arielle elise » arielle elise photography

the good shoe project.

the other day i purchased a pair of tom’s shoes. i needed a new pair of shoes on the days that i that i am not wearing the same sanuks i’ve had for years (love them and definitely don’t want them falling apart.) i bought the new tom’s cream colored crochet ones. have you seen them? they are adorable, so very pretty. but they are a little unpractical for my lifestyle and they have a price tag of $60.00  i’ll be honest, i didn’t take them out of the box and wear them. they just sat there in the closet, waiting to be worn. i felt so guilty for spending such a large amount of money on shoes being on such a tight budget.

but of course! if you buy one pair, you give a pair to a child in need. i fully support tom’s shoes and it is a good organization but having been on a shoe drop with toms to argentina myself…… i will be honest. i handed out the shoes that they give the children and they are definitely not at all like the tom’s shoes that we wear. they are much cheaper…and feel more like a piece of cardboard. if it were me, i may just want to stay barefoot. anywho, my conscience and conviction finally got to me and i returned my lovely pair of crochet tom’s.

welp, today i went to payless because they usually have good deals on shoes (so does target, but they’re selection was eh…not so good.) but what did i find at payless? shoes that look just like tom’s! their project is called “the good shoe project.” yes, they may be copying off the idea of tom’s or might seem like a knock-off but oh well. these shoes only cost $19.99 and look great…not to mention it helps give a pair to a child in need. the best part? they work with world vision which is a Christian organization.

so here are the lessons i have learned: 1. don’t spend money on expensive shoes that i don’t need. if i had enough money to buy those crochet tom’s, i probably would have kept them…but i didn’t. 2. payless has the same style shoes for $40-$50 cheaper. 3. with this payless shoe purchase, it not only gives a pair to a child in need but also supports an organization who spreads the love of Christ and the gospel- which is most important.

hope ya’ll are having a good day :)


p.s. thank you so much for all of your kind comments about the pictures shelley took! so sweet!


I bought a pair before I left for Ireland! (Coincidentally, the ones you’re showing here. ha) I love World Vision and these shoes are so much cheaper so it was a no brainer. :) And hey, I say if it’s a knock off that does something really great and helps the money-minded save their pennies, that’s pretty awesome. *grin*

Oh dear. I was under the impression that the shoes the children got were the exact same. Sigh. Thank you for telling us that! I love my TOMS, but in the future, I’ll research the organization a little better.

What a great trade off. I didn’t know Payless had such a project. That’s great!

I literally did the exact same thing with my crochet TOMS. I feel like their prices have also gone up quite a bit since I bought my first pair two years ago. I love that the proceeds go to World Vision. I may just need to get myself a pair!
Love, Leigh

I didn’t realize that the shoes TOMS gives away shoes that are much cheaper and lesser quality, but it’s understandable because they are giving them away. Still, it saddens me. I’m glad that you found great shoes at Payless that are so similar to the TOMS you first purchased that also donate shoes to people in need. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Arielle.

ok this is awesome. i am a HUGE fan of toms and i wear mine almost every day but they are pricey!! since it is currently 107, i am going to hop over to payless and get into the air conditioning. AND since it’s my 3oth birthday, i’m gonna treat myself! good job!

p.s. i love world vision!

Several kids in our church youth group are really into Tom’s. I excitedly told one of them how you got to do a shoe drop off. Thanks for your input and your recommendation. =)

Oh my gosh, 1 BIG thank you!! for pointing that out. 1st off, those kids grow up without shoes, and having shoes would just mess them up (even though we think they’re like us and can’t live w/out them) not to say they don’t need something for their feet but we aren’t thinking like how THEY live, but how WE live if we were there. Big difference.

I’d be far more apt to support a Jesus spreading organization any day of the week and think it’s great you found one through payless. I actually went to payless 2 weeks ago and found the most adorable sailor looking shoes (similar to yours) by Dexter for under $20.00 and I was ecstatic!

Whew! any way all that to say, I’m glad you wrote this so we all know what really goes on. :)

Wow! I had no idea that Toms handed out shoes that were less quality to those kids than the ones we buy here in the states. That kinda changes my idea about them a bit… Thanks for shedding light because to me the only thing that justified the price of the shoes was the fact that they were giving out the SAME PAIR somewhere across the globe. Tsk. Tsk. Tom.

That is blessed news indeed to hear that a corporation like Payless is siding with a Christian Organization to spread the Gospel and get shoes on people across the world. That is really a blessing. AND makes for a very informative post! Enjoy your affordable shoes love!


I am so encouraged by this Arielle. Really! Thank you so so so much.

Wow I didn’t know this. Thank you for pointing this out!


I totally love what TOMs is doing but I feel like their price point is wayyyy out of line. I’ve only bought one pair and that was because my school was doing an event where we all bought one white pair of TOMs and painted them together. I would honestly be buying a whole lot more shoes from TOMs if they were more affordable. Now that option with Payless sounds so much better!

I love that you seek the Lord in all you do, even buying shoes! You are such a good example to me!

i absolutely ADORE these shoes! i have a pair and i practically wore them out! :)


This makes me so happy! I’ve been wanting to buy some Toms, but the price tag always makes me back out of the purchase. I love World Vision and what they are doing. I’m heading over to Payless to see if they have any of these shoes in their store. I love that they are working with World Vision on this project!

GREAT post & great thinkin! You’re so honest, it’s awesome! Next chance I get I will definitely be supporting the Good Shoe project.

So, I just found a link to a blog that had recently written an interesting argument on TOMS Shoes and posted the link to facebook, then today you write this, so I did a follow up and linked this to my facebook as well! So very fascinating.

It really has my heart in deep thought over the fact that you mentioned how the shoes are so different. Another friend who’s a missionary in China says that the stores sell TOMS shoes for $6.80 USD. WHAT?!?!

Anyway, I like this alternative. I like that it partners with an organization, especially WORLD VISION.

Thanks for sending us over to the alternative! I will definitely check them out because as I do love TOMS, I’m not in love with the price.

Woah. :) I was at Teen Mania from 2005-2007. I was a core advisor, and then worked on staff for a small bit right before moving to Teen Mania. What years were you there? I’m SURE we know the same people!

What a small small small world.

that’s so so cool! im so glad you posted about this :) It would be amazing to go on a drop for Toms, I had no idea the shoes you were handing out were cheap though, I thought they were toms :)
Ill have to go by payless!!! :)


woohoo I completely agree!! it saves us money to which is a huge benefit. was it world vision that Bethany dillon went to Africa with? anywho, very awesome! :) (even if your feet do get soaked when you wear them in the rain hehe)

great info and now you have given me a good reason to go to get some shoes :)

dang it! I don’t think my comment went through!
this is a great post! it is a bit disappointing, though, to hear that for the high price we are paying for TOMS shoes, they don’t give out very high quality ones to the kids. that is kind of misleading! I still think it is a great idea…but this post gave me something to think about!
I am so excited to hear about that good shoe project! I looovvveee world vision and it’s so neat that they are partnering with this idea! I’m excited to see where God takes all of this.
thanks for always being such an inspiration! your blog really does shine the light of Christ.


The thing about Tom’s is that there are organizations out there you can simply donate your money or belongings to without getting something in return. And I swear I recently read about an organization that also donates shoes to people in need, but you don’t actually get your own pair. You’re just paying for someone else to get them. I know Tom’s is doing “good things” (though hearing your description of much lower-quality products it makes me wonder), but I feel like it’s much more of a “fashion statement” for most people. And they get the added bonus of others SEEING them doing a “good deed.” Because spending $60 on a pair of shoes is…. charitable? Generous? I just don’t understand it, I guess.

Also, I cannot believe people pay so much money for Tom’s shoes when they’re extremely simple shoes. I think the styles is really cute, but seriously? Wow. Yours are a much better decision at $20!

i have a similar non tom’s shoe in grey! good find :)

That is so good to know! I love the look of those ones (even a bit better than the TOMS). Anyway, thanks for sharing this, I might need to take a lil’ trip to payless soon! ;)

Love those! So cute :)

as long as it’s helping someone, i think that’s the important thing. not to mention, they’re really cute! :)

I love the way you write in such a sincere, honest manner. It’s a rare quality and very refreshing. I have 2 pairs of TOMS and absolutely love them, but am very sad to hear that the shoes they give children who are in great need, are not good quality. Hmmm…I’ll have to check out this new brand at payless.

I actually like these better than Toms! I find the flat toe on the toms makes them look a little elf-like. Great find!

I got these shoes today from Payless! I saw those crochet Toms on Pinterest. They are beautiful, but have a hefty pricetag!


Thanks for sharing Arielle. That is definitely really interesting. I got mad when I saw Sketchers trying to copy Toms. This does still annoy me a bit because I am not a fan of something coming up with a creative idea and others stealing it, but at least Payless is helping others in need as well. Price/Money is definitely a part of life. I wanted those crochet Toms so bad but had to decide that I didn’t have money for that now, even if I could help a child.

Thank you for this thoughtful post…

Recently my mother in law got to hear the founder of TOMS shoes – Blake Mycoskie – speak at a Christian conference in Sydney, Australia about founding a morally minded business. She was really moved by his testimony. I admire his courage to build a company that seeks to address social justice issues, that honours its employees (both the shoe makers and sellers) – as well as its customers and gives them an opportunity to get involved. But bravo to Payless for taking on the same challenge, I really hope they take this campaign to their franchise in other countries as well!

Girl, I saw those the other day but had no idea, if purchased, they gave a pair to a child in need..this is so great to know. Thank you!! :)

Thank you for sharing, I have always loved the idea of Tom’s if I need to buy shoes I want to be doing something good for someone else.. BUT I never pay $60 for anything, except furniture, maybe :)And I love that it is a christian organization. This is a great find!

couldn’t even tell them apart =) Nice find, Arielle!

I’ve gotten shoes from payless (i like flat ones), and i’ve discovered that they do have some comfy and fun-looking cute shoes for a way cheaper price!!

And that’s awesome that payless does that-didn’t know that about them.

i really love TOMS – i stare at them from afar – i really should buy some x

Wow. That is so neat. I love that they are partnering with World Vision! TOMS are expensive, but any organization that is trying to help the poor is awesome in my book. I will have to spread the word about this! My husband heard from his store’s TOMS rep that when Blake (the founder of TOMS) found out about a company doing a similar things (probably this one), he wasn’t mad. He said as long as people were getting shoes, he didn’t care who was doing it.

I have wanted to badly to take part in the Tom’s Shoe Project but being in full time ministry (my hubby and i are house parents in a boys home), I do not have the luxary to drop $60 on shoes, or anything else for that matter! I am so thankful to know this about Payless! I WILL be getting in on this! Thank you for sharing!!!

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Arielle. My hesitation with the payless shoes, although I do think it’s a great idea/project is that sometimes when buying things that are super cheap, are we considering WHY clothing or shoes are that cheap? Is it because someone labored in a factory and didn’t get a fair price or wage? Is it because a company isn’t investing in quality materials to build their product with and aren’t paying fairly for the materials? It’s impossible to research labor fairness and product equality with everything we buy but I honestly feel guilty sometimes buy things “just because they are cheap” because I know they are not cheap for others. And of course j.crew could be totally fooling us and treating labor workers terribly and we are just paying for the name… but payless could be too… you know? It’s not something to easily solve but I’m more interested in investing in companies that don’t hide their business tactics and intentions. Or thrifting basically just gives back to companies like the salvation army and goodwill!

Anyways, I hope my response wasn’t too heavy or disheartening. My attempts are the same as yours in challenging us to contemplate our motivations and be thoughtful people who want to share the love of Christ.


I just wrote a whole response…did it not show? If it did, you can just delete this one :)

I wanted to share that while I totally appreciate this post and know your intentions and heart, I’d challenge all of us to think about the effects of buying things “just because they are cheap”. I often get frustrated when I see people around me complaining about prices (or when i find myself complaining) and buying tons of cheap clothing rather than a few good items of quality clothing that will last them. I wonder who makes the cheap stuff? Who isn’t being paid fair wages? Who are we hurting by settling for companies that sell cheap and hurt other people and countries in the process? Of course I’m sure just because a company sells something for more money doesn’t necessarily mean it is fairly traded or waged… maybe j.crew paid the same as forever21 for their $25 t-shirts. But if we aren’t willing to be people who see beyond the product in the store… how are we contributing? Would it be better to save up for a pair of shoes that might last longer and be of better use? Or maybe giving thrifting a try so we aren’t even consuming anything more, just giving back to charity? Of course these are just my thoughts… and I TOTALLY appreciate this post and your heart and your intentions. I am guilty on all accounts of spending too much money on frivolous things when I could have given that away to someone who really needs it. But I just want to make sure we are all thinking beyond the “cheap products” as to why it’s cheap and who might be paying for that…

Great tips b/c I want Tom’s!

I love the look of Toms but I don’t own any. They are expensive and as you stated in your post the shoes given to the children are not that nice. You would think that they could afford to give a decent pair of shoes to a child (since that is their mission and part of the draw, right?) Also considering the retail price of Toms -and in reality they are probably are very inexpensive to actually manufacture- there is probably a huge profit margin. Laura=Queen of speculation. LOL I have a pair of black canvas shoes I bought at the Family Dollar for only $8. The style is comparable to what you have shown here and they are very comfortable. I have seen these shoes at Payless and I definately intend to buy some in the future.

thank you so much for this post! i had no idea about this project but it sounds amazing! God bless!


I actually just bought a pair of TOMS over the weekend. Hmm…. kinda wish I’d known about these.


Wow! That is awesome! I definitely need to check out Payless. I had no idea that they had this project, but I love it! I too have been debating on the TOMS ordeal and the cost of them. I would feel way better to spend a 1/3 of the price.


oh how awesome! i was there during 2007 (i think) but i was young and 17 and was homesick. (and went home months early)
but my core advisor was the lovely joceyln berry…maybe you know her? hannah ogle was our sister core ca. :)

Woah! Jocelyn is one of my grandest friends and your RD was Alex Voss – now Alex Parker : – you can see them both on Alex’s blog — anyway’s Alex and I went to Teen Mania together from my hometown – she’s my best friend from when I was little itty bitty.

Such a small world!!! Hannah Ogle is dear to my heart also.

Well, how wonderful – I’m glad I’ve found your blog and get to peer into your little life. Your words are life to my little soul of wife/mommyhood.

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