Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buy one, give one

I spent the last four months obsessing over where to buy and what to buy for my new pair of eyeglasses frames. It's somewhat beside the point (though I did finally settle on a great late '50s-inspired pair by Lunnette Kollection at Labrabbit Optics) except that in the process, I discovered the rapidly growing number of online eyewear shops touting a two-pronged business model: In addition to offering fashion-forward eyewear on the cheap (no designer brand name jacking up the costs), they largely market themselves as one-for-one business models. In other words, you buy a pair of specs, they send a pair to someone in a third-world country in return.

My research led me to dozens of other companies selling the give-back component: one-for-one, donating a percentage of profits to a particular organization, or hooking up with a B corporation or a group like 1% for the Planet that ensures compliance with ethical business practices. I'm planning to dig into this topic further here, but for now, I wanted to point to this article that's particularly insightful and forward-thinking in regards to the one-for-one model. In this smart Fast Company piece, Writer Cheryl Davenport explains not only the inherent flaws in the buy one, give one model at Toms, but she offers three solutions to enhance the company's effectiveness. (Photo by Tegan Barr)

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