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OVERWATCH: ORIGINS EDITION
Toms Abandons One for One, the Giving Model it Originated
When Blake Mycoskie launched Toms shoes out of his Venice Beach apartment in 2006, the company’s one-for-one giving model was both revolutionary and extremely easy for consumers to understand: Buy a pair of shoes and a child in a developing country gets a pair of shoes. The simplicity of the concept, boosted by a legion of celebrity fans at the time, led to rapid success with Toms becoming one of the first mainstream purpose-driven fashion companies ever. Naturally, that one-for-one idea took off, with other companies like Warby Parker launching with similar models wherein consumerism could result directly in charitable giving of some kind.
Of course, companies evolve. On Wednesday, Toms is announcing that it’s officially forgoing the one-for-one giving model it pioneered in favor of something more flexible. While Toms will continue to distribute shoes — as well as other items like eyeglasses and water as it’s begun doing as its business has diversified and expanded — to those in need, its new giving model is defined thusly: For every $3 the company makes, it gives $1 away. Or in other words, one third of net profits will go towards the company’s giving fund
Of course, Toms’s giving process has been more complex than simply «one for one» for some time now. The company just hadn’t fully communicated that to consumers. It’s doing so with the release of its first-ever detailed impact report that outlines the change the company has created thus far, and its goals moving forward. Some highlights: Toms has given nearly 100 million pairs of shoes to date as well as 780,000 sight restorations and 722,000 weeks of safe water. It’s committed $6.5 million to various impact grants with its 205 giving partners. Additional areas of giving over the past three years have included safe birth services and kits, bullying prevention and response, and solar light. In 2018, Toms made a $5 million commitment to organizations working to end gun violence. The same year, it also became a certified B Corp.
According to Toms’s Chief Giving Officer Amy Smith, the shift away from one for one is about ensuring the company can have the biggest impact possible, and show its customers that. «The consumer is more savvy than ever; they’re more engaged than ever; they’re voting with their wallets,» she tells me ahead of the announcement. «The combination of Toms wanting to do as much as we could in a way that was aligned with the passions of our consumers, we really started to wrestle with this idea of: Maybe it’s time to evolve a little bit and maybe it’s time to do more than just our one-for-one giving.»
Smith employs a giving team whose members help identify how Toms can give back most effectively and through which organizations. «[They] are everything from international development experts to public health MBAs that are really focused on and understand what impactful giving looks like and what community development looks like, so that group has put together a really robust vetting process for our partners,» she explains. «We have account managers on our team so we’re in regular communication with our giving partners around: What issues are they facing, what are they focused on, how can we be most helpful.»
Toms also used consumer insights to ensure that the issues it focuses on align with the ones its customers are passionate about. Earlier this year, it launched «Pick your style, pick your stand,» which allowed shoppers to select a specific issue toward which a percentage of their purchase would go. «All that information informed the three areas that we’ll be focused on giving to going forward and that is: physical safety, mental health and equal access to opportunity,» says Smith.
Given how synonymous Toms had become with one for one, Smith says it was «scary» to have the first conversations about changing it, but she feels that consumers are now savvy enough to understand a more complex giving model.
«With them being much more engaged with the issues, we’re trusting that they’re ok with something that’s a little bit more complicated, and the issues we’re focused on are really meaningful to them, so they’re willing to dig that one click deeper to really understand how we’re going about it,» she says.
One-for-one is also not as novel and newsworthy as it was at the peak of Toms’s popularity and reports suggest the company’s growth has stalled somewhat in recent years. Annual revenue, which the company doesn’t disclose publicly, was estimated at $336 million in 2018. «We’re not kicking ass, but we’re not on the verge of bankruptcy,» Mycoskie told Footwear News earlier this year.
Marrying thoughtful, impactful giving with profitability is no easy feat. («We give as much as we can while maintaining a sustainable for-profit business,» says Smith. «We don’t let that number dip below 30%.») Purpose-driven companies are now more common than ever and, thus, more scrutinized than ever by consumers and journalists. The one-for-one model, for instance, has been criticized for being too simplistic, failing to address more pressing issues in the communities or the root causes of their poverty, reducing demand for locally-made goods and even perpetuating imperialism. A more thoughtful, holistic approach like the one Toms seems to be going for might be more effective, especially when executed by a company with as much experience with and expertise in giving as Toms.
It’s hard not to wonder if the company’s decision could spell the end of pure one-for-one models as we know them. Smith thinks we’ll continue to see companies go down the one for one path, noting that, «What will continue to grow and continue to be more and more compelling is purpose-driven companies in general.»
Online-Dating: Diese Sprüche nerven laut einer Umfrage am meisten
Klassisch oder doch einfach nur richtig platt? Bei Aufreißersprüchen ist der Ubergang häufig fließend. Das gilt vor allem fürs Online-Dating. Während beim Flirten von Angesicht zu Angesicht ein schlechter Spruch vielleicht noch ausgebügelt werden kann, ist online häufig der erste Eindruck endgültig im Eimer. Die Dating-Plattform LoveScout24 wollte nun von rund 2000 Mitgliedern wissen, welche Sprüche gar nicht gehen. (Lesen Sie auch: Laut unserer Kolumnistin sind diese Dating-Regeln kompletter Blödsinn)
Spitzenreiter: Diese Sprüche törnen beim Online-Dating ab
Der Spitzenreiter ist so unscheinbar wie tödlich. «Hi, wie geht’s?» führt bei den meisten der befragten Singles zum genervten Augenverdrehen. Der Spruch führt mit 40 Prozent die Negativliste an. Frauen zeigten sich mit 48 Prozent von der fantasielosen Anmache besonders abgetörnt.
Bei den Männern stieß hingegen die Nummer zwei auf besonders wenig Gegenliebe. «Ich suche einen Partner auf Augenhöhe» wurde von 31 Prozent der Befragten zu den nervigsten Sprüchen beim Online-Dating gekürt. 36 Prozent der Männer, aber nur 26 Prozent der Frauen, stimmten hier zu. (Auch interessant: Menschen mit diesem Beruf haben laut Umfrage am häufigsten Sex)
Vorsicht bei diesen Anmachsprüchen
Das Online-Dating als lebensbejahendes Ereignis zieht ebenfalls nicht. Sprüche wie «Lebe jeden Tag als wäre es dein letzter» (30 Prozent) oder «Carpe diem!» (29 Prozent) sorgen bei fast jedem Dritten tendenziell für Übelkeit. Nicht hoch im Kurs steht der Umfrage zufolge häufig außerdem Eigenlob («Meine Freunde sagen über mich, dass ich ziemlich lustig bin»: 29 Prozent, «Ich bin einfach anders»: 20 Prozent). Der Hinweis «No ONS» («keine One-Night-Stands») nervt jeden fünften Mann (26 Prozent).
Es lohnt sich also, beim Online-Dating künftig etwas länger über den ersten Satz nachzudenken. Bei Emoticons und Smileys ist übrigens ebenfalls Vorsicht geboten. Wer jeden Satz mit «:-)» beendet, ist allein deswegen bereits bei 20 Prozent der befragten Singles unten durch. (Schon gewusst? Intuitives Dating ist der neue Trend – und verspricht eine stressfreie Partnersuche)
Founding a Small Brand Outside a Fashion Capital Can Be Good for Business
Shelly Horst and Dryw Scully might be living an American dream in South Philly. The couple behind Room Shop Vintage, makers of those bodacious organza scrunchies, opened a showroom in a renovated former vocational school known as the Bok building. They also live one block from their showroom, which means avoiding a morning commute stuck in traffic or sandwiched coat-to-coat on a train.
Moving from Brooklyn to Philadelphia was «such a relief in so many ways because I wasn’t constantly having to protect my energy on the subway platform,» Horst says. She and her husband, a life-long Philly resident, left their corporate retail jobs and took a road trip across the US, thrifting and collecting vintage pieces along the way. A few successful pop-up vintage sales later — along with selling on Instagram — and Room Shop was born.
It feels dated at this point to suggest that a designer is in an unusual position by not being located in a city like New York or LA. The fashion-week infrastructure matters less and less, and with the democratizing effect of Instagram, if your brand hits, it hits.
«Instagram is my love language,» Jen Zeano of Jen Zeano Designs, another brand based outside the recognized fashion capitals, says.
Her «Latina Power» shirt, created in 2016 as a response to the presidential election, has been shared on Instagram by Gina Rodriguez from «Jane the Virgin» and Aimee Carrero, the voice of Princess Elena on «Elena of Avalor.» This buzz, along with being selected as one of 10 Latina entrepreneurs for the #WeAllGrow conference, propelled Zeano’s business.
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Born in Matamoros, a Mexican border city, she grew up right across the bridge in the South Texas town of Brownsville. Though she travels frequently about five hours north to Austin for pop-up shops, she can’t envision leaving her home in the Rio Grande Valley. Aside from being an only child who doesn’t want to be far from her parents, her brand wouldn’t be her brand without the inspiration of this border area where over 90% of residents are Latinx.
«I don’t want to leave the authentic food, the culture, the Posadas around the holidays. I feel like I’m able to create this brand so well from here,» Zeano says. «I’m so connected to my culture and my roots here that I don’t see myself wanting to leave anytime.»
Portland-based, workwear-inspired clothing line Ginew was born from a wedding, a trip to Marfa and a stranger offering $200 for Erik Brodt’s handmade buffalo belt. Brodt and his wife Amanda Bruegl co-founded the brand that’s currently the only Native American-owned denim collection. Ginew comes from Brodt’s Ojibwe name, and Bruegl is Oneida and Stockbridge-Munsee.
After getting married in 2010, the couple gave wedding party members belts made from the hide of a buffalo Brodt’s dad had shot. When they moved to Texas, Brodt began learning more about leatherwork as Bruegl attended school. Both Bruegel and Brodt are full-time doctors in addition to running their brand.
A caffeinated morning spent at Marfa’s El Cosmico catalyzed the couple into designing apparel when Brodt started imagining what his great-great-grandfather would have worn when he transitioned from a sort of hunter-gatherer lifestyle into a more agrarian existence.
Upon moving to Portland in 2015, they describe being instantly welcomed instead of having to elbow their way into a new community. «It’s unlike any place we’ve lived or been before,» Brodt says.
A coffee-shop manager friend who shapes surfboards gifted the couple a board he had glassed with a Ginew blanket pattern. There’s also Dehen 1920, the century-old, family-owned company that supported Bruegl and Brodt when they arrived in Portland.
«They’ve really taken us under their wing to make sure that we exist and continue to exist in this space,» Brodt says. These are some of the examples he uses when talking about the city’s specialness. «Really the magic of Portland and the magic of our experience here, it all comes down to people,» he says.
He also credits the Oregon Native American Chamber of Commerce (ONAC) for bolstering Ginew’s presence in Portland and connecting them to a community of Native American businesses, large and small. ONAC is a business incubator created to support educational and economic opportunities for Native Americans in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
«There are a lot of different tribes here, civic leaders, there’s a lot of engagement with the tribal communities,» he says.
For Zeano, a local organization fostering economic development for Brownsville’s small businesses has also been a boon for her company, helping her during the scalability phase she’s currently in. She also connected with a mentor at a women’s business center who’s been there for her as she navigates being a new-ish small business owner.
«Those are the two things for me,» Zeano says of the benefits to living in her South Texas city. «Finding the help that we need and being surrounded by the thing that makes our brand what it is.»
Business incubators and mentors are, of course, available in New York and LA, but the one-on-one attention and tight-knit community might not be found in quite the same way. All three brands share a similar quality of elevated style — looks that could do well anywhere — and yet they feel inextricably connected to the cities where they live.
For Philly-based Room Shop, it’s Philadelphia’s Fabric Row, an area with historic, family-owned textiles businesses, that supplies inspiration, generations of acumen and deadstock fabric for the couple’s sustainable pieces. For Ginew it’s Portland sunsets («the colors are quite unlike anything I’ve seen before,» Brodt says) and the possibility of encountering a bear sitting in the middle of the road, as the brand founders did recently, that infuse the label’s color palettes and designs.
Logistical challenges that could be faced by being located further from fashion capitals seem to be the sorts of challenges any young brand might encounter, whether it’s the unrealistic shipping expectations that Amazon has created or finding the right manufacturers.
«We’re currently in the scaling process and trying to become more of a well-rounded lifestyle brand with different kinds of products,» Zeano says. «Finding those manufacturers has definitely been a challenge just because we’re not LA, where you can go downtown and there are streets and streets of manufacturers.»
But she also mentions the unique ports of entry available to her brand by being located in a border region. Similarly, for Room Shop, Horst says that while it’s easier to find factories in LA, the prices are much higher.
«We’re able to still make things in Philly, in the US, but [we can actually] afford to make them here,» she says.
For her, an unexpected benefit of being located outside New York or LA was having to develop a salient brand identity.
«I think if we lived in New York, we would definitely have more exposure,» she says. «We’ve had to work harder at that, but I think in a good way. It’s made our point of view and perspective and brand identity very clear.»
All three brands foresee being located in their respective home cities for the long run. Brodt described a setting during a photoshoot where five languages were spoken and everybody, from stylist’s assistant to model, was Indigenous. It was not only a physical embodiment of Ginew’s goal to increase the visibility of Indigenous people in the fashion world, but it was also a reminder of why Portland is an ideal city for the couple.
«It’s a way to look at our community, recognize the expertise and the talent that is here, and to press on from the excuses that everybody’s gonna give like, ‘Oh, we would love to hire a Native American photographer, but they just don’t exist at the talent level we need,'» Brodt says. «It’s like, ‘Well, actually, this photographer’s done a bunch of stuff with Nike.'»
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