TOMS Campus Club and Coalition will host TOMS shoes’ Style Your Sole Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly students might remember the event from previous years when it was held on Dexter Lawn or at the University Union. This year, the event is expected to draw more interest due to a number of local artists who have volunteered their services to paint shoes at no additional charge.
Coalition owner Stephanie Hicks, who will host the event in her store on Monterey Street, has taken part in similar community outreach programs before, and said working with TOMS shoes is advantageous on many levels.
“First and foremost, it’s fun,” Hicks said. “It’s a good way to get out and do something. Second of all, I think it’s a really great brand to support because they’re doing more than just selling a pair of shoes; they’re actually giving back to the world. Lastly, since it is the holiday season, it’s just something unique that you can get for somebody as a gift.”
With Christmas right around the corner, a $44 pair of TOMS Classic Canvas Slip-Ons makes for a relatively cheap present. Also, the fact that they were painted by a Central Coast artist and cannot be duplicated has the potential to score some brownie points with whoever receives them.
“Once you walk out of the Style Your Sole event, you basically have a one-of-a-kind pair of TOMS,” Hicks said.
In the past, TOMS Campus Club provided the shoes the day of the event and had an assortment of art supplies so attendees could design the shoes themselves. This year, Coalition, the only supplier of TOMS shoes in downtown San Luis Obispo, will act as the liaison between the company and the club.
Hicks said she is more than happy to work with TOMS shoes and alleviate some of the responsibilities the club had to deal with in the past.
“It’s a little bit more of a hassle for the campus club because they actually have to sell the shoes and collect the money,” Hicks said. “We’ve just always had a really good working relationship with the campus club, so it was easy. I guarantee them that I buy the shoes, they try to sell them for the event and I keep whatever they didn’t sell.”
TOMS Campus Club President Jeneeka Perera has been working to keep the club alive after it experienced an inconsistent interest from Cal Poly students since it began in 2009. The club is responsible for spreading the company’s message.
“One of the basic points of campus club is the One for One movement: For every pair of shoes (sold), they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need,” Perera said. “What we do is organize events to get the campus aware of the story so they can spread the word to other people as well.”
For those who are interested in learning more about what the TOMS Campus Club does, Perera said they are always looking for motivated students to become involved.
“It’s two parts,” Perera said. “One part is community service because the whole company is based on philanthropy. The other part is brainstorming, organizing and marketing events to put on for the campus.”
Perera has taken part in Style Your Sole events before and is looking forward to it this year in hopes that it provides the campus club with some publicity.
Although Style Your Sole is an international event that has been held on hundreds of other college campuses, San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly are part of the lucky few who have professional artists at the event.
Dan Woehrle (a.k.a. Stenzskull), Ryan Preciado ( a.k.a. Pablo), owner of Sink or Swim Tattoo Garry Ellsworth and owner of San Luis Art Supply Neal Bretton will be on hand to paint as many shoes as they can in three hours.
“This was the first year that I was asked to do it, and I’m really excited about it,” Breton said. “I always enjoy working with different groups from Cal Poly.”
Each artist will have an example of their work on hand so attendees can get a sense of which artist best fits their style. The artists will spend a few minutes talking to each customer to come up with an idea of what they want, and have approximately 15 minutes to paint each pair of shoes.
“I tend to draw really quirky, weird things,” Breton said. “I love dichotomies in art, so when I’ll draw a cartoon character — that cartoon character, most likely, is going to be set in a very awkward or sad situation. That’s just the nature of my art.”
Style Your Sole is a meaningful event for all those involved, and Breton said it has a lot more significance than simply buying a pair of shoes.
“Something bigger than yourself always makes you feel good, and having a good time while you do it — it’s a win-win,” Breton said.
Why can’t people just donate money in order to feel good about themselves? The whole TOMS idea is so pretentious.
For the price of one pair of toms, you could donate enough to send at least 5 pairs to another country… slacktivism at its best
Or you could help homeless people in THIS country instead of sending all kinds of “aid” to other countries where people expect hand outs instead of doing something to actually help them help themselves.
If TOMS REALLY wanted to help Africa, they would have built a factory there, in that country, so that people there would be able to be employed, and work to better their lives. Handing out shoes is a band aid fix to a much larger problem.
Why isn’t TOM’s doing something to help kids in this nation that are shoe less? Why aren’t they donating to schools here that need the help?
This is just another way for people to use consumerism and feel like they’re making a difference when in reality, they’re not. It’s like all those “breast cancer” awareness products. Buying stuff so that 1% of the cost can go towards a fundraiser isn’t really helping anything.
Right on Melissa. I think you’re looking at the bigger picture.
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