Good for the Sole

Camas teen organizes 'Style-Your-Sole' event

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Amanda Rutter, a student at Camas High School, chose to research and promote TOMS Shoes for her senior project. The five-year old company distributes shoes to children in 23 countries. "Companies like TOMS give me faith in the fashion industry," Rutter said. "Instead of selling average products for double or triple the money they're worth and making a ton of profit for themselves, TOMS' whole company purpose is to give shoes to people and not cheap factory made ones, but high quality, long lasting, durable shoes."

A Camas High School senior has been inspired by a business that gives away a pair of shoes for every pair it sells.

As part of her senior project, Amanda Rutter has been taking orders for TOMS Shoes.

The company was created in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, after he traveled to Argentina and noticed children without shoes to protect their feet. Later that year, he returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff, as well as 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers. As of September 2010, TOMS has given more than one million pairs of new shoes to children in need.

TOMS Shoes are distributed in 23 countries, including Haiti, Peru, Zambia, Rwanda, Mongolia and the United States.

In Cambodia, the shoes protect children against cuts, injuries and infections caused by metal, shards of glass, chemical waste and sewage. Shoes distributed in Ethiopia prevent swelling of the feet and legs due to prolonged exposure to irritant soil. In Malawi, children walk up to five kilometers each day to get to school. The shoes in Peru protect children’s feet from the hot ground.

Rutter found out about TOMS Shoes when her boyfriend bought her a gift card for Christmas, and it came with the documentary “For Tomorrow: The TOMS Shoes Story.”

“When I watched it, I discovered how incredible the company was and all they do for thousands of people all over the world that have to go without shoes,” she said. “I was originally job shadowing at Columbia Sportswear for my project, but when I saw this I knew that this was what I was supposed to do. It was just such a great story and such an amazing cause so I changed my entire project.

“What really inspired me was the children’s faces in the documentary and how excited they were for a simple pair of shoes that the rest of us take for granted and the true love that the people of TOMS feel for every one of the people that they give to,” Rutter added. “I’ve learned that people actually really do care about their community and people in need. Many of the people who have purchased TOMS from me wanted to buy them partially because they liked the shoe but also because they care about giving shoes to the millions who don’t have them.”

Her local marketing efforts have included emailing a letter to parents of students at Liberty Middle School, encouraging them to order TOMS shoes and attend a style event Saturday.

Rutter has also used social media sites such as Facebook to update area residents about distribution of the shoes.

“This project has been stressful, but also really fun and rewarding because of the people that we are helping by promoting this amazing company,” she said. “It’s also been pretty cool because I’ve been able to kind of use what I’ve learned about promotion in my marketing class.”

Rutter plans to earn an associate’s degree at Clark or Portland Community College, before transferring to the University of Washington or Oregon State University. She hopes to study fashion merchandising at a business school and work as a fashion buyer “at a big name company.”