I have visited many eyewear manufacturer’s headquarters and showrooms, and they all impress. But walking into TOMS’ Playa Del Rey facility immediately invokes a sense of the world as a community with those working for TOMS’ as part of this global family. The barista bar at the center of the large open reception area serves TOMS’ Roast, a sustainably harvested coffee. Its cool, urban meets surfer, meets world décor and its many niches invite collaboration and connection. Beyond the decor, I sense the social consciousness that is woven into the company’s fabric and culture.

TOMS’ Shoes was founded with social responsibility and giving back as its purpose. They were the first to introduce the “one for one” business model. It was not done as a business marketing tool but out of a genuine desire to use a business model founded on social responsibly to help those in need and make the world better. TOMS’ Shoes was created by Blake Mycoskie, who after seeing the hardships of children in Argentina growing up without shoes created the company and its “One for One” program that gives a new pair of shoes to a needy child with every purchase of a pair of TOMS’ shoes. They have since expanded to other categories with eyewear being one.

Our tour of TOMS’ Eyewear is given by Darin Dennee, the eyewear category director who introduces us to his team. Darin’s passion and conviction shine through as he explains the history behind TOM’s and their journey into the eyewear category. Darin and his team are perfectionists at heart, and this is why they opted to design and produce their own eyewear rather than outsource. An example of social conscience is present in the rainbow themed Pride collection. I love the styles and the quality, and I love that every pair sold helps to restore vision. Check it out on TOMS’ YouTube channel.

While other brands use images of celebrities wearing their frames to promote their brands, TOMS Eyewear chose “Change Makers” to wear their frames. To them this better represents what the brand stands for and their message. These Change Makers have dedicated their lives to helping make the world a better place, and have faced and overcome extraordinary challenges.

Many companies have made social responsibility part of their marketing campaign, and this can only be good but TOMS’ pioneered this movement, and as its founder Blake Mycoskie puts it, TOMS’ mission is to “Use business to change lives.” Hats off to TOMS’!

Deborah Kotob
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