Product design is an essential component to making the world a better place. How? Good products solve consumer problems and like TOMS, can inspire others, particular within fashion trends. But more so, good design and material choice have significant impact on the environment and people working within the supply chain that produces it. A simple product like a shoe can affect a factory of hundreds of people. Even minute details like how a package glues together, and how fast it needs to be made can make the difference on whether a worker’s hands become sore and bruised while constructing it on a factory line. Creative design and conscious business decisions can both create wealth for the many hands that bring a product into being while bringing function and beauty and inspiration to consumers.
JLee and I actually met while both working at TOMS. The running joke was that the shoes given away were much more robust than the more casual fashion-statement Argentinian alpargatas sold. Kids in Ethiopia running around simply wore out their only pair of shoes much faster than the New York socialites who owned dozens. So TOMS created a new shoe, and worked with a local Ethiopian factory for production to help create jobs. We think that’s a pretty nifty solution to serving consumers to what they actually care about, and solving the real social problem on the ground.