It’s a bit surprising to see that Blake Mycoskie repeatedly invokes such a hoary old self-help slogan. But there it is, in foot-high, wooden letters on an upstairs landing at the Los Angeles headquarters of his shoe and accessories company, Toms. There it is again, in a painting on the wall of his office/man cave. And you’ll find him repeating it several times in his book, Start Something That Matters.
If there’s anyone who can make a case for seizing the day, it’s Mycoskie. He has done it repeatedly and successfully over the past seven years, orchestrating Toms’s rise into the top flight of fashion and establishing it as a new kind of business. More than any other brand, Toms has integrated old-fashioned, for-profit entrepreneurship with new-wave, bleeding-heart philanthropy, bonding moneymaking and giving in an unprecedented manner. The company has become so closely identified with giving away a pair of shoes to a poor child for every pair sold–Toms has trademarked the tagline “one for one”–that it’s often mistaken for a charity. And it has spawned buy-one-give-one copycats offering everything from dog treats to cups of coffee.