Late last year, TOMS Animal Initiative partnered with the Clinton Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society to launch a new shoe product that raises awareness about the elephant poaching crisis. On April 14, 2015, the Clinton Foundation 20/30 program hosted a film screening event to amplify this message. Jennifer Maches, TOMS marketing manager, told us how partnerships like these are making an impact.
Clinton Foundation: What are the origins of the TOMS Animal Initiative?
Jennifer Maches: TOMS Chief Animal Lover Heather Mycoskie was inspired to start the TOMS Animal Initiative when she learned that wild lions are at risk of being extinct.
"I felt like there was so much we could do to come together to save these and other majestic animals," says Heather. "Combining my love for animals and my love for TOMS made perfect sense."
Through the TOMS Animal Initiative (TAI), TOMS partners with nonprofit animal conservation organizations to drive awareness and funding for global animal protection.
CF: How did the partnership between TOMS, the Clinton Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society come to be?
JM: TOMS has been involved with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative for many years, focusing on various initiatives such as our CGI commitment to Haiti which included opening our first (TOMS) shoe factory in Haiti in February 2014.
Heather was passionate about supporting elephant conservation and she also loved the work that Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was doing to protect them. In 2013, WCS and more than a dozen other organizations and government leaders came together to announce “The Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants”, a landmark CGI commitment so a partnership between TOMS, WCS, and the Clinton Foundation made perfect sense. Chelsea Clinton played a big part in bringing all the partners together.
The three of us came together around a mutual goal of increasing awareness of the diminishing number of elephants due to the growing demand for ivory. Each organization brought their area of expertise to the table to ensure the campaign’s success. Sales of the shoe support WCS’ programs dedicated to protecting elephants.
CF: Why are partnerships like this one so important?
JM: There is great power in partnerships. By joining forces with the Clinton Foundation and WCS we were able to leverage our shared resources and create an impactful campaign that helps educate audiences on the link between ivory consumption and elephant poaching.
By continuing to inform the public on this crisis, our actions can help stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand for ivory. Together we can bring attention to the threats elephants face and help ensure these creatures roam this earth for generations to come.
CF: A couple weeks ago, TOMS participated in the Clinton Foundation’s 20/30 event about this issue. From your perspective, what was it like to see 20/30 members become more informed about the elephant poaching crisis?
JM: 20/30 members got an inside look at the Clinton Global Initiative’s Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants and learned how they could be a part of the movement. The event was informative, educational and exhilarating. You could feel the energy radiating off this passionate group of individuals.
Ultimately, we all learned that it starts with us. We have the power to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. 96 elephants are killed each day. If poaching continues at the current rates, African elephants may face extinction in 10 years. I cannot imagine a world where my kids and grandchildren don’t coexist with these majestic creatures. We cannot be the generation that allows elephants to disappear.
CF: What was the reaction to the TOMS + Clinton Foundation + WCS collection at the event?
JM: We were ecstatic by all of the positive feedback and genuine interest in the initiative. It was a true testament in how fashion can play a role in helping get the 20/30-generation passionate about supporting these larger global issues.
We also saw this through our social media. Many of our fans added to the digital conversation by showing their passion for the cause.
CF: What can we do together to engage the leaders of tomorrow on today’s important issues?
JM: 20/30 does an incredible job of initiating the conversation around compelling and important global issues. It’s organizations like 20/30 that continue to encourage young individuals to take a stand in making this world a better place. For me personally, 20/30 has helped me become more passionate about getting involved with the great challenges my generation faces, and to believe that we all have the ability to shift the tide and build a better world.
Partnerships like the one between TOMS, the Clinton Foundation, and WCS also play a critical role in keeping the conversation going. Each organization brings expertise in their own field, but by working together we can raise collective awareness in a way that we couldn’t do alone.