Not The Answer, But A Start
A Letter From Our Founder and CEO
August 12th, 2020
Six years ago, I launched Sackcloth & Ashes with a sewing machine and a roll of fabric.
The journey began when my mom became homeless. Her experience completely changed my bias about homelessness—that people become homeless because they don’t work hard enough. However, my mom is the hardest working woman I know. Because of her, I stopped seeing people experiencing homelessness as failures and started seeing them as people.
Her story inspired me to call my local homeless shelters to ask what they needed—they all said blankets. Familiar with the one-for-one business model, I came up with the idea that for every blanket someone purchases, I’ll donate a blanket to their local homeless shelter. That's when I founded Sackcloth & Ashes.
Within 30 days of launching the company, I received an email from Anthropologie, a Women's clothing retailer, inquiring about 8,000 blankets. Quickly finding a local seamstress to help make blankets, we were only able to fulfill 800 blankets of that order. That's when I realized that we needed a manufacturer—we needed the ability to scale.
After a few months of research, I found manufacturers in Peru and Italy. Since we didn't have a team of in-house designers, I selected patterns that the manufacturing mills had as options. Three of the patterns I selected were the Arrow, Diamond, and Mojave designs, which reflect a southwest/Native style. Since then, those designs have been purchased and loved by thousands of people in the Sackcloth & Ashes community.
Going into 2020, we set out to learn from Native communities, partner with Native artists, and support Native run non-profit organizations. One of my most significant discoveries so far has been that our Arrow, Diamond, and Mojave patterns, being “Native-inspired,” represent cultural appropriation, which is keeping opportunities and resources from Native artists who have their own products with similar patterns—and for that, I apologize to the Native community.
Because we respect authentic Native cultural products and the Natives who produce them, we have decided to discontinue the Arrow, Diamond, and Mojave designs from sackclothandashes.com effective August 31st, 2020.
As we sell through the remaining stock and fulfill our contracts with wholesale partners, for all Arrow, Diamond, or Mojave designs sold, we will donate 5% of the proceeds to Native non-profit organizations. We will also be donating 5% of the proceeds from all past sales of these designs to Native non-profit organizations, which totals just over $100,000 and will be distributed over the next year.
We know this is not the answer, but it’s a start.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.
Founder and CEO
This is an ongoing discussion, so if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org