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Editor’s Note: TOMS Shoes and Social Enterprise Chic

TOMS Shoes has become a hit in both the business and fashion worlds while doing its part to help those who need it.

If you’ve somehow not heard of the company and its one-for-one mission, here it is: for every pair of shoes TOMS sells, it gives away one pair to a needy child. (“TOMS” comes from “Shoes for Tomorrow.”)

The company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie, has become quite the celebrity in certain circles and has collaborated with everyone from Bill Clinton to Charlize Theron to Digg founder Kevin Rose. And the company recently earned the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence, which Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton personally presented to Blake.

I got the inside scoop on TOMS when I profiled McCombs alum Melissa Chu for our Texas magazine article “Profit with a Purpose.”

Melissa is an intelligent, quirky soul who had tried nonprofit work but was frustrated at seeing good ideas fail to get off the ground because they weren’t backed up by solid business thinking. She thinks social enterprise ventures like TOMS are a better approach because balancing profit with doing good is a much more sustainable business model.

One of the perks of being a TOMS employee (in addition to 6 free pairs of shoes each year!) is participating in a shoe drop – the trips where volunteers travel to rural villages to distribute the shoes to children—many of whom have never owned a pair of shoes.

Melissa traveled to Argentina in December for a shoe drop and was nice enough to share some of her photos with us. Looking at the children’s grins—and their living conditions—gives a whole new context to the excitement of getting a new pair of shoes.

(To see captions, click the Full Screen button in the bottom right and then click Show Info.)

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