TOMS Eyewear Line Gives the Gift of Sight
by kathryn romeyn
TOMS Eyewear’s Classic 201 and 101 sunglasses ($135 each) in Tortoise
|Blake Mycoskie on a recent trip to Nepal|
In just five years, LA’s Blake Mycoskie has outfitted more than a million children with TOMS shoes, and in doing so, started a global movement rooted in his altruistic “One for One” pledge. Now that his shoe empire is running smoothly, he’s set his sights—literally—on a new sector of giving with the launch of TOMS Eyewear, featuring classic aviators, wayfarers and Jackie O sunglasses.
Partnering with Berkeley’s Seva Foundation—which has worked for decades in Cambodia, Tibet, Nepal and other countries to save people from blindness—TOMS provides one surgery, medical treatment or pair of eyeglasses for each sunglass frame sold. On each Italian-made pair of shades are three colored stripes: The front stripe represents the buyer; the back, the life they’re brightening; and the middle stripe represents TOMS, bringing the two together. “I wanted to make sure when you wear the glasses you’re constantly reminded of what your purchase has done for someone else,” says Mycoskie
Fresh off a three-week trip to Nepal where he scrubbed into a sight-saving surgery made possible by TOMS Eyewear sales (and which almost made him faint), Mycoskie is surer than ever about the new initiative. “Of all the needs I saw around the world, sight was the most obvious choice because it is a relatively simple need that is fixable,” he says. “What really gets me excited is that it has such an immediate, extreme impact."
Additionally, Mycoskie wrote his first book (released last month), Start Something That Matters, as a primer for fledgling social entrepreneurs. “Hopefully it will inspire people to get more engaged in that part of their humanity,” he says. In true “One for One” form, TOMS will donate a book to a child in need for every copy of Start Something sold. Mycoskie is also giving 50 percent of the book’s proceeds to “help others start something that matters and make a positive impact in the world,” he says.
As for the most eye-opening part of this vision venture, Mycoskie cites a twentysomething Nepalese mother’s cataract surgery. “When they took her patches off, she looked down crying and said it was the first time she had ever seen her baby,” he says. “I was crying, my staff was crying—it was a really special moment.”
photograph by jacquelyn allen (sunglasses)