The Business of Storytelling
Blake Mycoskie is a serial entrepreneur.
By the time he was 30, he had started four businesses and found time to compete in the hit TV show, The Amazing Race.
After all that, he needed a break. He chose to travel to South America because he wanted to learn polo.
In Buenos Aires, one evening, he fell in to conversion with two women. They were on a ‘shoe drive’ - collecting second-hand shoes from wealthy families and taking them to the favelas. Intrigued, Blake tagged along.
It was a life-changing experience that sowed the seed for a multi-million dollar shoe empire.
The following day, he was telling his polo teacher about the experience. His teacher turned to him and asked: “But what happens when these kids grow up?”
Blake wrestled with this question overnight. Could a business achieve more than a charity when it came to helping these kids?
Then, the idea came to him. He would sell shoes and call them Tomorrow shoes (later shortened to TOMS). For every pair sold, he would give a pair to those in need.
He had noticed the simple canvas shoes worn by the local polo players and thought they would be popular back in the USA. After meeting with local manufacturers, he returned to Los Angeles with 250 pairs in a suitcase. And, with effort, he got them in to a couple of independent fashion stores.
Shortly after, an LA Times journalist interviewed Blake about the shoes. The day the article appeared, he received orders for 2,200 pairs. He had only 80 pairs left. And then he got a call from Vogue.
TOMS went from zero dollars in annual revenue to $450 million in under seven years, becoming the fastest selling shoe company in the world.
How and why was Blake’s vision so successful? Because there was a great story behind it. People loved the idea that by buying a pair of shoes, they would be gifting another pair to a disadvantaged child.
The most successful businesses in the world share one thing in common with TOMS: they all tell their stories well.
Storytelling isn’t just fundamental to businesses that do good. It’s good for business.
Want to learn more about storytelling?
Try our popular course on the subject made in collaboration with some of the world’s top experts. Your journey to telling stories that have impact starts today!