Biz-Savvy Sibs Give Back
by sari anne tuschman
Spending time with Paige and Blake Mycoskie brings two words to mind: good genes. The sister and brother are both attractive—she, 30, with long blonde hair and an all-American vibe, and he, 34, with blue eyes and a mess of curly brown hair. The duo—who are also athletically gifted enough to have competed on The Amazing Race together—have both launched successful (and socially conscious) fashion lines, Aviator Nation and Toms, respectively.
Aviator Nation is Paige’s brand of vintage-inspired tees and casual wear, while Toms is a shoe line best known for its One for One principle—buy a pair of Toms and the company gives a pair to a child in need. Raised in Arlington, Texas, the Mycoskies—who now both call LA’s Westside home (Paige lives in Venice where her boutique is also located, while Blake resides in Marina Del Ray)—had business savvy from the get-go. “When we were kids, we had a lemonade stand or a doughnut stand every summer,” says Paige. “Throughout my whole childhood, I was constantly selling something.”
Toms Goes to the Top
In typical brother-sister form, Blake disagrees. “[Paige] definitely had more of an entrepreneurial work ethic growing up than I did,” says Blake. “I played tennis, and that’s all I did.” Perhaps Blake is more self-deprecating than honest, though: In college, he had a laundry business; after graduation, he started an outdoor-advertising business he ultimately sold to Clear Channel; and Toms has become one of the most recognizable casual shoe brands in recent memory. This fall the company gave away its one-millionth pair of shoes.
As for Paige, her entrance into the fashion world came unexpectedly. “I’ve always liked shopping in vintage stores for old T-shirts and sweatshirts, and one day I bought a sewing machine and started making T-shirts for myself. After people kept asking me what I was wearing, I thought, Maybe I should try to make a collection. When I first started, I wasn’t very good so everything had a handmade look to it, and as I continued I wanted to keep that,” says Paige of the brand’s trademark retro, wornin look.
Clearly, the giving-back spirit runs in the Mycoskie blood as much as the entrepreneurial instinct does—Paige has donated profits from one of her lines to charities in Africa and has plans for more philanthropic collections in the future. There is no question the siblings (they also have a younger brother, Tyler, 25, who works at Toms) share a mutual respect and admiration. “I think part of me always wants [Blake’s] approval,” says Paige. And in a business as cutthroat as fashion, it’s good to have someone who’s always on your side. “One nice thing about us both working in this business is we go through similar things, and it can be lonely,” says Blake. “It’s nice to be able to call Paige and get her advice on something.” As for a collaboration between Toms and Aviator Nation, it’s something the brands’ fans will have to keep hoping for. “I think when we do it, we have to do it big and really tell the story,” says Blake. And what a story it is.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS KILKUS/ALYSSAPIZER.COM (PORTRAIT)