Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Giveaway That Matters

Several weeks ago, I saw something that really piqued my curiosity.
The shoe company, TOMS, was looking for people to participate in their "Books For Bloggers" program.
I read up on it.  I applied.
I was contacted that I was selected for the program!

So, what's the deal?

As a books for blogger participant, I'm being asked to help spread the
"Start Something That Matters" movement:
*by reading the book of the same title, written by TOMS Founder and Chief Shoe Giver, Blake Mycoskie, sent to me for free by the company
*by writing a review of the book on the book's Amazon page {see my review here}
*by posting a review of the book on my blog
*by hosting a contest on my blog to give away the second copy of this book that I received from TOMS

Included were two copies of this book!
While I received the book back in November, I actually wasn't able to really delve into it until more recently.  Between life, our daily issues with Peyton and the holidays, it's been a little hectic!

I finished the book last night and I have to say, it was an amazing read.
My husband, Ron, also finished reading it yesterday and I believe we're of the same mind when it comes to this book!

If you aren't familiar with TOMS, I would strongly suggest you read up on their
One For One Movement.
A couple years ago, I didn't know TOMS existed.  I wish I had!
When we started going to our church, I noticed a lot of the "hip" people, particularly on our worship team, were wearing these cool looking shoes, which I later identified as TOMS.  Still, I just thought they were neat shoes but didn't know anything about the company.  Then I started noticing the shoes more and more, so I just had to look them up online.  That is when I found out that TOMS isn't just a company selling shoes.  They are a company selling shoes and hope.  You see, for every pair of shoes sold, a child in need in a developing country will receive a pair!  
Well, that had me sold.  From then forward, I wanted a pair.  Badly.
But, with life and dealing with Peyton's medical issues, the last thing we could afford was a new pair of shoes.  The financial strains of the five and a half years of life with a special needs and medically fragile child have meant very few new items of clothing for us.  The kids, yes.  Us parents, not so much.

Back to the book.

"Start Something That Matters" was written by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS.  The vision for TOMS grew out of a visit to Argentina where he met an American woman doing a shoe drive there.  He learned about the serious lack of shoes for children.  He learned about this issue and studied the effects of going without such a basic necessity as shoes.  He was able to use his entrepreneurial skills and translate this vision into a unique business concept that is the TOMS One For One movement.

"Start Something That Matters" talks about the history of TOMS.  It also discusses how many other businesses got their start with a simple idea.  A desire to market household cleaning products that were safer was behind the method brand of products.  A personal health issue became the driving force behind the creation of a cookbook designed to help others lower cholesterol.  Overcoming personal fears and obstacles along the way, the author went on to sell over a million copies of Butter Busters.  The author - Pam Mycoskie, Blake's mom.

The book drives home the fact that anyone with an idea can move forward to make their dream a reality.  One doesn't have to be a multi-millionaire with thousands of connections to start something that matters.

In a chapter called "Face Your Fears", the concept of kaizen is brought up.  This is a Japanese concept  "which says that small improvements made every day will lead to massive improvement overall." (p 62)  Friends, does this not sound like something I have talked about many times on my blog - the concept of 1% changes?  This is a concept I picked up from another blogger which is basically the concept of making personal changes in tiny increments which, over time, will lead to a more fulfilling life.

Take your concept.  Your vision.  Start small and tweak it a little bit at a time until you have what you're looking to offer.

Key concepts in this book include keeping things simple, being resourceful when resources are lacking, building trust {a very important concept!}, and the concept of giving as good business practice.

Remember, TOMS is a for-profit company.  It's not a charitable organization.  BUT, they are employing a unique business practice in their One For One movement which means that when customers buy a pair of shoes, someone else will receive a pair of shoes who might not otherwise have a pair.  How's that for business?  Thousands of pairs of shoes have been donated because consumers like this concept.  After reading this book, I want to replace all my shoes with TOMS!  As a potential customer, I like knowing that someone somewhere is benefiting from my purchase in a tangible way.

As for me, I have a couple visions in my mind.

I am already participating in something which you can be a part of!

Since November, I have been running a fundraiser in my Etsy shop for my friend who is in the process of an international adoption.  For every hand knit reusable coffee sleeve you purchase for $4, I will donate $3 to Jessica's fund!  I have already sent her $27.  I owe her an additional $6.  And I have an order of 5 sleeves coming up, so that will be an additional $15 for her fund.  I had also donated 13 coffee sleeves to her to sell on her own, where she got to keep all of the money.

Why did I start this??

Because, quite honestly, in one of my Seacoast Sisterhood morning meetings, I just felt God tugging on my heart to do something to help her with this fundraising process.  I know I don't have an extra $20K or more laying around.  Heck, I don't even have an extra $20!!  But I can knit, and I can sell these items and give her the proceeds.  Trust me, I'm not inflating my prices so I make a nice tidy profit.  Quite the opposite.  I do it because it's the right thing to do.  I do it because it matters.  You can help too by heading to my shop to buy a coffee sleeve!

My other vision might sound a little familiar.  
I really want to write a book.
A real, honest to goodness book that would be sold to real people.
I have been told many times by family, friends, and blog readers that I should and could write a book.
I have been through so much in my 39 years -
infant loss through stillbirth and miscarriage, nearly losing my own life 3 times due to  pregancy-related health issues, life with a special needs child who is also medically fragile {and raising her older sibling at the same time}
I would love to be an encouragement to others.
That is one of the main reasons for my blog - to encourage and maybe be a blessing to someone somewhere.  I figure if even one person has benefited from something I have written, then it is worth it.
But I would love to reach a broader audience too.
Through this blog
and maybe even through printed media...a book.
But I have fears.
No resources.
Things that might prevent me from moving forward.

After reading "Start Something That Matters," I am encouraged.  I still don't know where to begin or how best to formulate a plan.  I'd love some advice there, Mr. Mycoskie!!  But I feel like, hey, maybe this is something I could do.  That is why I shared the example of his mom's book.  It resonated with me.

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  My husband read it and he really enjoyed it as well.
Both of us feel a sense of encouragement from having read this book.

You can find out more about "Start Something That Matters" here.

To Blake Mycoskie {if you actually happen to read this!} - Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in TOMS Books For Bloggers program.  Thank you for allowing me to share the Start Something That Matters movement with my family and friends here on my blog.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to physically share your story with a lucky blog reader {scroll down, friends, for giveaway details!}.  Thank you for the encouragement and the inspiration to Start Something That Matters in my own life.

Remember how I never had a pair of TOMS before??
That's changed now!

Ash Canvas Classics were from my mother in law for Christmas.  My first pair of TOMS!

Hand Drawn Dots Metallic Women's Vegan Classics were purchased the day after Christmas with money left over from my birthday in November and money received at Christmas!

TOMS mission is right there in the sole of every pair!
My 7 year old daughter knows the mission of TOMS and even she wanted to get in on the action!
Moira's Classic Grey Tie Dye youth TOMS she purchased with her Christmas money!

Our Christmas TOMS collection - 0 to 3 pairs in 2 days!
And don't be thinking we left Peyton out. We have a pair of these pink wool Tiny TOMS botas on order for her!

Source: toms.com via Sarah on Pinterest

And now for the giveaway part of this "Books For Bloggers" deal.
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to complete the mandatory entries and then go on to complete as many as the additional entries as you like.  There are lots of ways to enter!  I will announce the winner in a week!

Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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