A recovering addict found the light at the end of the tunnel with an unsuspecting source: screen printing. See how it’s now changing lives for many others across the region.
Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can turn things around. That’s what happened to Brandon Swinehart, Co-Founder of SRO Prints, a full-service branding company with a unique social mission.
“We employ and later offer shares of the company to recovering addicts,” explains Swinehart. “We have over 25 years of combined experience in the graphic design, promotional product, and apparel decorating industry. Our screen printing is all done in-house and we are one of the best apparel decorations in the region. Our co-founder, Brandon Swinehart, trained and worked alongside the industry leaders in apparel decorating from California to New York.”
The journey to establishing and building SRO Prints wasn’t an easy one for Swinehart. He was the middle child of 4, and never felt like he fit in.
“I grew up in an educated, upper middle class home with my three siblings and parents,” he explains. “One bad choice after another I somehow found myself an addict and homeless in San Francisco with a lengthy record I had obtained to support my habit.”
Swinehart said enough was enough and decided to change his life and get clean on May 5, 2005. Coming back to grips with his reality, he hadn’t had a job in nearly a decade and didn’t have many skills to offer – just a prison record and bag full of donated clothes.
However, he was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when he was offered a job at a nonprofit in San Francisco that screen printed shirts. And that’s when he fell in love.
“I became friends with the general manager who was also a recovering heroin addict and soaked up everything I could about the industry like a sponge,” he says. “I’ve worked for and with some of the best apparel decorators in the country, but I still felt like I had something more to offer.”
That’s when he was inspired to team up with his wife and business partner and launch SRO Prints, because he wanted to help other recovering addicts get through the stigma that’s too often attached to them when they struggle with a drug problem.
“I know the fear, frustration, and struggle that comes with rebuilding your life after destroying it for years,” he says. “Sara, my wife, who is not in recovery, saw addiction and recovery in a new light and felt it was our mission to help those who needed a second chance by offering a career and not a job, a place where you are accepted and not judged. We are a tightly knit company with a very high standard of excellence.”
Swinehart credits his wife Sara, the CEO behind SRO Prints, for much of the company’s success. SRO Prints was a finalist for Bad Girl Ventures, now known as Aviatra Accelerators, and Artworks’ Big Pitch under Sara’s guidance. Chase Stein serves as the company’s lead designer and account manager. Swinehart is the COO of SRO Prints and has all the connections in the apparel and promotional products industry.
With COVID-19 hitting the country hard, Swinehart is currently the only employee coming into the warehouse as many of their clients have closed. “We are currently running a campaign to help one of our clients, Over the Rhine Community Housing,” he says. You can learn more about the campaign here.
Swinehart is looking forward to fully opening up SRO Prints again when things return to normal, as they have plans to purchase a 10-color automatic press for screen printing apparel and also setting up a new shop.