TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie will speak this Saturday at the Arlington Theater about social entrepreneurship and business-minded humanitarian efforts as part of the university’s ongoing Arts & Lectures series.
The footwear company gives a pair of its shoes to a child in a domestic or international impoverished community for every pair purchased, and has donated over 1 million pairs since it launched in 2006. Mycoskie published his New York Times bestselling book Start Something That Matters earlier this month, encouraging individuals to pursue socially-conscious business interests.
According to Arts & Lectures Programming Manager Heather Silva, the venue will provide an opportunity for Mycoskie to share his philanthropic vision with local residents and the campus community.
“He’s a great fit,” Silva said. “He delivers a different kind of message to the community. [UCSB] hopes to build opportunities for the community surrounding us.”
Mycoskie formulated his unique business model after meeting children in Argentina who were at risk of developing various foot injuries and diseases because they owned no shoes. TOMS has added eyewear to its line of merchandise and is selling them through the same business model.
Third-year art and psychology major Megan Ogle recently established a TOMS Club at UCSB that strives to promote the same social awareness that fuels Mycoskie’s entrepreneurship.
Although the club’s details are not finalized, Ogle said its overall goal is encouraging individuals to consider the implications of their purchases from a humanitarian viewpoint.
“I’ll promote [the TOMS] message but [I will] also promote conscious consumerism, which is really important in this area,” Ogle said. “[Santa Barbara] is a really affluent area and a lot of kids have a lot of money [here]. If these kids realize that they can buy a pair of shoes and help someone out at the same time — that is so amazing.”
According to Ogle, the campus group hopes to screen the TOMS documentary on campus and hold various other fundraising events.
Additionally, the club is partnering with various TOMS advocates in the area including Santa Barbara Outfitters and Savvy on State Street to promote the “1,000 Shoe Goal,” aiming to donate 1,000 shoes before the fundraiser’s December deadline.
Santa Barbara Outfitters employee Adam Goodrich said store owners and UCSB alumni Mark and Luisa Hyatt support TOMS’ community-focused approach.
“The owners both went to UCSB and are really involved in the community. [Mark] likes the whole ‘one-for-one’ deal,” Goodrich said. “We have some world-minded products that carry some type of message. They are somehow incorporated into our environmentally-friendly mindset.”
Silva said she is optimistic that Mycoskie’s speech will fuel students and other community members to participate in the community project and reach the 1,000 shoes mark.
The event will begin at 4 p.m. and admission is $28 for the general public and free for all local students who present valid IDs.