Clothing biz supports special needs, seeks contest funding


by Jaime Cerreta

Bio | Email | Follow: @CerretaNews

Posted on November 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 29 at 10:20 PM

PHOENIX -- A Valley man who takes artwork created by people with special needs and transfers it onto clothing is hoping to win $10,000 to fund his business.

Phoenix-based Paper Clouds Apparel is competing with many projects for a chance to receive funding from Each month, the website financially supports the project that receives the most public votes.

"It's exciting and very stressful," said Robert Thornton, founder and CEO of Paper Clouds. "This would completely change everything we're doing and put us on a much larger scale, and change millions of lives of those with special needs."

Thornton showcases the artwork on T-shirts, hoodies, hats and bags. Every two weeks, he donates half of the proceeds to a different special needs cause.

A former baseball player, Thornton was forced to change his lifestyle after he was sidelined with an injury.

"I was looking for something to do to give back because baseball has been my life," he said.

The first piece of art he printed on a T-shirt was a robot sketched by a 9-year-old autistic boy named Jeb.

He now employs people with special needs to package the merchandise. He hopes to open his own facility and create more jobs in the future.

Thornton was in second place Friday night with 2,677 votes. A New York-based project that supports cancer research was in the lead with 2,712 votes.

"It's literally like the World Series for us right now in this contest," he said. "We are down to the wire, and all we can do is come back and get a win from behind."

Voting ends at 10 p.m. Saturday.

To vote, visit