TOMS was established in 2006 with a simple but strong idea: One for One. For every pair of shoes or sunglasses TOMS sells, a person in a developing country is given access to either prescription glasses or sight-saving surgery, or a pair of shoes. And with significant results: to date, they’ve supplied 10 million pairs of shoes in more than 60 countries. Now, with local allies, the Melbourne-based community development organisation Wise Foundation on board, TOMS has a pop-up shop in Melbourne’s CBD throughout September.
Sitting on the corner of Flinders and Manchester Lane, the space has an unassuming fit-out; shoes, made from sustainable and vegan materials, are laid out on old wooden crates and the walls feature canvas banners announcing TOMS progress. The One for One concept applies here too, with proceeds going towards Wise’s projects.
Mandy Glassey volunteers in the shop three days a week, and she recently worked on a Wise Foundation project in East Timor, building children’s centres in regions effected by war. “It’s just fantastic to be able to leave a project that can run without our help; that’s our goal – to create sustainable businesses for people who otherwise don’t have the means.”