Brandon Swinehart used to chase his highs. Now he chases his dreams through his business – and gives others a chance to do the same.
A Cincinnati native, Swinehart’s initial travels from Cincinnati to San Francisco and back were fueled by addiction. These days he’s drug-free and running a branding company, SRO Prints, in Norwood with a social mission to hire people in recovery as it grows. It’s still in start-up mode, seeking investors, said Swinehart. But it is making a profit.
Swinehart recently sat down for a Q&A with The Enquirer.
Q: What’s your business and how did it come to be?
A: SRO Prints is a full-service branding company. It was started in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in 2009. (A friend and I) were in small basement studio we could barely move in, hence the name SRO Prints (for Standing Room Only). We screen-printed posters for bands and music festivals. I left San Francisco in 2010 pursuing the love of my life, who is now my wife (Sara Swinehart
Q. You restarted the company in 2013 with Sara as the CEO, and Chase Stein as another partner. Tell me about your team.
A: Chase and I are both recovering heroin addicts, so the social mission is very important to us. We chose the screen printing and promotional products industry because of my extensive experience and Chase’s graphic design background. Sara is the problem solver and always has the big picture in mind.
Q: What do you love about where you are located?
A: As a Cincinnati native, I will always love this city and all the creative friends I have here. We think the opportunities here are great for our business model and look forward to making a difference in Cincinnati.
Q: What’s your motivation to keep moving on in both business and recovery?
A: Early in recovery one of the reasons I stayed clean is because I wanted to see what was going to happen with my life. I’ve been clean now for 12 years and I still stay determined to stay clean because life is such an adventure and I don’t want to miss out on it. I’ve applied this principle to our business as well. SRO has been such an adventure and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
Q: Brandon, may we hear about a customer’s order that you had exceptional fun with?
A: One of our friends, who is a poet, contracted us to screen print his new poetry book cover. It was a five-color print with light bulbs in four different shades of gray. The cover turned out great, and it was such a fun project. Most of our business is screen-printed apparel and promotional products, so it was great to get back to SRO’s roots and print a fun flat stock print.
Q: What can you tell folks about hiring employees who are in recovery?
A: We do not currently have any employees. But we’ve recently started working with two outside sales reps, both in recovery. I recommend anyone looking to hire recovering addicts to trust your gut. Look at the whole person not just the application sitting in front of you. Sometimes a second chance is all someone needs to become successful and an asset to any company.
Swinehart was a guest speaker at a November 2016 Cincy Storytellers Project event, Finding hope: Addiction and Recovery. You can hear his story at www.storytellersproject.com.