Spending money with a clean conscious

These days, people want to spend money while keeping a clean conscious. The public is becoming more aware of the social and environmental cost of every purchase, giving companies like TOMS a leg up. By ensuring every sale has a positive impact, it’s helping make the world a little better from an office in Amsterdam. 

Headquartered in Los Angeles, TOMS was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Texas. It was originally called Tomorrow’s Shoes, but this proved a bit long for the label, so Mycoskie decided to shorten it. The company is famous for its "one for one" business model, which began with a promise to deliver free shoes to a child in need for every sale. So far, around 100 million pairs have found their way to kids around the globe.

With the addition of several new lines, including eyewear and coffee, TOMS now incorporates giving into every product. For example, in the case of eyewear sales, money is donated for surgery, medical care and prescription glasses. This innovative blend of for-profit and social entrepreneurship models has propelled TOMS to international fame and made it a true pioneer.

The buzz of a big city and the warmth of a village

In 2012, TOMS decided to bring its EMEA headquarters to Europe. When exploring locations, both the UK and the Netherlands were considered. “When making our final decision on location, the Netherlands had some clear advantages,” says Martin Johnston, managing director of TOMS EMEA. 

“Major fashion brands are based here. There is a large talent pool to draw from. Plus, the proximity of the port of Rotterdam and of our distribution centre meant we were able to penetrate lots of markets from here. All of those reasons added up to our choosing the Netherlands as our base.”

Once the company had decided on the country, Amsterdam was the obvious location for its office. “Amsterdam is a hub for social innovation, sustainability, creativity and fashion,” adds Johnston. And it has proven to be the right choice. “The city has definitely adopted TOMS,” he says, adding that Amsterdam “has the feeling of a big city with the pleasantness of a village.” 

Reaching the world from the Dutch capital

In the last few years, TOMS has been expanding its online presence and now has e-stores in the UK, France and Germany, in addition to the Netherlands. The company’s omnichannel strategy means it also has both physical locations across Europe and the Middle East, as well as products in many leading retailers.

The presence of its distribution centre in the Netherlands ensures orders in Europe are handled seamlessly and quickly. The company’s Dutch presence has paid off in other ways, too. Johnston was invited to an event commemorating the 475th anniversary of the Amsterdam canals, and was able to meet many CEOs of major corporations present here. 

“The Netherlands is globally one of the top three countries in terms of making a commitment to a better world, and the contacts I made at that event alone vindicated our decision to base ourselves here. There is a clear commitment in this country to sustainability and a better way to do business.”

A friend to show newcomers the ropes

Johnston also cited the huge amount of support and assistance TOMS received from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and amsterdam inbusiness, the regional development group for the city. 

“They were great! They reached out to us, showed us around; they even introduced us to our landlord, who has been the best property management company we could ask for,” he says. 

Clearly, TOMS is on track to continue its success story, combining principle, profit and impact, while contributing to Amsterdam’s reputation as a fashion leader. Looking towards the future, it’s pledged to donate $1 for every $3 it makes in profit, giving a significant boost to the impact it can have on the world. Hopefully, other companies will follow its lead.

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