Back in September 2013, TOMS made commitment to produce TOMS Giving Shoes and to help establish and support the growth of a responsible and sustainable shoe industry in Haiti at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting.
Well, it’s a new year with lots of new progress:
We’re closer to opening our Port-au-Prince factory, meeting our goal of starting operations in the first quarter of 2014. Machinery has arrived and 25 employees have been hired — 85% of which are local, and 43% are women. We’ve also begun training and small-scale production of TOMS Giving Shoes.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, TOMS Founder and Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie received a great image from our Haiti factory of the very first shoe produced at the facility. You may have seen it Blake’s Twitter or Instagram.
But it hasn’t come without its difficulties. At TOMS, we’ve learned that any time you build something from the ground up, you’re going to face some challenges. We are learning every step of the way, and are inspired by the great work of our partners helping us move forward through these challenges in order to begin producing shoes.
In addition to manufacturing, TOMS is continuing the Haiti Artist Collective, one of our favorite programs, that employs 30 Haitian artisans to design and hand-paint limited-edition retail shoes in Haiti. Each pair is unique and available to customers exclusively through TOMS.com.
And finally, it’s Giving as usual. This year, we’re continuing our Giving efforts in Haiti with some of our amazing Giving Partners like IMA World Health, Feed The Children and Partners In Health, among others, integrating new shoes into programs that help provide access to education and good health.
To learn more about our commitment to Haiti, check out this blog post from September: http://www.toms.com/stories/giving/toms-commitment-to-haiti.