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From bankrupt to benevolent Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jan 28 2012 12:00 PM

East Vista resident Andy Cruz produced an idea for a clothing brand in 2008 when he was facing financial meltdown.

"I had to file for bankruptcy and at that same time I realized I hadn’t read the Bible cover to cover, which I had always wanted to do," he said.

In his pursuit of knowledge, Cruz came up with the idea of reverse tithing, which stems from the biblical concept of giving back 10 percent of a person’s income to the church.

Cruz, 32, developed a model that would give back 90 percent of profits from a clothing company he would call the 9010 brand.

“The idea couples obedience with the biblical principle of giving to your neighbor,” Cruz said. “It came out of my own introspection and asking myself what my life really stands for.”

Cruz, who works as a certified mortgage-planning specialist in Chula Vista, got a few of his closest friends together to see what could happen if everyone used their strengths and talents to generate revenue.

As a managing partner of a San Diego-based web technology and design company, Chris Fialkowski uses his online marketing skills to give better visibility to 9010.

Cruz and Fialkowski also gained a new financial perspective after taking a money study through their church in Eastlake.

"For me, tithing is a critical aspect of my family’s life," Fialkowski said."The core of 9010 is not about what individuals can do, but what a group of people can do together. It takes a theoretical shift in somebody’s life to want to be a part of it. But at that point, the sky’s the limit."

Fialkowski, 34, said the majority of society is able to live off 10 percent of their income, but chooses not to.

"We live in a society that’s driven by materialistic values," he said. "We have the ability to fix homelessness. It’s about changing the mindset we have."

Last year, 9010 partnered with the San Diego Rescue Mission for its annual Sleepless San Diego event and the YWCA’s Walk a Mile in her Shoes event, to create their T-shirts and other outerwear.

The YWCA advocates for the elimination of racism, domestic violence and the empowerment of women.

9010 also designed a hoodie for the Eastlake Church high school ministry, where profits went to the Bilateral SafetyCorridor Coalition, which focuses on combating human sex trafficking.

Cruz said this year, 9010 will focus on fighting human trafficking locally.

“We’ve got to take care of the people that are here first,” Cruz said.

Cruz said the issue of sex trafficking hits close to home because he is married and has three daughters, ages 2, 4 and 6.

9010 brand mostly uses grassroots campaigns and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise their company.

It has acquired 475 likes on Facebook since it was founded on May, 13 2011.

9010 is located in Chula Vista and operates as a California corporation, which allows them to raise as much money as they want and also make sure the right amount of money gets to the right people.

For now, 9010 is financially fueled by each individual’s nine to five paychecks.
Cruz said his short-term goal for the company is to complete a full fashion line by the end of this year.

“Ultimately I’d like to see 9010 stand alone as a model for giving back,” Cruz said. “Our big goal is to contribute $1 billion through donations.”

Garry Rollins, who is married with three kids, is the lead designer for 9010.

Rollins, 30, said he joined the company because it was similar to something he was already doing in school at The Art Institute.

Rollins’ responsibility is to come up with ideas for logos and clothing design.

“If people see what we’re doing, hopefully the idea becomes contagious,” he said. “I’m looking forward to some growth in the new year and the changes we can make in people’s lives.”

To date, 9010 has helped raise more than $3,500.

Tom Butler is the fourth person who volunteers with 9010 and is the company’s screen printing person.

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