Printer with a Social Mission

 - Jan 18, 2012
References: socialimprints & businessweek
Jeff Sheinbein and Kevin McCracken, co-founders of Social Imprints, were named one of America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs, and then they were voted by readers as the top choice. Based in San Francisco, Social Imprints is a printing company that offers higher-paying employment to at-risk adults. got the opportunity to talk with Kevin McCracken, and hopefully, by the end of it, you'll see what Bloomberg Businessweek readers see in this American social business.

Four Questions with Kevin McCracken

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?

Social Imprints was incorporated in 2008, but the seeds of the company were planted in 1999. At the time, Jeff Sheinbein, now Social Imprints CEO, was executive director of a San Francisco non-profit printing company called AI, that hired recovering drug addicts and formerly homeless individuals. Jeff advertised for an admin assistant, and I came in days later, as a shy young man, to apply.

I'd been referred by a counselor at Walden House, a Bay Area drug rehab and treatment center. Jeff liked me I was hired. Soon, I was answering phones, filing paperwork, and performing other duties. My energy and enthusiasm were immediately apparent, and I was soon promoted to sales manager. In 2004, I became executive director, when Jeff was invited to help start a similar non-profit social-based printing company in London.

When Jeff returned from London, we met again with the intention of starting a new social enterprise. After throwing around a bunch of ideas, a sales driving printing company was agreed on. With the shared experience in printing & social enterprise the idea seemed perfect.

2. How did you decide to join this sector?

Both Jeff & I have decided it is in our DNA to work in social enterprise. We have both tried to do other work and it is just not satisfying.

3. How do you get your inspiration?

We are inspired by the need we see in the community around us and our personal experiences. The work itself is an inspiration. For me, it is part of my life to give back the opportunities I was given. Although it is not always easy, we have had each other to lean on as well.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?

I have been playing drums for 20 years, so when I get tired and worn out, frustrated I try to head into the studio to just play. I also meditate twice a day, and spend time with my wife and daughter. Having a child has changed my motivation on many levels. I want to leave her something more than just a business, I want to give her something that she can see makes a difference.