Sackcloth and Ashes is an incredible social enterprise that designs high quality lifestyle blankets that give back. For every blanket sold one fleece blanket is donated to your local homeless shelter. These blankets are the perfect accessories for picnics, beach days, cold winter days, outdoor adventures and daily living. In keeping with our April theme of #socalityrestoreproject, the work and mission of Sackcloth and Ashes is an inspiring story. We chatted with Founder, Bob Dalton about the inspiration behind the company and what he has been learning along his journey.
Tell us where the idea for Sackcloth & Ashes Came from?
I have always been passionate about social issues, but homelessness was never one of them. Then in 2013, my mother had became homeless. This radically changed my perception of homeless people. I was always the guy who drove by homeless people who were begging on the street and was like, "Go get a damn job."
When my mother became homeless, it changed everything for me. She has two college degrees, managed restaurants, raised my sister and I by herself, and saved enough money to move us from our apartment into a home that she bought.
Because she was single she always had different guys in and out of her life. Nobody solid. Because of this, she always confided in her mother (my grandma). She was my moms rock. Then, my grandma past away. From that point on my mother went into a downhill spiral of depression and started to battle alcoholism.
Within a few years she had lost everything. Her job. Her money. Her house.
She moved in with a guys and became an alcoholic.
As a son there was not much I could do except pray. She was in such a dark place that nobody could help her even if they tried.
Then the summer of 2013 my mom texted me, "Bobby, I'm doing it. I'm selling the little I have left and I'm going to move across the United States (from Oregon to Florida) and start my life over."
And she did. She sold the little she had left and moved across the United States with a little tiny suit case with two pairs of interview clothes.
When she moved to Florida she ran out of the little money she had very quickly and ended up becoming homeless. She slept on benches and beaches for two months.
I knew where she was the whole time because I was paying for her cell phone she had. I was in contact with her through the whole journey. She would allow me to send her money, nor did she have an address in which I could send. She didn't want me to fly her back home to Oregon because she had nothing left to come back to. For her, this was her journey. Her story to write. And as the strong woman she is, she wouldn't have it any other way.
How is your Mom doing now?
After a few months of living on the streets, she ended up hitch hiking up to Ohio. She shared her story with a married couple and they fell in love with her and her story. She lived with them until she could find a job.
Now she works two jobs and has a little apartment in Ohio. She also goes to church (the first time since she was a kid). After she got back on her feet she texted my sister and I this: "I left Oregon 16 weeks ago. I asked God to please help me become the person he wanted me to be. I left everything. I was alone. Sick. Robbed. Stranded. Afraid. But I never gave up. I still have faith. No one can take your faith and strength away. Even when you are at the bottom. I am thankful by how amazingly strong I have become, though HIM. I can't wait to see you guys again."
How does Sackcloth & Ashes give back?
When my mom was on the streets, I started to call my local homeless shelters to ask what they needed. For the first time in my life I wanted to serve the homeless community. All of the shelters that I called said they need, "Blankets."
So in June of 2014, I founded Sackcloth & Ashes. Sackcloth & Ashes is a company that sells high quality blankets in the USA & Canada. For every blanket someone purchases, we will give a blanket to their local homeless shelter.
Now, we have provided over 3000 blankets to shelters all across the nation.
Give us 3 things you've learned since you have launched your business?
1. The power of belief. If you believe in something greater than yourself, believe in yourself, and believe in your idea - nothing will keep you from achieving it.
2. The power of perception. From the launch of the company we have always strived to have the best photography, website, and branding. We always want people to look at our brand and go, "They must be a big company." And now we are finally becoming one ;)
3. The power of collaboration. We have partnered with some of the fastest growing and most influencial organizations, magazines, brands, and people. It's what has got us to the place where we are at.
What has been a few highlights of 2015 so far?
Getting restocked after the holidays and feel like we are on offense again. Being that this last holiday season was our first, it took a lot out of us and we had learned some invaluable lessons. Now we are in such a healthy place and have tons of product - therefore, we are rapidly expanding our retail game and partnering with more homeless shelters, organizations and people.
What is next for Sackcloth & Ashes?
I will be speaking at the AGRM Conference in May. This is the organization that oversees most of the homeless shelters in America. There will be close to one thousand people there, representing those shelters. I get the privilege to share my mothers story and spur them on to continue to make a difference in their local communities. That's probably one of my most proud opportunity for this company so far. We will be at the next Socality conference. Details will be coming soon.
We will also be releasing a video around next Fall to call people into something really really big.
You can purchase your blanket here. They also are now shipping to Canada!!