Blake Mycoskie's third-place finish in 2002 on CBS' The Amazing Race was just the beginning of his real adventure. After visiting Argentina on a segment of the show, Mycoskie later returned and noticed how many children didn't have shoes. So he started Toms, a shoe line inspired by the popular espadrilles he saw Argentine polo players wearing. His shoes were different, though: Every pair sold would result in a pair of shoes donated to a child in need. Today, Toms is an internationally known brand that has helped children in developing countries all over the world, and has expanded to eyewear, bags, even coffee. Mycoskie now serves as "chief shoe giver" and his cozy office at the Toms headquarters in Los Angeles is a testament to his life, career and need for peace. "[I wanted] to have a creative refuge from the frenetic pace of the Toms HQ," he said. "And to have a living room to hang out in on the weekends, since I was originally living on a boat at the time and had very little living space."
Mycoskie picked up this painting at the Sundance Resort where he married his wife, Heather. “I love how stoic the look on his face is,” he explained. “It gives me peace when I look at it.”
The photo collage is from one of Mycoskie’s favorite giving trips in Nepal. “We went there when we launched Toms Eyewear,” he said, “and got to see cataract surgeries being performed and meet many of the children who would receive our services through the launch of our eyewear.”
The license plate behind the photo of Mycoskie and his baby is very special to him. “It was my Nannaw’s, who passed away a few years ago at 90 years of age,” he said. “She and I were very close, and I think I got a lot of my personality, energy and eccentric dressing from her. She loved to bet on everything and always used to say “U BET,” so she put it on her license plate and it was given to me when she passed.”
“I find that I learn from biographies because you learn what worked and what didn’t from the authors and their businesses,” Mycoskie said. “I did not go to college or business school, so I have learned the most from reading these books and getting inspired.”
This story first appeared in the March 28 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.