Company that gives away shoes sets sights on eyewear

(CBS News) Since it was founded in 2006, one company has given away 10 million pairs of shoes. TOMS is behind all that giving -- but who is the famous Tom behind the company's name?

As it turns out, it's actually someone named Blake.

After encountering extreme poverty while traveling through Argentina, Blake Mycoskie founded the company, which aimed to outfit children kept out of school because they couldn't afford shoes. He created an alternative kind of footwear popularized by farmers with soles made out of rope.

But where did the name TOMS originate?

Mycoskie explained, "When I started the company, the idea was, if we sell a pair of shoes today, we'll give away a pair tomorrow. And we were going to call them Tomorrow Shoes, but I couldn't get tomorrows to fit on the tag. So I shortened it to TOMS, and people have called me Tom ever since."

These days, TOMS has moved into selling eyewear, as well, and raising money to help restore sight.

Mycoskie said, "As we looked at all the different needs in the world, you know, whether it's water, food, shelter, all these things, one of the things I was impressed was the nonprofits that were doing eye care, whether that's in the United States."

"We've done screenings, eyewear distribution just outside of New York to Nepal or India, but giving a child a pair of prescription glasses will change their life, and then on the other side of the spectrum, we do a lot of cataract surgeries for elderly people who have lost their sight and they lose their jobs, they can't care for their family. So by selling a simple pair of sunglasses, we can give someone their sight back, and to me, that that's been the most exciting thing I've got to do and be part of in the last seven years."

"CTM" co-host Charlie Rose remarked, "You've proved that doing good can be good for business."

For more with Mycoskie, watch his full interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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