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Toms Shoes expands 'buy one, give one' to glasses

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ZUMA Press/Newscom

(Read caption) Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes, speaks at the SXSW trade show in Austin, Texas, in March. Toms donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Now it's expanding into eye wear too.

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Five years ago, entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie had a canvas-and-rubber-soled epiphany. He would sell fun, fashionable shoes at a moderate price to Americans. For each pair he sold, he'd donate a pair of shoes somewhere in the developing world.

Toms Shoes has been a hit, and Mr. Mycoskie has given away 1 million pairs since 2006.

Last week he announced he'd be expanding into eye wear – a pair of fun and fashionable sunglasses sold to paying customers would underwrite prescription glasses or medical eye care for those in need.

And he doesn't want to stop there. "From this day forward, Toms will no longer just be a shoe company, it will be a one-for-one company," Mycoskie says.

Toms Shoes cost from $44 to $98 and the new sunglasses will run $135 to $145.

"Of the nearly 284 million people in the world who are visually impaired, almost 90 percent live in developing countries," the Toms website says, in explaining the company's "one for one" model. "It's a vicious cycle – poverty and disease can lead to vision loss. And blindness and poor vision keep people trapped in poverty....

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