Getting to know Bethany Clark, director of TOMS community

Toms shoes for tomorrow - courtesy of Anita.Marie via flickr

By Aurora Lucas – Reporter At Sea

Tomorrow’s Shoes, or TOMS, as the brand is more commonly known, began with one person who had the urge to create positive change in the world. From there came the TOMS Community, which seeks to create positive changes in the communities members impact and create a better tomorrow.

At seven years old, the company has gone from giving 200 pairs of shoes to 10,000,000 to those in need around the world.

Though the brand originated to create shoes, TOMS expanded its products to sunglasses, still keeping the “One for One” philanthropy — buy one pair of sunglasses, and it will help another individual gain his or her vision back.

Bethany Clark is the director of the TOMS Community, and she spent one week on Semester at Sea promoting the TOMS story, hoping to inspire the shipboard community.

Getting to sit down and interview her one-on-one has revealed how truly powerful social media is today and how an individual can follow his or her dreams as long as he or she is passionate.

Q: What made you want to work for TOMS?

A: I really wanted to work for a company that I felt was doing great things in the world and giving back.

Q: How long have you been working for TOMS?

A: Two and a half years.

Q: What was your major in college?

A: Studio art.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I am from Fredericksburg, Virginia. I am from a military family, so I grew up moving and traveling the world.

Q: Did you ever expect any of this to happen?

A: I have always had interest in sales and marketing and a passion for it. I also went to school for art, as well, so I studied something I was very passionate about, but I’ve always been in the marketing world since I graduated.

Q: How did you get the opportunity to work for TOMS?

A: I applied [on] LinkedIn! I got really lucky!

Q: Really? So would you say social media is the way to go?

A: I believe that LinkedIn is a very powerful tool, and it’s one that has given me great and amazing leverage.

Q: How do you like Semester at Sea, so far?

A: It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime.

Q: How were your first few days at sea? Did you get sea sick?

A: I was very fortunate not to go through it at all.

Q: Would you come back again?

A: Definitely. I don’t know when, but I would like to come back and bring my husband for a longer voyage.

Q: Has TOMS been able to send you to travel a lot during your time with them?

A: I’ve been able to travel occasionally. The standout experience has definitely been a giving-back experience trip in Peru last February of 2013. I got to partner with a company called Buckner, and they’re on the ground with Peru doing incredible things, and we got to give shoes to a local community there.

Q: How long were you in Peru?

A: I was with Buckner for a week, and my husband and I took an extra week to spend time in Machu Picchu.

Q: What advice would you give to a student who wants to change the world?

A: Be present, be grateful and stay humble.

Follow the Spring 2014 voyage through #TOMSatSea.

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