While competing on CBS-TV's The Amazing Race in Argentina with his sister, Blake Mycoskie noticed that most of the children he saw did not have shoes to wear.
Mycoskie, a native of Arlington, who had previously started his first successful business while still in college, felt a need to help. In 2006, he founded TOMS Shoes with a goal of manufacturing unique shoes modeled after the rope-soled shoes worn by Argentine farmers for a century, and matching each pair sold with a pair donated to a child in need.
Every year, TOMS shoes sponsors One Day Without Shoes, which will be April 5 this year, when Americans are encouraged to go barefoot for all or part of the day, and to participate in walks and other activities barefoot.
UNT is hosting a shoe drive April 5-15 in honor of One Day Without Shoes. Collection boxes will be setup across campus throughout most buildings.
Mycoskie will speak at the UNT April 13 as part of UNT's Earth Week celebrations and Financial Literacy Week. His lecture is being sponsored by the Multicultural Center, the Office of Sustainability, the Campus Life office, and other offices and organizations.
Only six months after becoming the founder and "chief shoe giver" of TOMS Shoes, Mycoskie had sold 10,000 pairs of shoes from his apartment in Venice, Calif., and returned to Argentina with family members and friends to hand-deliver the same number of pairs of shoes to needy children. A year later, TOMS was honored with the People's Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Mycoskie was also presented with the U.S. Secretary of State's 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence, which celebrates a company's commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation, exemplary practices and democratic values worldwide.
As of last September, TOMS had provided more than 1 million pairs of shoes to children in more than 20 countries throughout the world. The company has giving partners throughout the world that distribute the shoes as part of community development, education, and health and hygiene programs.
In addition to creating TOMS Shoes, Mycoskie started EZ Laundry, a door-to-door laundry service for college students, when he was a student at Southern Methodist University. The business expanded to eight locations across the Southwest. After selling EZ Laundry, Mycoskie created an outdoor media company that provided larger-than-life billboards of country stars in Nashville and Dallas. Clear Channel purchased it. Mycoskie also started the following:
- Reality 24/7, a cable TV channel dedicated to reality news and programs
- Drivers Ed Direct, a behind-the-wheel training school featuring hybrid cars
- A marketing firm specializing in brand development and viral marketing
What: Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, to speak on campus. The program is part of the UNT's Earth Week celebrations and Financial Literacy Week.
When: 4:30 p.m. April 13, followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m.
Where: UNT's Auditorium Building, located on West Hickory Street between avenues A and B (1401 W. Hickory St.), UNT campus
Cost: $10 for general public and $5 for UNT faculty and staff members.
- UNT students with identification will receive free tickets
- Tickets are available at the Union Information Center on the third level of UNT's University Union, which is located one block west of Welch and Prairie streets
- To reserve tickets, call 940-565-3805
Contact: UNT Multicultural Center at 940-565-2711
Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org.