long week of work, though I encourage you to do that too if you can swing it. Unfortunately, the last happy hour I went to involved a ½ price Latte at Starbucks. But, I digress. FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS here at The Do-Gooder Mama are about feeling good about spending your hard-earned dollars. I will feature a new Do-Gooder Company every Friday and tell you how they are addressing a social need. When you do business with a featured company, you FEEL GOOD about the fact that you have gotten what you needed AND helped that company pursue it’s social cause. It’s that simple.
I recently purchased a pair of TOMS shoes (or maybe 3 but don’t tell The Hubs) from Zulily. Talk about a great deal! And, after I bought them, I felt good that I was getting a fantastic pair of shoes (or 3, but again, who is counting?) and that my purchase supported TOMS social mission. And, so, drum roll please, TOMS is our first featured Do-Gooder Company.
So, let’s talk about TOMS. It is a pretty well-known brand now and I am a big fan of their shoes for a couple reasons. 1. They are comfortable and stylish, and 2. For every pair that I buy, a child in need gets a pair. How cool and easy is that? TOMS calls it One For One and it truly is that. I wanted to learn more about this program and find out if I could really call TOMS a Do-Gooder Company. So, I went straight to the source and found a fantastic Giving Report that was both informative and enlightening. Here are some highlights of the report and reasons that I chose to celebrate the TOMS brand.
- TOMS partners with worldwide humanitarian organizations and provides their shoes as part of a broader health and education programs. Even better, they recognize that kids’ feet grow quickly and aim to give repeatedly when possible.
- Giving shoes to kids who otherwise would be barefoot protects children from injury and disease transmitted through the soil and often helps children overcome a barrier to obtaining an education since many schools require shoes for attendance.
- As of October 2011, more than 2,000,000 pairs of new shoes had been distributed to children in over 40 countries.
- TOMS has factories in Argentina, China and Ethiopia, all countries in which their shoes are distribute to children in need. They state categorically that they do not use Child Labor in their factories and pay fair wages to employees of those factories.
Most of you were probably aware of TOMS shoe programs before I wrote about them, but did you know they also have an eyewear product line? Just like the shoes, the eyewear line is a One For One product. But it is not simply an eyeglass for an eyeglass exchange. Buy one pair of vision wear from TOMS and you give the gift of sight to a person in one of the 13 countries in which the program is currently active. The person may receive a pair of eyeglasses or medical treatment for eye infections or a commonly needed surgery, such as a cataract surgery.
I must point out that not everyone thinks TOMS is doing a good enough job. One of the big criticisms is that the company is not doing anything to solve the underlying issue (predominantly poverty) that impacts the populations they serve. I don’t completely agree with this viewpoint. Though I could not find specific numbers, TOMS employs local residents in Argentina, Ethiopia and China to work in its factories. It is committed to providing fair wages and treatment, and a safe, clean place to work and employs third party audits to ensure that theses standards are being met. These jobs contribute to the local economy and can provide an entire family with access to education, healthcare and so much more.
My Bottom Line: Does TOMS make a lot of money? Yes. Should we refer to TOMS marketing team as Rock Stars? You bet. Do I think that this diminishes the contributions they are making in undeveloped and developing countries? Nope. In my humble opinion, TOMS passes the Do-Gooder Company test. If you are in the market for a new pair of shoes or sunglasses, check them out.