Sackcloth & Ashes
No one should be without warmth
Purchase a Sackcloth Blanket and ensure that someone in the homeless community near you is warm tonight.
To find out more behind how Sackcloth & Ashes got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Sackcloth & Ashes founder, Bob Dalton
ore about the episode...
Josh sits down with Sackcloth & Ashes founder Bob Dalton. Sackcloth & Ashes is a blanket company that offer more than warm, competitively priced, beautiful blankets. What truly sets this brand apart from others is that for every blanket you purchase, another blanket will be sent to a homeless shelter near you. After Bob Dalton’s mother fell into hard times, he got to catch a better glimpse and perspective behind the social issue of homelessness. From there he got to work building his response to this issue and continues to make an incredible product while raising awareness and encouraging more action in helping out the homeless community.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Head to Sackcloth & Ashes website
- Check out their shop and find a blanket that is fit for you!
- Stay updated with any sales
- Got a question? Look for an answer on their FAQs page
- Find a store that carries Sackcloth & Ashes near you!
What is Sackcloth & Ashes all about?
“Specifically we don’t just donate a blanket to a homeless shelter we donate a blanket to a local homeless shelter. So, every blanket that’s purchase in our company, we’ll send a second blanket down the street to a shelter in need…”
What was the inspiration behind starting this company?
“In 2013 my mom lived on the streets for a short period of time and that really changed the way that I viewed the homeless community...Because of that, her ending up on the streets made me realize not all choose to be homeless and some just need a second chance. That’s when I started calling my local homeless shelter and asked what their biggest need was and they told me blankets…”
Do you have any prior experience in making blankets or running a business?
“No, not at all, none of it. I actually started the business by driving down Joan’s Fabric, buying a sewing machine, and trying to learn how to sew. I realized really quickly that I couldn’t sew, and I started hiring local seamstresses in my area…”
What would you say differentiates your blankets from other blankets on the market?
“When I was coming up with the designs and the type of product I want to carry and the market I want to sell to; I wanted to create a product for that $50-$100 range so, I could hit that middle market where people have that opportunity to have a super dope product but they’re not paying $200-$300”
Who would you say is a perfect customer for Sackcloth & Ashes?
“The perfect customer I’d say is a blend of aesthetic from Urban Outfitters to Patagonia. I want that beautiful clean aesthetic look for the home, tailored to a younger crowd, but that younger crowd has an adventurous side to them…”
What made you decide to focus on such amazing photography with Sackcloth & Ashes?
“Because I didn’t know anything about business going into business, that was the one thing that I knew...From even day one if you went to our website and our first social media post, it’s a pretty beautiful shot...Just from day one I decided not to put out any content unless it was prestige...”
Were you in photography or did you have a network of people who were great photographers?
“It’s just basic network. I just started hitting people up on social media...A lot of people responded really kindly, you know? A lot of people really helped me get through that first phase when I didn’t have a lot of money to really market the brand…”
How did you come up with the name Sackcloth & Ashes
“...Sackcloth and Ashes is ancient Jewish symbolism of mourning and repentance...When I came up with the ideas for the blankets I thought that it was a perfect fit because for anybody who buys a blanket it symbolizes mourning over the homeless population and repentance by being able to contribute to a homeless shelter in their area…”
What was the process of developing your product to where it is now?
“I started with fleece blankets, and that was a practical need for these homeless shelters...I started selecting these random fabrics from fashionfabric.com...When we took photos of it and put it online, within 30 days of launching the company I got an email from anthropology and they said they wanted 10,000 blankets…”
How did you develop that relationship with Anthropology?
“I walked into anthropology with a business card and went to the front desk and say “Hey make sure this card gets to your manager, I sell a product that you guys are going to want to carry in your store. It fits your aesthetic and we make a difference in the local communities, whenever you guys sell them”... Ironically the regional team met in the Portland anthropology and the card got passed to the right people at just the right time…”
What is something unique that no one knows about you, your product, or Sackcloth & Ashes ?
“We’re on the cusp of being one of the fastest growing product companies in the nation…”
What has the growth been like from when you started to where you are now?
“In our first year we got our big break because instagram emailed me about featuring us on Instagram’s Instagram…We grew like 18,000 followers in one day...”
What do you considers your strengths?
“The thing that I want to master in my life is communication… I do all of our marketing...I’m able to see our company not from within but, see our company from the outside…”
Did you have any mentors that help you figure this all out?
“I had a really really good friend that I met with every two weeks and we’d just talk about all the ideas that we had...He owns a company and he’s a financial advisor…”
“With people you want to be your mentor, approach them first with not an ask; approach them with learning…”
In terms of the manufacturing where do you guys make the blankets?
“We source our fabric from italy, and the majority of the product, we finish here, in the United States…”
How did you increase your scale in production?
“You start out with what you know, and you do some google research and figure out who sources products and all that kind of stuff...once you outgrow your manufacturer you look for better and bigger options…”
What would you say is one of the hardest parts about building Sackcloth & Ashes?
It’s always a hard question because I’m definitely an optimist and a problem solver...I just look at situations that we quickly fix and move on…”
What’s your biggest fear with Sackcloth & Ashes?
“The only fear that I’ve really had is the fear that we wouldn’t be in the place where we would receive a lot of the opportunities that are going to happen with this company…”
How did you develop this skill to build your strategy and, adapt it to each challenge you face?
“I just see things in the least common denominator. It comes back to that communication thing… I look at something and it either makes sense or it doesn’t make sense and if it doesn’t make sense, I simplify it it’s most simple form so I can understand it…”
What did you use to create this strategy for Sackcloth & Ashes?
“Most people are imitators, very few are innovators...The people that take a step back and innovate new ways, they’re the ones who end up making the most money. Being able to make the bigger difference in the world because they took a step back…”
Where do you see Sackcloth & Ashes headed into the future?
“I see Sackcloth & Ashes being one of the biggest social enterprises of our time period. I see Sackcloth & Ashes being one of the leaders in conversation on the social injustice of homelessness…”
What is the best part about running Sackcloth & Ashes?
- “I live a life of freedom and I don’t take one day for granted. I wake up every single day where I can wake up in an environment where I’m not just sticking something out…”