I had a conversation with my older brother the other day and it reminded me why I write for SocialEarth. At ages 23 and 22, my brother and I are on the cusp of becoming severely jaded people. Our immediate world is full of friends wavering between unemployment, slave wages, and slow insanity and our extended family is populated by adults dripping with realism. We both have completed stints in the for-profit and philanthropic orbs and finding neither destiny to be entirely palatable, we recently reconvened in the living room of our parent’s house, expressing the mutual sentiment of feeling LOST.
“Why do you want to work for a shoe company?” my brother asked, looking over my shoulder at my latest job application.
“It’s not just a shoe company,” I defended. “It’s TOMS shoes…and Blake Mycoskie [the owner] just happens to be the only man who can make me cry in less than thirty seconds.” I was referring to the latest AT&T commercial where Blake promotes his cellular network as a way for him to stay in touch with his California office while doing shoe drops in areas of poverty at home and abroad. Known as the One for One Movement, the latter activity makes up the core of the TOMS shoes business plan: for every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need.
Founded in 2006, TOMS shoes has since given away over 140,000 pairs of shoes. By the end of 2009, that number will have grown by an additional 300,000.
My brother did not seem impressed. “Why can’t you just work for a for-profit company and then donate your individual money to a cause you support?”
“Because there is too much of a disconnect,” I explained. “I don’t want to be showing up at some corporate job that I hate every single day just so I can cut a check at the end of the year to a cause I care about. I need to be more directly involved than that in order to feel fulfilled.”
“Then why don’t you work for a non-profit?” he asked, but we both already knew the answer to that. Previous to this conversation, we had been reviewing our growing student loan debt; a career in the non-profit sector did not promise the financial return we needed to meet our repayment plans. Besides, as my brother learned the hard way once, you only have so much room to move in a non-profit when the money is coming from someone else’s hands.
Maybe the next step seems obvious – which is why such an awesome website like SocialEarth exists – or maybe it’s not. Just in case, I want to reiterate for those of you who are first visiting, already in the know, or still curious as to why social enterprises are so damn cool.
I sat my brother down on the couch and did my best to explain. “Imagine you could show up for work every day knowing that your company represented something far more holistic than making paper products, specializing in graphic design, or whatever, “ I described. “Imagine if the c-word was no longer a swear word in the workplace because it stood for ‘community’ instead of ‘corporation.’ What if it wasn’t just about the 9-5, but making a difference in someone’s life? What if you could make enough money to live on and solve world problems at the same time? Kill two birds with one stone…get the best of both worlds – for yourself and for others, you get the idea…That’s what social enterprise is and that’s the movement I want to be with. That’s why I want to work for TOMS shoes and that’s why I write for SocialEarth.”
Ha! This may be the cheesiest blog entry I’ve ever written, but I think it’s important to say. As the conversation between my brother and I transpired, I didn’t even realize how strongly I felt until the words were already out of my mouth. It was a crazy feeling – like hey, maybe I’m not lost after all – and if you’re here, reading this article and supporting SocialEarth and TOMS Shoes – guess what? Neither are you.
- With every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.
- Organization Type: For-Profit
- Website: www.tomsshoes.com
- Founder(s): Blake Mycoskie
- Founded: 2006
- Location: Santa Monica, California
- See complete company list here
Image Source: www.tomsshoes.com