HEALTHY LIVING

"Be The Change You Want To See In The World"

11/02/2010 02:07 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Blake Mycoskie, founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, says that this Mahatma Ghandi quote is his favorite-and he even sells shoes that display those words. I met Mycoskie last evening at Arianna Huffington's house in Los Angeles, and he so impressed me that I visited him this afternoon at TOMS headquarters in Santa Monica. Fascinating business: For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, it gives a pair to a needy child. TOMS are simple $48 canvas shoes that you can find in 400 U.S. outlets, including Nordstrom (JWN), Urban Outfitters (URBN), and Whole Foods (WFMI)-TOMS' biggest customer. So we're talking lots of shoes for the needy.

Mycoskie, 32, launched TOMS in May 2006 after visiting Argentina and seeing kids without shoes-and wanting to do something to help them. In just two and a half years, TOMS has given away more than 70,000 shoes in Argentina, South Africa and Ethiopia. Measured by revenues, the company is small-$8 million projected this year. But Mycoskie says it will be profitable this year. He seems to have found a sustainable model. Rather than spend on marketing-which he says eats up 20% of a typical shoe company's gross margin-he spends on "shoe drops." These shoe drops earn him good will and positive word of mouth.

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