Toms Debuts New Bag Line Benefiting Mothers

Blake Mycoskie & Christy Turlington
Blake Mycoskie and Christy Turlington at the Toms Soho store.
Billy Farrell Agency.

Toms’ “One for One” mission has gone from shoes to eyewear to coffee to its most recent iteration: bags. Founder Blake Mycoskie and Christy Turlington of Every Mother Counts were on hand to debut the collection and spotlight the mission on Tuesday night at the brand’s Soho store in New York.

Using the “buy one, the company gives one” model, for each bag purchased, Toms gives a safe-birthing kit to a mom in need around the world and will also donate $5 to Turlington’s charity. Mycoskie, a new dad, said   the project means even more to him now.

“The cool thing is that Heather and I were excited about working in maternal health before we found out she was pregnant. When Christy and I went to Haiti together, when Heather was six months pregnant, it was really special to see the work she and we were doing together, right when Heather was getting ready to give birth. It made it really special,” said Mycoskie.

The handbags are available in Toms stores and online now.

Here are a few things FN learned about the project at the editors’ preview Tuesday night:

The handbag line went from product to philanthropy — a first for the brand.

Generally, Mycoskie and the Toms team find a need first, and then come up with a product to sell to fill it. This time around, Pete Nordstrom got the idea going, suggesting that Mycoskie consider making bags. It was when Mycoskie saw a burlap sack containing a safe-birthing kit that he knew he had the right connection for bags.

Transportation to doctors and hospitals before and after labor is a significant challenge for many moms.

The husband and wife in labor speeding down the highway in the family minivan in complete panic is a standard trope in U.S. sitcoms. In developing nations, transportation to a hospital can make the difference between life or death for a mom-to-be in labor. “There was a woman in our film who was in a serious situation. When they were transporting her to the hospital, everyone watching was gripping their seats in concern. We saw that connection — people understand it,” said Turlington.

Preeclampsia is still a leading cause of death.

Remember what (spoiler!) killed Sybil Grantham in “Downton Abbey”? It turns out the condition is still prevalent, especially among moms in developing countries, because their nutrition may be inadequate, lacking key substances such as Vitamin A and calcium. Turlington and her team are looking at ways to provide these nutrients for more moms.