Today we’d like to introduce you to Pamela Hunter.
Pamela, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When my middle daughter was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, I was determined to find a way to help her. Sensory processing disorder is a neurological disorder that affects how the brain perceives and responds to sensory input from the outside. When my daughter would experience an episode that made her anxious, we would hold her in a very tight hug and she would slowly begin to calm down.
Through occupational therapy, my family and I learned about weighted blankets and eventually about their ability to make my daughter feel safe. We learned that this type of soothing can be achieved through the use of weighted blankets. Just as an infant feels more cozy and secure when tightly swaddled, weighted blankets provide the same comfort and security by providing a deep pressure when draped over the body.
As a veteran of fashion and design, I knew I could create a weighted blanket that could be more than just therapeutic and functional; they could be beautiful and use sustainable materials. One day while I was designing a rag-rug for my living room, with every stitch the rug became substantially heavier and I realized then and there that I had figured out how I was going to make the perfect weighted blanket for my daughter. As soon as it was finished I laid the blanket over her and you could literally see her little body relax. I remember crying so many happy tears that day because I knew that now she had her very own tool that she could use to calm herself down.
I spent the next year perfecting the blanket and creating a more efficient process. I started gifting the blankets to people in need and the consensus was that these blankets were changing peoples lives. From cancer patients to those with extreme insomnia, these blankets were helping everyone they touched.
Each blanket is handmade using a single, large crochet hook, and the method of crocheting the blankets are in and of itself, therapeutic. As a longtime advocate of children with special needs, I knew that I wanted to employ those that may be on the spectrum like my daughter or other disabilities that may make finding employment difficult. It’s now a huge part of my mission to not only provide a tool to help people with whatever they might be dealing with but to create and provide jobs for those in need of vocational training.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Having a child with some extra special needs while also caring for a newborn plus a teenager and attempting to start a business seems like it would be easy, right? (LOL) But seriously, I look back at that time and constantly ask myself, “what the heck were you thinking?? Were you just too sleep deprived to think logically?” I guess I’m glad I wasn’t in my right mind because there’s no way I would have followed through with this.
I would care for the kids all day while driving the three of them to doctors appointments, therapy, drill team, My Gym baby time, acting, play dates etc. Then once all three of them were asleep I would work on making blankets. I would often start around 9 pm and work until 2 or 3 am… I did that pretty consistently for 10 months. I still have no idea how I survived on that little sleep.
Since I decided to only use deadlock material, it’s a bit of a challenge to find high-quality fabric in large quantities, but I’m determined and somehow I keep meeting all the right people to help me source the fabrics I need. I was also able to connect with a factory that slices my rolls of fabric to help me make the perfect yarn for my blankets. Now that I have all of my “team” in place it feels great, but getting to this point was full of slammed doors in my face, no one calling me back, language barriers, not having big enough car to transport materials, not having a babysitter etc.
I told my husband that sometimes I’m out there trying to solve problems and wishing that a “real” adult will come along and tell me what to do, but no one ever comes and unless I keep pushing the business will never come to fruition. Then he reminds me that if it was easy, then everyone would do it. So, of course, the competitive spirit in me refuses to fail and I keep moving forward, I’m a little bit scared every single day, but I think it’s healthy to feel that way.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sheltered Co. – what should we know?
We are a very small company that got our start by meeting the sensory needs of a little girl. We hand crochet weighted blankets out of thick strips of cotton jersey. The large weave of our blankets allows airflow so that they don’t retain any heat. I knew I could create a weighted blanket that could be more than just therapeutic and functional; they could be beautiful and use sustainable materials.
Knowing that many of them were filled with plastic pellets didn’t sit well with me. I knew I wanted to design something that wouldn’t litter the environment with more plastic. I began experimenting with hand-crocheting (using a very large crochet needle!) large rolls of deadstock fabric. Using deadstock reduces waste and is an eco-friendly way to recycle unused fabric that was leftover by other companies. Each Sheltered Co. weighted blanket uses 55-60 yards of luxurious, thick jersey fabric. I’m proud of the fact that everything from start to finish is sourced and made in L.A.
We wanted to break the mold and create something completely different while still being functional and beautiful… and I’m so proud to say that we did just that. Weighted blankets have always felt so sterile or clinical and I wanted to break that mold along with the stigma that weighted blankets are only for those with physical or mental needs… while our blankets are perfect for people struggling with chronic illness or debilitating anxiety… they are also perfect for anyone and everyone who just needs an extra hug after a long day. Sheltered Co. weighted blankets are the perfect tool to help you relax after a long day.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The help I have received from friends, family, and my community is sometimes I will never be able to fully understand. I would have never been able to accomplish any of this without the constant encouragement from my mom group, MxB (Mamas and Babies Los Angeles). The women is that group came alongside me and helped me with my children, meals, wine, hugs, and enough encouragement to last a lifetime. My mom was a huge part of how I was able to accomplish so much in so little time.
She gave me the funds I needed to purchase large quantities of fabric so that I could begin to perfect the blankets and start selling them. All of my amazing photographers who donated time so that I could have beautiful photos (Cameron Jordan, Brandi Wells, Jamie Arrigo). My amazing copywriters who selflessly created content for my site, blog, pamphlets (Jamie Ramirez, Nicki Wong). The most beautiful designer, both inside and out created my logo and branding and it could be more perfect for me and this amazing brand (Carly Patterson). One of my best friends, Rachel Lorraine, who stepped in and has been by my side making blankets and assisting with photo shoots.
The amazing people at Capital Trim who helped me create the perfect size and method for creating fabric “yarn” for us to crochet. The most amazing Los Angeles based factory, Rich Honey, helped us design and create sturdy bags to carry our blankets. The amazingly talented team that helped me create the most beautiful Kickstarter video led by Nara Walker and Ryan Eng. My husband who worked his ass off to carry our family financially so that I could pursue this dream. I could seriously go on and on because of there’s probably close to 50 people who played a huge role and bringing these weighted blankets to life. I will be forever grateful and I’m humbled by everyone’s belief in me and this mission.
- child size weighted blanket (8-13 lbs) $285
- adult size weighted blanket (17-25 lbs) $385
- Website: https://www.shelteredco.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @sheltered.co
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shelteredco/
- Other: http://kck.st/2IM5xcC
Cameron Jordan, Brandi Wells, Jamie Arrigo