Focus on the Family | News

TOMS Founder Explains Focus On The Family Appearance

BlakeTOMS Blake Mycoskie, founder of the wildly popular TOMS Shoes, came under scrutiny late this week, when anti-gay group Focus on the Family announced that he had spoken at one of their events.

Following a barrage of criticism, Mycoskie has issued a statement insisting that he does not approve of the organization's politics and feels they misrepresented his appearance as a partnership.


Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.

Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.

So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud.

This means, of course, that readers can still rock their TOMS without feeling like sell-outs.

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  1. How very nice - well said and you have to hand the man and the organization a round of applause for stepping forward so quickly. My appreciation for TOMS grows stronger.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Jul 9, 2011 6:17:46 PM

  2. Talk is cheap, and to apologize without making amends is even cheaper. I don't care what you meant to do; I care about your irresponsible behavior.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jul 9, 2011 6:19:27 PM

  3. Um, Mr. Mycoskie, unless you've been living in a cave for the last 20 years, it rather stretches the imagination to think you wouldn't know what Focus on the Family was all about. If you didn't know then your employees should have by vetting the organization. I agree with Bryan. Talk is cheap. You've already done the damage. You need to come up with something better than "Oops, I didn't know what they were about!" At worst you're a liar, at best the people who work for you that set this up are seriously stupid.

    Posted by: Brad | Jul 9, 2011 6:27:11 PM

  4. what's Toms shoes? (i thought Toms was a toothpaste maker from Maine???)

    Posted by: Oliver | Jul 9, 2011 6:38:34 PM

  5. While I appreciate his words it's telling to me that no one at TOMS knew anything (or took the time to find out) about Focus on the Family's divisive politics previous to his speaking engagement.

    For a company which prides themselves on their humanitarian work I'm honestly surprised no one there knew about Focus on the Family -- or did they? Hopefully they learn from this mistake.


    Posted by: robertmalcolm | Jul 9, 2011 6:43:52 PM

  6. how could they not know that focus on the family is anti-women, anti-choice, anti-gay etc

    they have only been around espousing such for decades now

    BS on his apology, he is sorry they got busted for it not doing it

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv | Jul 9, 2011 6:48:31 PM

  7. The cornerstone of Focus on Family's existence is anti-gay extremism. I'm with Brad -- major idiocy at work here, or worse. The man has not made amends; he did not even mention the LGBT community in his "aopology" and instead went with the "equal rights for all" dodge. And he had to be called out, first. Good reasons to avoid this product. You can tell them what you think here: .

    Posted by: Joe H | Jul 9, 2011 6:51:02 PM

  8. It does sort of strain credibility that someone could deal with FOTF and NOT know that homophobia is a major part of who they are, if not their primary purpose. If you don't know it, a minute on Google will fill you in.

    "What? You mean the Aryan Nation isn't just a club for blonds?!"

    Posted by: Codswallop | Jul 9, 2011 6:54:23 PM

  9. Never bought TOM's shoes, now I never will...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Jul 9, 2011 6:56:54 PM

  10. appropriate next steps would be to post a video of his speech / presentation. following that, his organization need to recruit a more conscious 'booker'. or someone who is familiar with the google.

    Posted by: my2cents | Jul 9, 2011 7:01:29 PM

  11. Ideological purity must be maintained at all costs.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Jul 9, 2011 7:17:02 PM

  12. This reeks of BS! The name of the organization is Focus On The Family...there's clue number one, a quick goggle search could have come up with loads of info, total fail. He came out so quickly because it got out, and he knows gay men buy lots more shoes then most straight men. EPIC FAIL! Don't believe a word of it!

    Posted by: The Iron Orchard | Jul 9, 2011 7:19:30 PM

  13. I'll be charitable and say this is "wilful negligence" - the corp wouldn't have needed to hire a private investigator to do basic due diligence; their message of hate is broadcast with bullhorns. If they can agree to be associated with this hate group, what's to prevent them from incompetently agreeing to speak at the next KKK rally or going to Uganda to support Kill the Gays? FAIL

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Jul 9, 2011 7:21:17 PM

  14. Looks like the name fooled whoever was responsible for setting this up. Of course, that's exactly why these anti-gay organizations pick those names. Focus on the Family, American Family Association, etc., sound pleasant to those that aren't aware.

    Posted by: Mark (different one) | Jul 9, 2011 7:36:28 PM

  15. yeah, sorry, not buying it, literally or figuratively. First, if this guy is really as socially conscious as he wants to make us think, (and yes the idea of shoes for kids is a great one), he should know who the progressive vs. regressive groups are. God knows I do and I'm not running a business for chrissakes. Second, put your money where your mouth is. Make a contribution (it doesn't have to be financial) to a GLBT youth organization, or women's group, or something. Until then, you lost a customer and I won't be speaking well of your product.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 9, 2011 7:58:55 PM

  16. 'Oh, Diogenes!
    Find a man who's honest!
    Oh, Diogenes!
    Wrap him up for me
    Oh, Diogenes!
    Find a man who's stolid-solid
    Hook that fish if he's in the sea
    Hunt him! Trail him!
    Catch him! Nail him!
    If he is free
    Have you got your stick?
    Have you got your lantern?
    Can you do the trick
    And produce him, please!
    Catch that fellow!
    Ring that bell,
    Oh, Diogenes!"

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 9, 2011 8:20:27 PM

  17. Seriously guys? The guy apologized without any 'qualifiers' and said they screwed up. If I wasn't gay, I'd have no clue who the f'n FOF was.We were already pissed at him for doing it, now he has alienated the conservative crowd by apologizing for it. At best he breaks even and some people will never forgive him. I'd prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt

    Posted by: Wayne in San Diego | Jul 9, 2011 8:27:00 PM

  18. Regardless of whether TOMS apologized or not....they are idiots to not have looked into who they spend their time with.

    Posted by: Corey Mondello | Jul 9, 2011 8:33:06 PM

  19. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on an oversight of who they were associating with in terms of FOF. And the apology does seem contrite. With that said, that shows complete irresponsibility and ignorance to not know the history of the organizations you allow speak at your events. So on that alone, the criticism TOMS gets is legitimate.

    With that said, I agree that a contribution to a group these bigots speak ill off would be a good way to make amends.

    Posted by: Francis | Jul 9, 2011 8:43:34 PM

  20. What? You mean the Nazis were the BAD guys? Really? Well, I just had NO idea! Why doesn't somebody tell me these things?

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jul 9, 2011 8:45:34 PM

  21. I find it difficult to believe that Blake Mycoskie would not know about Focus On The Family's virulent anti-gay agenda. Hello, were have you been, Blake? Surely you have a computer - you only need to do a Google search to see what this organization is all about.

    The whole thing has a "caught red-handed" look about it. Looks like I'll have re-consider any future TOMS shoes purchases.

    Posted by: adam | Jul 9, 2011 8:49:36 PM


    Posted by: alan brickman | Jul 9, 2011 8:59:44 PM

  23. And you can't tell me that all of the hoops the company would jump through to make sure a presenting engagement went off without a hitch, all the people who's time and energy and blood sweat and tears went into making it happen, plus his own "assured" company stance of equality and inclusion for all, that no one, at any point, thought to even Google Focus on the Family to find out about the organization their company would be speaking for.

    Give me a break. Corporations, even small ones, don't work that way. You always know the people you are presenting to. Otherwise, how are you going to give them what they want?

    Not that I purchase the TOM's products anyway, but I certainly won't be in the future.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jul 9, 2011 9:41:25 PM

  24. To be perfectly fair, if you were to ask the people in my life, only about ten percent would know who FOTF is. And that's with people ranging from nie to eighty living all across the US and who have various political and religious views. Not saying he should not have known, but it's really not commonly held knowledge. Hell, you wouldn't believe how many peole don't know who NOM is!

    Posted by: TDSE | Jul 9, 2011 9:58:52 PM

  25. 1) Never even heard of TOMS shoes until tonight. Thought Toms was toothpaste.

    2) This TOMS guy is full of BS. I did a 20 second Google search and it clearly reveals as search result #3 "Why Focus On The Family is of the Devil: A Christian perspective"

    Posted by: Ian | Jul 9, 2011 10:02:42 PM

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