Sevenly's Dale Partridge is on a quest to "achieve a more truthful existence." To do so, he's on a path to achieve what Proverbs describes as "crowns to a man": an excellent wife, wisdom, wealth, the gray hair of the righteous and grandchildren.
As a teen, Partridge was something of a baseball star in his hometown of Alta Loma. But in a series game in San Diego, he went to throw a pitch, and "my elbow exploded," he recalls. "Everyone knew I would never play baseball again. It was a crazy moment in my life."
But he didn't have time to wallow in the tragedy; the 17-year-old had a side business to focus on. Actually, by that point, Partridge had already started a few side businesses, including an in-home personal-training and massage-therapy business. After he sold that company, he started a rock-climbing gym with some friends. When Partridge was fired from that enterprise, he says, he was left to ponder his next move. "I thought, 'Holy crap, what am I going to do?'"
An accident while rock climbing left him with such bad vertigo that he almost couldn't move without nausea, landing him in a depressing place. "Nothing matters if you are unhealthy," he says. Fed up with the lack of control in his own life, Partridge started some new ventures, including a faith-based identity conference and a book (the now-out-of-print Make It Happen: 30 Steps Young Entrepreneurs Take to Start Great Companies), looking this time to make a difference.
He also started freelancing at a creative agency, where he met Aaron Chavez. The two were buying and selling "social media real estate," managing and owning pages on Facebook, YouTube and others. It was during a meeting, he says, that another epiphany came to him: "What can we do to blend purpose and profit?"
Partridge took all the wisdom of business ownership he had acquired and, with Chavez, started Sevenly in 2011. The company donates $7 from every sale of specially designed T-shirts, posters, reusable bags and so forth to a chosen charity of the week. Every seven days, a different charity and new designs are posted. "Ninety-five percent of all people by age 25 have never given to charity," he says. "You don't understand generosity until you've given."
In the midst of all this, on Feb. 14, 2011, he married Veronica, acquiring his own great wife. He was just 24, and by June of that year, Partridge was running a new business out of his Corona living room. "[Sevenly] totally changed my marriage," he says. "It re-defined what success looks like in my life."
For inspiration, he focused on people whom he thought of as the most successful, from biblical characters to reality-TV dad Jim Bob Duggar. He looked at the amount of joy Duggar had—kids who love each other and a great wife—and the strategy he used to accumulate wealth. Partridge began to see wealth as being not only monetary, but also generosity. "My whole mission is to show that people matter," he says. "I want to lead a generation toward generosity."
And it's working. Assembling a "Type Team" to design the T-shirts and other products meant moving to a "more creative place." What was once about five people in Fullerton grew large enough to necessitate a move to more spacious digs in Costa Mesa, and now Sevenly is preparing to relocate back to Fullerton, this time into a former bank downtown. So far, Partridge's righteous company has raised more than $3 million for various nonprofits. This success has allowed 28-year-old Partridge to step back from the CEO position. Now, he focuses on big projects, he says, as well as speaking on behalf of Sevenly. He's writing another book, People Over Profit. And he spends more family time—with his wife; newborn daughter, Aria; and adorable dog, Rollie—at their cabin in Lake Arrowhead. "We're very much mountain people," he says. Punctuating this statement is the sign in his office: "The Mountains Are Calling."
He hopes to move his family to Bend, Oregon, in the next few years, while keeping operations in OC. In Bend, he says, he'll launch a restaurant that gives back. "I am addicted to achievement," Partridge explains.
The only crown that's left is grandchildren. Maybe Aria, born Jan. 6, can help with that someday.
Patrice Marsters started at OC Weekly as an intern, just before the first issue was published. She is now the associate editor of the paper, serves on the board of the Orange County Press Club, and mentors aspiring writers and editors at Newport Harbor High School. In her spare time, Ms. Marsters co-leads a multi-level Girl Scout troop, creates baked goods, and rants at inanimate objects (including her computer) about her grammatical and writing pet peeves.