New shoe collection honors life of Dan Eldon

A photo of Dan Eldon on display at Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles. Eldon died at the age of 22 working as a photojournalist in Somalia. TOMS Shoes dedicated its spring line to his memory and work.

TOMS Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair purchased, launches its spring collection, inspired by the young photojournalist whose war photographs brought to light the plight of war-torn Somalia.

By Homaira Shifa / Special to The Malibu Times

Hundreds of people gathered Friday at a Los Angeles gallery to honor the life of Dan Eldon, the son of local Malibu resident Kathy Eldon, a photojournalist who died while covering the famine in Somalia.

TOMS Shoes hosted the Creative Visions Foundation event at Space 15 Twenty gallery to celebrate the launch of its Spring 2011 Collection, inspired by Dan Eldon.

Eldon was a young photojournalist covering the famine in Somalia in the early ’90s. He raised worldwide awareness of the catastrophe through his photographs. His images were picked up by Reuters News Agency and helped launch a campaign to bring aid to the country. In 1993, at the age of 22, Eldon was killed along with three colleagues by a mob while photographing the aftermath of a tragic bombing.

After his death, Eldon’s war photography was exhibited in a showing called “Journey.” It toured six countries and more than four heads of state, including the President of Kenya, former President of Ireland and the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, attended its openings. Journalist Dan Rather opened the exhibition at Columbia University, and Tom Brokaw spoke during its opening at Duke University.

TOMS Shoes designed a pop-up gallery exhibiting Eldon’s original artwork and artifacts to commemorate the spring collection.

“Dan’s work really displayed showing people you can make a difference,” said Allison Dominguez, public relations manager for TOMS Shoes.

The specially designed shoes for the spring collection feature different aspects of Eldon’s work and life. One pair had his thumbprint from his passport, another displayed his artwork and another was imprinted with the words he lived by: “The Journey is the Destination,” which is the title of the book Kathy Eldon made from her son’s photographs, collages, drawings, weathered maps, stamps, comic book heroes and newspaper clippings from his journal reflecting his upbringing in Kenya and young adult life in New York and Somalia.

In 2002, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, was in a bookstore in New York and came across the book.

“I was really inspired by his photographs,” Mycoskie said. “I loved the rawness and style of his work.”

After reading the book, Mycoskie decided to dedicate his spring collection to Eldon’s life.

“I realized that more people needed to know Dan’s story,” he said.

“We are very flattered that he’s inspired by Dan,” Amy Eldon Turteltaub, Dan’s sister, said. “I miss Dan, but it’s incredible that he is continuing to light all the sparks.”

Amy and her husband, producer Jon Turteltaub, recently had a baby boy whom they named after her brother.

“If Dan were here,” Amy said. “He would say, ‘Enjoy the journey.’”

In an effort to transform the horror of Dan’s death into a positive force for good, Kathy and Amy started Creative Visions Foundations, a company dedicated to using the power of the media and the arts for social good. The foundation offers fiscal sponsorship, mentorship and outreach programs to artists, filmmakers, photographers and other creative activists to develop and promote social change.

At the beginning of this year, the foundation moved into The Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in Malibu. The space encompasses 2,200 square feet of office and conference facilities, a 1,000 square foot deck with views of the Pacific Ocean, a mini-gallery and a 200-car parking lot.

As Kathy spoke to the crowd and thanked everyone for coming to the Friday event, a big screen projected Mycoskie’s “shoe drops” around the world.

TOMS Shoes One for One campaign gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased. The company works with various nonprofits including, World Vision, Guatemala Sana and Hogar De Niños to deliver the shoes.

“It is such an intimate experience to put a shoe on a child’s foot,” Mycoskie said.

Mycoskie created TOMS Shoes after visiting Argentina and seeing how many children were without shoes.

“We started small with shoes given away to 250 children,” Mycoskie said. “Over a million shoes are given away now.”

The spring collection inspired by Dan Eldon includes shoes for men and women, ranging from $44 to $69.

“We hope to encourage people of all ages to become an activist,” Mycoskie said.

More information about Creative Visions Foundation can be obtained online at