Manufacturing Overseas is OK if you Look Like This
If you haven’t heard of Toms Shoes, they sell canvas shoes by doing a lot of viral marketing to the young. At Squidoo.com is this article on their “One Day Without Shoes” campaign.
One thing they do is to publicize when customers customize the plain canvas versions of the $40 canvas casual shoe with their own artwork. They post pictures of custom shoes on their web site. It is now a genuine phenomena that can be seen on campuses around the country. There is such interest that third parties will customize your Toms Shoes for you.
This interview withToms Shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie, portrays an energetic and socially conscious entrepreneur. Not stated in the article but equally impressive is that he has figured out how, in this day and age, to sell shoes manufactured in third world nations to Americans at a high markup. Wikipedia reports that Toms Shoes are manufactured in Argentina, China, and Ethiopia.
So what does Mycoskie answer when the interviewer asks about manufacturing overseas? Of course that question never comes up. I wish it had because then Mycoskie could explain how exploiting cheap labor markets brings those markets up by providing jobs to the locals. And this in turn provides customers to the local merchants. With luck Mycoskie could explain all the benefits that manufacturing brings to a locality. And he could do it with the charm of the “I’m a Mac” guy. And thus at long last maybe some progressives will learn that business is not the enemy but the friend of poor people.
It goes without saying that if Mycoskie looked like Dick Cheney the press wouldn’t be asking him questions like “…can you explain the driving force behind your seemingly endless energy and passion?”