The world of purpose-driven brands is a Brand Builder‘s playhouse – it’s where strategy meets informed impact, and controversy dances with conscience.
Today, we’re diving deep into the playbook of mission-led branding with Amy Smith, Chief Strategy & Impact Officer at TOMS. On this episode of Building Brand Advocacy, Paul and Amy tackle the evolution of TOMS from a one-to-one model to a global brand funding accessible mental health care, tracking revenue back to its direct impact, and what it should mean to be a B Corp.
If you’re ready to learn best practice for building better businesses and tackling highly-charged political topics as you do, buckle up. From her work overseeing TOMS’ corporate & social impact strategies, and as a Founding Member of Chief (a private network built to drive more women into leadership positions), Amy really knows it all. Tune in to hear how you rewire the DNA of your brand to achieve purpose-driven excellence in 2023, even if you’re a decade or deeper into the game.
Amy: As we announced this, I'm sort of laying in my bed the night before we have quite a few press interviews. And I'm saying, oh my god, what have we done? Like, I was very nervous and very scared. And to the letter, everyone we spoke with said, this makes sense. This is the right thing for Toms to do. This is what's next. Thank you for evolving.
Paul: Have you ever wondered why some brands grow exponentially, building legions of passionate fans that live and die by their logos? And some, well, don't. I do, all the time, and that's probably because I'm a massive brand nerd. I believe that there's a secret source at the core of every remarkable brand, a formula that sparks the growth of passionate communities of fans. And in this podcast, we're on a mission to uncover the first principles that any brand can apply to unlock that potential. This includes principles of brand building in a hyper-connected world, maintaining authenticity, and coordinating communities of advocates and fans to drive passion, awareness, community, and commerce. My name is Paul Archer, and I'm a specialist in brand advocacy, having consulted for hundreds of brands on the topic. And in this podcast, I interview the greatest brand-building minds and share my own learnings along with those of the incredible team of experts that I work with. We'll be translating the tactics, strategies, and actionable insights for brand builders to exacerbate their brand success. It's time to build brand advocacy.
Hello, hello. And in this week's episode of Building Brand Advocacy, we have Amy Smith, the chief brand and impact officer at Toms. Now, Toms were the OGs of the one for one movement. You know, when it comes to building a purpose led brand, every single person will be looking at them in terms of the way that they've done it. But today, they're quite a different brand. They're a brand that sells a hell of a lot more than just shoes, but they're also a brand that has let go and left behind that one for one movement. Their founder isn't there anymore,they've got different owners,they're a brand that's trying to find themselves and it's a really interesting time. And Amy is at this sort of the spearhead of trying to figure out what that means, trying to rethink how they can have the most impact as a brand, yet also still manage to exist as a brand to generate the income they need to continue having that impact. Now, for me, this is a kind of an area that I'm super interested in. And so we got a little bit nerdy on the B Corp and the areas around this. But I hope you enjoy it, because I certainly did. And while you're at it, maybe pop us a five star review. That would be sweet as well. I'd really appreciate that. So without further ado, let's kick things off. This is Amy Smith from Toms. Amy, this is an interview I've been really excited about because Toms is one of those brands that I mean, I've referred to countless times in workshops, everyone talks about them all the time. And impact is the number one part of it. And I've got the right person here to talk to you about it. But I mean, you've been there for almost seven years, and Tom is famous for that one-to-one model, which is really just establishing it up there. But in that time, you've established how giving an impact model has evolved away from just that one-to-one. So before we dive into more of the tactical parts about Toms B Corp community, so many different things, can you give us a little lowdown on what it's been like since you were there and how it's evolved in that time?
Amy: Yeah, absolutely. I'm so thrilled to be here with you today. I'm really excited to share a bit of the Toms story and thanks for that question because it's really been quite a journey for Toms. I think most people know that giving is just in the Toms DNA. Our mission is to improve lives. It's been the same since day one, since our founding back in 2008. And so, that's something that's core to who we are. And for 15 years, we gave shoes and sight and clean water one for one. And so when we turned 15, we serendipitously also were getting to the 100 million lives impacted mark. And it was really a moment of reflection for the organization. And the question that I felt obligated to our consumers to always ask is, are we having the greatest impact possible with the unprecedented giving that we do? And if we're even questioning the answer to that, we often would get in a room and kind of rustle through it and think through, well, what else could we be doing around shoe giving? What else could we be doing around sight and water? And we got to the point a couple of years into my tenure with the organization to really just say, we can't answer this question yes any longer. And went down a path of really exploring what might be next for Toms. Where can we innovate? What else should we be doing? We are the original one for one company,we're incredibly proud of that, we're so excited that we got to be a small part of creating this giant movement that is now purpose-driven organizations at all levels, all sizes. And so what we did was sort of go through this reflective process of what have we accomplished? What have we learned? How do we go about thinking about what might be next for us? What are our consumers telling us? How do we think about our value add? Where's their white space? So it was not sort of a just like, let's go do something different. It was very thoughtful because one, we felt like we owed that to our consumers and two, we really are committed to improving lives through selling Toms shoes. And so long, long story short of all of that research and really months and months of testing things and kind of going down some rabbit holes that didn't work out and really thinking through how we can have the greatest impact possible. We reset our model and now we give a third of our profits to grassroots organizations. And I want to unpack that just a tiny bit because a third of our profits really is aligned with what we were doing with shoe giving. So it's the same total amount of giving. So I knew that that was already built into the business model, which was an important part of this change, right? I didn't want to break something in the sustainability of the Toms business. And grassroots organizations are really organizations on the ground, really doing the work. Although they do advocate, they're not advocacy organizations.they're often not the largest organizations. They're organizations where we could take a bit of a risk because we're a privately held company. They needed support to do something new, to leapfrog their program, to hire the first of something. And we really felt like that was white space that we could fill in to help them get that jump start, take the first step, if you will, to move their organization forward. And so that one third of profits for grassroots good is that model of impact that sits underneath it. Today we say, when you buy Toms, you help fund access to mental health resources. And we've chosen that because we believe that and we know that one in eight people in the world face a mental health challenge every single year. We also know that almost half of them don't know where to start. They don't know where to access that first step resources on their mental health journey. And so we felt like this was an opportunity for us. Now it might sound a little like, why is a shoe company who gave one for one now focused on mental health? But there are more connections there the eye on the surface. When we were giving shoes, we learned that a well-fitted activity appropriate, climate appropriate and new shoes boosted the confidence of the individuals we were giving them to, usually kids, but really had a meaningful impact on their mental health. And so we felt like this was an area we could go into. We knew we wanted to work with grassroots organizations. We knew we wanted to support what we could in a way that no one else was right,we really wanted to innovate in this space again. And so that's how we got to this one third of profits. That's how we got to focusing on mental health resources and how we're now learning a ton, working with new organizations. We really wanted to bring something that was closer to home. I think we all, especially over the last, I'm going to say five years now, really have experienced what it might feel like to not be our mental best. Right. And so this also felt like as we were doing all this research before the pandemic and this was already bubbling up for us, it just sort of solidified things for us when so many challenges for everyone's mental health were part of the equation over the last five years or so.
Paul: Amazing. That's quite the evolution. And when did you land on this? When did you kick off the mental health drive?
Amy: Yeah, so it was about three and a half, four years ago, we launched this and announced it, right? And said, we're gonna give a third of our profits to organizations focused on mental health. And we had dipped our toe in this, I don't know folks, some folks may remember when we did a campaign around gun violence here in the United States. And our founder was actually still quite active with us, he is no longer active with us, but still cheering from the sidelines and did a campaign around giving dollars that were generated through our consumers purchases to organizations focused on ending gun violence here in the United States. And that campaign went really well, that was campaign style. We still do give to gun violence organizations here in the US, but our focus is really on mental health now. And so as we were learning, as we were trying different things, as we were going through it, it was sort of a one and a half year window of testing and learning. And then really going all in and committing to that and ending partnerships with shoe giving, right? So we had many, many partners we'd given shoes to for over 15 years. And we obviously wanted to do that with great respect and great support for the organizations. So we didn't have any negative impact on the organizations when we were no longer giving shoes. And we're really proud of that transition as well. We spent over a year transitioning with organizations that we gave shoes to.
Paul: That's huge. And I mean, if you look back at that, initially, when you mentioned their gun violence, that's obviously a highly controversial topic to wade into that, like, it's quite brave. Is that something which any brand can do? Or is that something that, you know, obviously that was founder led at the time, now you're not founder led? Has that made a difference? Can you make those brave decisions still now to get involved in something that not everyone's going to like? In my mind, the best brands are the ones that split opinions, and they are happy to and keen to split opinions. But it's hard to do that often when there's no founder at the rudder of that. So fascinates to know whether that shifted at all.
Amy: Yeah, it's such a great question. I think that any brand can do anything that is truly authentic to them and that they have agency in that topic area. We were not the experts in ending gun violence. Our community was directly impacted, very close to Blake's home, very close to our headquarters office, there was a mass shooting. And his reflection was, if not us, who, and if not now, when? Because the gun violence situation is, I know many people understand, out of control here in the US. And so that pushed us over the edge to say, do we have agency here? Do we have credibility? Can we step into this space with credibility? And we decided only with the right partners. And so we immediately started reaching out to nonprofit organizations that did have the expertise and learning from them as much as we could, as quickly as we could, because they are the experts, we are not. We wanted to create that connection between this issue and our consumer's interest and pair those things. So we wanted to make sure we were the bridge in those communications. We were bringing some of these issues to life.,we were telling people's story in a really respectful way. And so it's a little different than, connecting a shoe to a purchase, right? That impact piece, you really have to be thoughtful about. You really have to say, is this something to us? Can we have credibility? Who should we be partnering with? Those are really important questions to be asking. And you're right, the gun violence issue is quite political here in the United States. And although we do still support it, we felt like a more forward-facing focus area for us was mental health. And in our overall theory of change and our impact work, we have three pillars, actually. We have mental health, we have access to opportunity, and then we have ending gun violence in the United States,and that's where we started. And those also can feel disparate, but they are not, they are very intersectional. We know that if someone has good mental health, they're more likely to be able to get a job or go to school. We know if someone goes to school or has a job, they're less likely to be involved in violence, right? We know if someone has good mental health, they might be less engaged in violence. And so those are the types of things where that intersectionality is really important as you think about how are we going to engage here? What sort of organization should we support? How can we bring the most value to these conversations? And that's really why we've landed in talking most about mental health and how we can all support that.
Paul: I mean, and so gun violence is still one of your pillars at this to this day. It's still sticking there, which I think that sort of shows it, I mean, now that the founder's not there, leading the charge on that, it's often easy to lose these kinds of the stances that brands take and often they go public, they're for water down, a lot of those things. One for one is such a powerful symbol. I think the idea of having, I buy a pair of shoes and I give another pair of shoes to someone else, it feels very direct and you can affect, and you feel like you're affecting an individual transformation. I remember actually buying a pair of your sunglasses and it was like, oh yeah, just, hey, your sunglasses are a pair of Ray-Bans, that's or Oakleys, whatever. So mine is just giving someone the power of sight..That's insane. And I remember it feeling very tangible at the time. Now that you're not doing that, do you feel that you have lost that from a brand perspective? Do many people know that one for one is now no longer a thing first of all? And how has that translated? Because without having that visceral singular effect that you're having on each purchase, you're actually affecting a lot of people. It feels quite different.
Amy: Yeah, it's something that we thought long and hard about, as you can imagine, right? As the original one-for-one company, it wasn't something we took lightly, a couple of things here. One, we believe that the consumer is more savvy than ever, especially this next generation of consumer. They're doing their homework, they want to understand what's happening with an organization, they want to believe in a brand, they want to align their values with their wallet. And so we did feel like the purpose movement and the consumer and their commitment to shopping their values had moved far enough through the process of all of these organizations being more purpose-driven that we could have something, I don't want to say more complicated, but a little more aligned for what was happening in the world today, right? A little more directly related to what might be happening in our consumers' lives. And it could create a little bit more of an emotional connection. And we felt like that trade-off made sense for us. We also believe that the consumer is still giving someone access to mental health services. It's not one-for-one, right? So when you buy a pair of shoes, we give a pair of shoes. But when you buy Toms, you are helping to fund mental health resources, right? And so that's something that we feel like is still that we need to tell the story. We need to make sure we're making those connections. But we still think that you're choosing to buy Toms, right? I just bought my eyewear and it's giving someone sight. I just bought my new, beautiful boots and it's helping someone with their mental health. It feels still very connected and still very special.
Paul: And did it work? I guess that's the kind of the core question of it. And since you've introduced this, it's been a few years in the making. Have you seen a positive effect, a negative effect? It's neutral. Like how has that affected the brands and the commercials of the business?
Amy: Yeah, it's something that we're always monitoring and always trying to learn more about and seeing how the consumer responds to the different stories we bring forward. And it's been quite positive. A lot of people, I was very concerned, as you can imagine, as we announced this, I'm sort of laying in my bed the night before we have quite a few press interviews and I'm saying, oh my God, what have we done? Like, I was very nervous and very scared. And to the letter, everyone we spoke with said, this makes sense. This is the right thing for Toms to do, this is what's next. Thank you for evolving. Thank you for challenging us to think differently once again. And so that felt really good. And I do think the consumer's responding very positively to it. We're all still nostalgic for the day we got to buy a pair of Toms and give a pair to someone in need. But I think that consumers evolved with us, the consumers come with us, new consumers have come on board, and the mental health topic is really relevant for everyone. I sometimes liken it to, everyone knows what it feels like to feel hungry. And so we all have deep empathy for people who are experiencing hunger. I think the same is true now for mental health because of what we've all been through. And so we all know what it feels like to not be our mental best. And so feeling that connection, when you're able to help someone with that, it's really powerful.
Paul: And so what was the trigger point that showed that you needed to evolve from that and you mentioned as that kind of 15 year anniversary, so I'm really interested about how do you know your consumer and how do you speak directly to them to activate them and execute something like this is a big evolution. Was it the consumer that was pointing that like, yeah, okay, we're a bit over this now we want something new or was there something internally that you were like, actually we've got to wear lower shoes. What, how can we have a bigger impact? I'd love to know what made you shift at that point.
Amy: Yeah, it really was that core question of are we having the greatest impact possible with the giving that we do? And we had done a lot of shoe giving. We had actually impacted in a positive way shoelessness in developing countries. In addition, our consumers were saying, hey, seems like there's a more US-based company. There's a lot of issues happening here, there's a lot of things that need support. Can you consider, right? And although we did give shoes in the US, it was a less percentage of our total giving. And so now we give a lot more here in the United States around mental health. And so that was in direct response to consumer feedback, to them saying to us, gosh, there's a lot of stuff going on in our own backyard. As your customers, can you think about what that might look like? So that certainly played a role in our consideration. And then it was, where can we add value? There are so many purpose-driven companies now. And quite honestly, for the business, where can we differentiate again? Where is there white space for us to show up, both from an innovation standpoint, but also from an issue standpoint that clearly needs additional support? So there's a lot of different angles we looked at this decision and how we went about it.
Paul: That's fascinating actually, because you were the OGs when it comes to one for one for sure, unless there was one out there, I certainly don't know about them. That may have been a few that hadn't quite got that psyche level awareness that Toms have internationally actually, not just in the States.
Paul: How would you recommend to brands now? So, you know, it's been done by Toms. Is there space for a one for one model for another brand? And if there is, where do you see that happening?
Amy: Yeah, I think in general, the consumer is demanding most brands to have some sort of purpose and authentic mission connection, right? I think that that's absolutely critical for most companies. I think companies that are trying to back into this, meaning that that hasn't been part of their ethos from day one, quite honestly, they have it harder, right? They have systems, they have processes, they have infrastructure that sets them on a path and it's hard to restructure that. It's not impossible and everyone should think about that and everyone should find an authentic approach to doing this work. Whether that's one for one, whether that's a corporate foundation, whether that's getting your employees out, whether that's lifting up the organizations that you partner with, that has to be authentic to you. And so I do think that some companies skip that step and just sort of either I don't want to say companies do this. It is easy to think, oh, we'll just go with what's hot right now, or we'll just do what's trending, or we'll just throw out this one big thing. I think consumers are looking to brands to be committed over time to something that is authentic to them. They have credibility in or are gaining credibility through the partners that they choose and are consistent with their messaging and their commitments regardless of if it's helping the company make more money. And we all know we are in business to improve lives, but we can't improve lives if we don't sell shoes. And I've never been one to be shy about talking about that. And I think that companies should also say, look, we can do more of X if you do more of Y. And sometimes that's buying something and sometimes it isn't. That's been the Toms model since day one. And so that's our ethos, that's our story. And that's why I take the commitment to having great impact with that consumer's commitment to being part of the Toms community. It's something we take very seriously because they've made a very serious choice to be part of the Toms community. I think there's tons more space for one for one. I think one for one is a really powerful tool and something that we all should be considering as part of our set of tools that we have to choose from when we're making impact in the world.
Paul: Yeah, it makes absolutely sense and it's the whole be caught movement. It isn't people and planet over profit. It's people equals to planet equals to profit. It's that they are on the level setting. There's not one that's more important than the other versus. The standard way that businesses are run, which is profit and everything else doesn't matter. Jumping back to the way that we're thinking of that purpose baked into it and companies are able to do that as a one for one is a great opportunity. One model, you guys moving to 30% of profit, there's no founder there, you're sort of owned by other people. Do you find that that can get squeezed? Because 30% could also be 25%, and it could also be 23%. And gradually it goes on there. How do you,It's very hard to make one for 0.7, It doesn't work. You can know that you're never going to get squeezed in that. So how do you ensure you kind of manage internal stakeholders to ensure that your giving pledge is stuck to particularly in the hard times that a lot of brands are going through at the moment?
Amy: Yeah, such a great question. You make really good friends with the finance team to make sure that whatever you're claiming, you can actually claim over time. So as we looked at evolving from one for one to one third of profits, that's the first conversation I had. How's this baked into the business model? The one third is not made up, it is aligned with what we were doing with shoe giving. So I knew that we already had 15 years of experience doing that. And I wasn't trying to change or evolve that in a way that didn't work for the business overall. And it was meaningful. Right. We're trying to give at a really meaningful level. Now, as the business grows or shrinks, 30 percent is more or less dollars as a total of the business. And so, of course, it has been challenging over the last few years as consumer behavior is all over the place. And we're all trying to figure out what that actually means for our lives, for our businesses, for our communities. I do think that one of the biggest things we also thought about was, as we look at this financially, is it sustainable over time? When a pandemic came, I thought, OK, this is it,like, we're gonna to have to change the model, we're not gonna to be able to give it these levels. And this is where I think it does become more challenging for other companies is we've been committed from day one to this level of giving. And so it wasn't even questioned because I was like, you know, sort of bracing myself for that conversation and trying to figure out how we can get creative and how we can still maintain our commitments to our consumers and to our partners. And we were unwavering in our commitment to that over the long term. You're unwavering in it and I'm very proud of that. And of course, it made some other things more challenging of course, it made other things difficult. But we're committed on the level that it's who we are and I think our employees would not be happy,our consumers would not be happy, our impact team that works so hard with our impact partners would not be happy, it is who Toms is. And so without it, we kind of are just another shoe company. Right. And so it's really important to maintain that.
Paul: Yeah, I could imagine a world where Toms announced that they're no longer going to give and probably wouldn't be around a year later. You know, it's so cool to who you are. But for other brands, it's not necessarily as cool. So not to get too nerdy, but actually, to be fair, this is a pretty nerdy brand building podcast. So I'm going to go there. Like, how do you actually track the revenue back to the impact? Do you do it on a consumer level? Do you run studies? If you're a to bring it back and put yourself in a position of a brand who's like, yeah, great, we're going to give 2% to the planet or one of those types of pledges. And the FD is going in, they're slashing left, right and center the CFO is making all those hard decisions. And that's one of the ones that's getting squeezed, it's squeezed to 1.5 or something like that. How would you turn around and say, no, this is absolutely imperative. If we cut this, it will affect us next year and the year after that exponentially.
Amy: Right. Yeah, with each time, it's a little bit like personally saving money, right? Once you do it, and you kind of do it and forget about it, and it's automatic, you sort of don't question it later, right? It's just, oh, I almost forgot about it, like it's just part of how I live. So we had that on our side, right? But I do think that companies that are trying to navigate really difficult times, you've made a commitment to your consumers. So you have some legal obligation, depending on what you've said, right? So that's one thing that you need to kind of be aware of. Also, you're building brand around the idea of giving back and of being a company that the consumer can count on to give back. One of the things when we were doing some Consumer Insights Research, you know, you asked me earlier, does the consumer even know you're doing this other thing? And they do and we're always building that story and telling them. But Toms has built enough trust with the consumer that they say, I know Toms is going to do good with my money, whatever they decide to do. Right. I trust them as a brand and I think you really put that trust in jeopardy when you start to play with your commitments and you start to adjust them and bring them down. And certainly, I'm not saying that we'll never do that because you never know. I'm not saying that other brands shouldn't do that, because if you're not, if you don't exist, you can't give back. Right. So there is a balancing act that you have to navigate and really figure out how you can maintain a healthy business and still maintain your commitments to your purpose, maintain your commitments to your value, maintain your commitments to your consumers. For me, it starts with building something that's sustainable from the beginning. If you don't have that sustainable approach from the beginning, then it's really tricky to stay committed to that over time. So making sure like when we first looked at this, we did a five year and 10 year analysis on what we thought the growth of the business was going to be. And of course, business is moving so fast, all the time, so many changes, kind of nothing's consistent anymore. Right. It's a bit of a roller coaster ride for all of us. But doing those projections at least gave us some sense of this seems feasible, this seems reasonable,this seems doable. And so before we made any sort of new claims about how we were going to move this forward, and I really wanted it to be sort of that same amount as we gave for shoes, because that felt right. That felt what the consumer expected of us, that we're that percentage that we can do that in a way that was really meaningful.
Paul: Hey, it's me again. This podcast is sponsored by Duel, which is my company actually. Duel is the leading brand advocacy platform used by the top retail consumer brands, including Unilever, Charlotte Tilbury, Elimus, Loop and about 50 more, to manage, measure and scale their advocacy, member, affiliate, creator and brand ambassador operations. The platform offers unparalleled scale for complex brands by automating nine out of 10 of the standard advocacy management activities and allowing them to focus on arming their advocates with the right tools to tell the brand story and drive social commerce. They can grow faster for less. We only work with 15% or so of the brands we speak to, but we try and add value in many other ways, this podcast being one of them. So if you are a brand that's interested in this, maybe a large consumer retail brand, ideally you're doing 20, $30 million as a minimum and you're pretty advanced on social and you need to know what the next stage is, then please get in touch. Email me paul @ dual.tech. That is P-A-U-L at D-U-E-L.T-E-C-H or Google dual.tech. Moving back onto B Corp as a similarity to that, it feels almost for a lot of brands it's table stakes. If you want to exist today and you are an innovative forward thinking brand, you have to be a B Corp. Firstly, do you think that's true? And second of all, do you think that that's enough for most brands? And actually they can fulfill their B Corp obligations and they don't have to have another thing, another reason for being in a one for one style that Toms has.
Amy: Yeah, B Corp was an absolute must for us, right? We felt like it is sort of that good housekeeping seal that somebody else is making sure you're doing what you said you were gonna do, right? And I think that's really important too. Those third party audits, if you will, are a really important part of credibility, which I think is one of the biggest things that B Corp gives you, gives you credibility around what you're doing, why you're doing it, how you're doing it. For us, it gave us a really lovely roadmap for improvement, which I think is another huge value of being B Corp certified. So we knew the next time we get certified, we're gonna go after these 10 things on the rubric, right? And it's complicated and it's time consuming and it's something that you have to take really seriously. But it was such a valuable, it kind of did the work for us from a roadmap perspective, right? We knew we wanted to up our game and some of our environmental score,We get a lot of credit around the environmental piece,We have a lovely product line called Earthwise that about 30% of our line is Earthwise,It has eco-friendly materials. All the information on our website vary transparently what is and what isn't and why. And so that gave us a good roadmap to increase our score.We increased our score by about 25% in our second, about 25 points in our second certification. So we were really excited about that, but that roadmap is really beautiful and so helpful, kind of makes your job a little easier. And then it protects your mission, right? It allows you to say, we're in business to improve lives and B Corp certification, it sits right next to that, right? In Europe, absolutely, I feel like I had the privilege of being there in early July and I was in Amsterdam and I was in London and everywhere I turned to the B Corp certification stamp was on, we were in a restaurant, it was on the menu,we were in an office building, it was on two or three of like the shared office spaces. So really, really powerful across Europe. And we came back and sort of said, you know, we need to lift this up a bit more as well,we need to put this front and center or sit it alongside our purpose. I think as the consumer becomes more and more clear about what it is and how powerful and really how hard it is to become B Corps certified, they're going to add more and more value and more and more prestige to it by recognizing it. The second part of your question was, do I think it's all you need to do? I think it comes as a result of being a purpose-driven brand and knowing the change you want to have in the world. I think to just say, I want to become B Corp certified because I want to become B Corp certified is not as powerful as meaningful or really as compelling as I'm B Corp certified or I was able to become B Corp certified, our organization was able to become B Corp certified because we care about these things, we're doing these things, we're making this difference in the world, we're living our values as employees, as business, and we scored high enough to become B Corp certified and we're committed over the long term. B Corp wants you to increase your score every three years, you're recertified every three years so you're always in continual improvement but it's grounded in that North Star of your purpose, for us that was important. For some consumers I think they're going to see the B Corp certification stamp and that's going to be good enough for them. And so that's really about the fine line between what do you need to do for the business and what do you want to do as a force for good? What do you want to do because it attracts and retrains employees? What do you want to do because that feels right for your business? There's a fine line there.
Paul: How long have you guys been in B Corp?
Amy: We've been B Corp for six years.
Paul: Okay, so you were there before it was cool, right? So you've got the, in that sort of credibility, it's definitely exploded in the past couple of years. Yes. Do you think that there's almost a duty for brands with the awareness level that Toms to actually become the spokespeople for the movement? And is there anything that you think you could do more in that area or what have you been really proud of doing in that?
Amy: Yes, I think we all should be talking about B Corp more. And it's so funny that you say that, because we literally just had a meeting last week, like, sure, B Corp are stamping off it. We really want to pass the mic to our partners, we really want to tell their story, right? And sometimes we spend a lot of time doing that and forget to lift up the things that give us credibility in passing the mic, in telling that partner story. And so we were just talking about, let's get the B Corp stamp into our brand guidelines. Where do we use it? When do we not use it? How do we use it? Where should it show up? Where should it not show up? In what context? How big, right? So all of that being a bit tactical about that B Corp stamp's not even in our brand book today,so that was one thing. And then, yes, I think we all have an obligation to lift up the movement and to really help. If B Corp grows, more people know about it, the more valuable it becomes to all of us that have become B Corp certified. So how we do that, we brainstorm a lot of different things that we're still trying to get off the ground. Can we do a gift guide with other B Corp organizations and really target the consumer that wants to do their holiday shopping with responsible organizations? Let's curate that for them, let's make that easy for them. Can we tell stories together are a couple of different B Corp organizations funding the same partner? And can we come together and tell their story together? So there's a lot of ways I think we can do that creatively. When there's a lot of people involved and you have to collaborate, it's more work. It's complicated, right? But I absolutely think it's worth it and something that we've been exploring new ways of doing. And just really making sure that we're lifting up the value of that seal and that mark. For our brand and for others.
Paul: Yeah, I think that's the power of it, isn't it? Like it's kind of reaching a tipping point in the UK anyway. I don't feel like it's the same in the US, but people are starting to look for B Corp as they purchase in a similar way. The fair trade movement was so successful. But I think there's still an awareness issue,like this is what B Corp means,this is what they had to go through to get through this process. I think that we all as B Corp owners, I mean, my business is on the B2B side, but we're still a B Corp and you guys on the B2C side, we need to do more of it. Talking about it in our side, like we should be kind of pitching why it's important to work with suppliers who are B Corps, you know, like in fact, actually at the very heart of it is our purpose as a business is to show that there's a better future around this idea of advocacy. Because if you care about people, then actually you take a long term approach and at least to word of mouth, which is free and exponential and so much better than short term, it's just screwing everyone over to your customers. And actually that at the heart of your purpose, it's quite easy to forget that and just say, well, here's the features, this is why you should buy our thing rather than here's why we exist. And I'm taking a lot off from this conversation, it's just like, that's where we should start every conversation, it's like, this is why we exist. Here is a stamp that shows it, but there's more to it than that. And then kind of going on to the next level.
Amy: Absolutely. I think that's so right. The employee piece is really important, right? Bringing all that, all of that together. And our employees are calling on us now saying, are we using other B Corp certified vendors? Why not? Right. So they're challenging us. I was like, yeah, you just said it, right? I'm like, that's a great idea,we need to be thinking about that as we have grown our DEIA work, right. And then we have the anti-racism work like we now have a vendor form where we're looking at their composition as an organization. And are we working together to become more inclusive and more anti-racist? And so those are the types of things that I think we all need to be thinking about as we hire a photographer, as we engage with the manufacturer,as we, it's harder, but it's better. And I think the consumer is rewarding organizations that are choosing this path.
Paul: Yeah,and then it comes full circle. So talking of the employee piece, that employee wellness and well being and actually for employee attraction, that B Corp stamp, if you're hiring Gen Z's now is one of the biggest things that we've seen anyway, that's driving people to go, well, I could go and get a job at Salesforce or Oracle and yeah, they're probably going to pay you a bunch more money than we're going to do it. But actually there's something a bit more meaning here that you actually can use it as a proxy. It says, we've got this here and people will make that decision because actually they see the role now for more than it. So, and then getting the best talent is what builds the best business. And so there's so many benefits that brands can have on it. Yeah, obviously we're both probably singing from the same song sheet on that. Are you doing anything about engaging with your employees at the moment around how you can activate them as ambassadors for the purpose driven work you're doing?
Amy: Yeah, as you can imagine, people want to work at purpose driven organizations. And I'm sure you experienced this as well being held accountable to what that actually means for your experience as an employee. And so we've been committed to that for a very long time. When we gave shoes, we did giving trip,. which were funded by Toms International, five to seven, sometimes 10 day trips, where we would go to and with our impact partners and give shoes directly. And so it was an incredible experience, I got to go to some of the most beautiful places in the world, was meeting some of the most beautiful people who were experiencing poverty that most of us will never experience or see, even see. And so firsthand got to say, you work at Toms, you're making this happen in someone's life very directly. The pandemic, of course, took all that away. And so we're rebuilding, what does an employee experience look like? How do we get our employees out into the field with our impact partners to learn directly from them? How do we bring that to the surface and really allow them the opportunity to engage with those partners firsthand so that they have their own story, their own emotional connection to the work that the impact team is driving every day? So that's one area, we're so excited. We've started to get out in community a bit more, we also have been bringing impact partners into our offices, we call them Toms Talks, and they come into the office. And we're only in a couple of days a week still, but when we're able to bring somebody in, we've got a packed house, right? Everybody comes to learn from our impact partners. Sometimes we'll do a helping happy hour, right? And so we'll do something for an impact partner or for their recipients in our offices. So they might write cards or arrange flowers or backpacks, do those sorts of physical activities in our offices that then get delivered to a partner that's focused on mental health. So we've done sort of mental health first aid kits for an organization that we support that has an LGBTQ plus leadership camp. And so those are the types of things that we get to really do and our employees really appreciate it. The one last example I wanna provide is really special. I talked a little bit about our DEIA efforts and our diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism work is something that, quite frankly, we didn't have a strong enough program. And over the past couple of years, and in the heart of the pandemic, there were a lot of things that happened that opened our eyes to the fact that we weren't doing enough. And so we now have a committee that is ongoingly bringing activities and learnings to our employee base. And we give one full day a year, we call it our Anti-Racism Day of Learning, where every employee engages and we have speakers come in, we might view a film together and have a discussion group, we might read a book and talk about it, we do a full day of programming around all of us learning more about becoming anti-racist. And it's been a really powerful addition to who we are and what we do as an organization. So always trying to bring lots of little bits and pieces to make that employee experience really aligned with our values and really show them that they are also in business to improve lives.
Paul: Presumably you've got thousands of store associates in stores scattered around the world. And do you do anything? In the stores that's in line with this, that, you know, if you take, for example, Lululemon, you know, their thing is wellbeing and they have free yoga classes in the stores. Is there any way that you activate this venue? Because always fascinated by this evolution as everything's going online and there's the direct to consumer sales that happening there, stores are becoming more of an experience based place. Is there something you're doing that other brands could learn from that's in line with the mission?
Amy: Yeah, we don't have any Toms retail any longer directly. So those community spaces are when you have full control over them, it's much easier. I love that Lululemon hosts a yoga class in store makes total sense. Everything aligns right wellness, the type of product they sell, the fact that they're bringing community together like that is really beautiful. So we do work with some of our wholesale partners around the globe to bring the Toms talk into the store and really allow people to come and experience one of our impact partners or talk with them. We do giving Tuesday every year, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And we have shared our story of what we're doing with our employees and encourage them to go out in their communities. We're trying to build to the place where we're inviting our customers to come with us for giving Tuesday. We have 100 percent participation on the employee side, but we would love to grow that to something even bigger and have consumers come out with us, with the employee base to give back into community on on giving Tuesday,so I agree with you. The online only world makes it tough. We're trying to be creative for mental health awareness month this year. We had 31 days of tips and tricks to support your or someone else who care about mental health. And it was called wear good, share good and you've got 31 days of tips, a pack for yourself and then a pack to share with other people that are in your lives where you might just give them the tip that they need on that day, whether you actually know it or not. So really trying to find ways for people to activate together, but in the virtual world, and come back and share those stories on social, and really use that space to lift up our partners and to lift up our commitment to mental health.
Paul: I love that because you're able to actually engage with the well-being of your customers in this scenario. Because if you can't afford shoes, you're probably not buying a pair of Toms in the previous model. So I like that there's a slight coverage there. Just moving away from Toms very quickly for my last question is just, who do you think is doing really well at this at the moment? Who are you looking to for inspiration for brands that are making purpose front and center and are subsequently making a lot of money for themselves and a lot of money for their target audience? Yeah. Making a lot of money for their purpose?
Amy: Yeah. Yeah. There are so many brands out there doing so many amazing things. So I try to keep up with lots of them. I'm always inspired by Ben and Jerry's because they are really focused on social justice and they, I think you said at the top, like taking on something that is a bit controversial, that is something Ben and Jerry's has never shied away from. And I think they do it in a really compelling way. We've talked to them a couple different times, I actually got to meet Ben and Jerry, it was very cool, so fun, they're fantastic gentlemen. And so that the way they.
Paul: Whoa,whoa,whoa,whoa.Hang on a second. We need to go back into that. Please, please tell me the story of what are they like? What do they look like? What did you talk about?
Amy: They are very committed in the gun violence space as well and working on a lot of social justice issues. And so we were just actually, we were on Zoom, so I didn't actually get to see them in 3D, but lovely gentlemen that have been so committed to social justice for so long and really just exploring how they can partner with other brands. We were exploring on how we can learn from them, taking on a tough topic and having that still be okay for your consumer base, not alienating folks, yet still standing up for what you believe in. And so just really having the opportunity to swap some notes with them and explore potential partnership. So that's how we came together. But they're doing really incredible things, I think Lush, the beauty brand, is doing some really special things on the environmental front. They seem to be just always innovating in that space. So two of many that I am really impressed by, I will say that a lot of my inspiration comes from our impact partners. The work that they are doing on the ground is so inspiring. They are usually smaller organizations that are trying to do great things,so just a quick example. Thanks for letting me share this because it's so, I feel like I want more people to have these experiences that I have the privilege of having. And so we fund a small organization called The Dinner Party and they're growing quickly. And The Dinner Party was founded by a woman who lost her father in her thirties and found that the grief support systems were very focused on very young and very old and that she tried both and neither really met her needs. And so she started literally a dinner party that brought together individuals of similar age that have lost someone that was very, very close to them, whether that be a parent or a dear friend or a spouse, and really just provided space for them to share a meal and to grieve together. And this really simple idea has grown and grown and grown. There are thousands of dinner tables across the U.S. They're growing internationally, all from this one person's experience and a passion for not letting that bad experience happen to other people. And so we've been able to help them fund and grow additional dinner parties in additional communities in the United States to really focus that grassroots effort around better mental health. So Carla's a huge inspiration, The organization is doing great things. And that's just one of 10 or 15 examples of organizations that we get to partner with every day and learn from and be inspired by.
Paul: That sounds amazing. And we'll pop a link in the show notes as well for anyone who wants to check that one out. Finally, what's next for you? What's next for Toms? Anything on the horizon that is really exciting you.
Amy: Yeah, we're doubling down here. We're really focused on making sure that we really get to know our consumer. We believe that she is somebody that we're mostly a female brand, but we think the guys out there doing the same thing,that she cares what she looks like when she walks out the door every day, and that she lives her values. We call her the compassionista. And for a long time, I think we felt like the person who wants to look great and be on trend and the person who cares were two different people. And I sort of called BS on that a year ago and said, no, I don't think they're different. I think they're the same, I think there's a lot of her out there, let's speak to her directly, let's engage with her. And so we're working really hard to get to know her better and better and to bring her exactly what she wants from our beautiful products to the impact that we're having to the story that we're telling about both. And so that's a real big focus for us right now. Of course, making sure that we are lifting up mental health awareness month. It's global mental health day in October. We want to tell that story and really get our consumers and our supporters real, tangible, meaningful, actionable ways to engage and to reflect in these moments so that they can say, maybe I do need a mental health resource. What can I learn here? How do I access a resource? How do I learn more about this? How do I connect with a friend to maybe I proceed to be struggling in some way? So those are the types of things that we're really gonna be leaning into, aligning this beautiful product with this incredible impact and making sure the consumer understands the power they have and the great things they're doing when they choose Tom. So it really is doubling down on where we're at, we have beautiful products coming out for the fall, we have great stories to tell around Global Mental Health Day and Suicide Prevention Week. And we're just gonna keep doing more and more of that and bringing both pieces of this to our consumer in what we hope is a really powerful and emotionally connected way.
Paul: So do you think that Toms going to be a mental health retail brand? Is that the future for it? So in the same way that no one can think of previously, you can think of Toms without thinking one for one, is the future for Toms mental health? You're going to align them so closely together to have that reaction and understanding.
Amy: Yeah, I think so. I think it's really important to be clear about what you're focused on and make sure that you are having the greatest impact there. And those other pillars of our strategy, they're there, they're in the background, but they're intertwined with this mental health story and with our commitment to doing what we can. Again, our focus is for mental health resources, our focus is grassroots. So I think there's plenty of space for other brands to advocate for mental health, to work with larger organizations, to, right, there's a lot of other space here, but I hope that we are known for beautiful product and we are known for mental health. And we are known for when you buy Toms, you help someone else with their mental health.
Paul: Are we going to see that iconic logo change from one for one to one for mental health or something like that?
Amy: Well, so we do have a new tagline, obviously, one for one. It was no longer relevant. So we've actually evolved our tagline to wear good. W-E-A-R, and it's a little plan words, I'm okay if you heard we're good. And it's really grounded in still creating that connection between your purchase and something great happening in the world. We want you to feel good, we think our products feel good on your feet, we think they're comfortable, we think they're stylish. we think you feel good when you decide to purchase Toms. We know that we're doing good when you purchase Toms. And so this idea of wearing good is something that we want everyone on the planet to want to do and to actually go out and buy a pair of Toms and know that they are wearing good.
Paul: Cool. Well, I'm excited for the evolution of it. Amy, thank you so much for your time. This has been fascinating. I learned so much from this. We'll connect people to all of the things we talked about in the show notes. If anyone wants to find you, where can they find you?
Amy: You can see me anytime on amy.smith at Toms.com. I'm so simple, a Y on the A and an I on the Smith. So it's very, very easy to get a hold of me. I love to hear from people. I love to hear feedback, ideas, suggestions. We really try to be an open book and learn from anyone and everyone who's interested in this space. We have a lot of work to do collectively. So anytime.
Paul: Amazing. Thanks a lot and have a great day in the fog.
Amy: Thank you. You too in the sun.
Paul: That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about building brand advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our brand building codebook, then make sure to search for building brand advocacy in Apple podcasts, Spotify and Google podcasts, or anywhere else the podcasts are fine. And make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Thanks to Jule for sponsoring. To find out more, go to www.duel.tech, that's D-U-E-L dot T-E-C-H. And on behalf of the team here at building brand advocacy, thanks for listening.
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