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TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes

Blake Mycoskie, 32
Venice, Calif.

A serial entrepreneur who once launched a college laundry service and competed on the CBS television show The Amazing Race, Mycoskie traveled to Argentina in January 2006 to learn how to play polo, practice tango, and do some community service work. While there, he was struck by the country's health and poverty problems and discovered that numerous children did not have proper footwear. Soon after, he came up with the idea to create a shoe for the U.S. market based on the traditional Argentine alpargataa slip-on—in lightweight fabrics and vibrant colors and prints.

Five months later he launched TOMS with $300,000 of his own money. Available at such retailers as Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom's, IT sold 10,000 pairs during its first year in business. For every pair of TOMS sold, the company donates a pair to a child in need. Since its launch, Mycoskie has donated over 115,000 shoes to children in need around the world through a series of "Shoe Drop" tours. The 45-employee company has earned an estimated $4.6 million since its launch.