Martha’s Vineyard memories are woven into these stylish—and so cozy—blankets created by two entrepreneurial mothers.
Everyone remembers their favorite childhood blanket. It protected you from whatever it was that lived under your bed, kept you warm on the couch when you were “too sick” to go to school, and, if it survived those formative years, reminded you of home during your first restless nights in a freshman dorm. It was the blanket that stuck with you through life.
Monica Shelton Reusch and Beth Haller LaSala had these types of memories in mind when they founded ChappyWrap in 2005. The two had been friends when their sons were in school together in Weston, a suburb of Boston. When the time came for their boys to leave for boarding school, the two moms wanted to reenter the working world and thought about going into business together.
While brainstorming ideas, LaSala brought out Lamby, her childhood blanket, which brought her memories of love, friendship, warmth, and coziness. Reusch, who had years of experience in retail apparel, knew she could apply her expertise in the field, and the two began developing the concept of a special blanket for everyone. “Adults, young kids, men, women—we want these to be your everyday blankets for life,” says Reusch, seconded by LaSala.
When it came time to naming the company, Reusch and LaSala wanted a name that conjured thoughts of being snug, comfortable, and relaxed. Reusch and her husband, an avid fisherman, bought a house on Chappaquiddick in the mid-1990s and spend every summer there with their family. The casual and fun island way of life they found on the Vineyard informed Reusch and LaSala’s eventual choice of a business.
“It’s part of that whole Vineyard lifestyle,” says Reusch. “Whether you’re all hanging out around the fire pit, or out on the boat, ChappyWraps are about being together with your friends and family. They just make you feel good and give you a relaxed feel.”
The uses of ChappyWraps go beyond those of your average blanket. The blankets are durable and serviceable through season after season on the bleachers, countless summer days on the beach, or years of accompanying children everywhere. For more low-key use, ChappyWraps are perfect for curling up on a rainy day, catching a sunset on the back deck, or enjoying a quick nap before a fun night out.
Reusch does note that there is a problem when families have just a single ChappyWrap blanket, however. “The number one comment we get is ‘we need more, everyone is fighting over it.’ Whether they’re wrapped up watching TV or taking the blanket down to the beach, Chappy- Wraps are going everywhere,” Reusch says. At 60 by 80 inches, ChappyWraps can cover two people, but the level of comfort is evidently enough to make people very territorial about the blankets.
When Reusch and LaSala first began they were very proud and excited that the materials for their products could be sourced right in the United States. Unfortunately, the start of the economic downturn in 2008 forced the factory that was producing ChappyWraps to close. This particular factory was the last in the country that had the machinery capable of manufacturing ChappyWraps to the standard the partners were looking for, so they were forced to search overseas for another manufacturer.
These entrepreneurial ladies were in luck when they found a factory in Germany that employed the same type of jacquard loom and napping machine that had been used in the factory in the U.S., and production continued with the same standards intact.
“The benefit of using a jacquard loom is that the design is being woven into the fabric,” explains Reusch. This allows for the blankets to be reversible. Unlike blankets with designs being printed (rather than woven) on the fabric, ChappyWrap’s designs will not wash off, or fade easily over time. All yarn used to make the blankets is colorlfast as well, so the colors will not bleed or run when washed.
Soft and huggable, ChappyWraps are 60 percent cotton, 33 percent acrylic, and seven percent polyester. The cotton provides all the warmth and comfort needed to make the perfect everyday blanket, while the acrylic and polyester keep ChappyWraps from shrinking, pilling, and attracting pet hair. All blankets are machine washable, so they can take a beating and come out of the laundry fresh and clean with no hassle.
ChappyWraps are available in over 40 designs with a number of motifs. Sailboats, lighthouses, and anchors are the perfect accent for Cape and Island homes, while the plaids and stars and stripes look and feel great at any picnic, around a bonfire, or lounging in the backyard. “Patterns are always in flux,” says Reusch. “Sometimes we’re bringing new ones in and retiring others. We get so much repeat business that the customers always want something different.”
Each year ChappyWrap opens its Design Search, where fans and customers can submit their own ideas to be made into designs. Once the submissions are compiled, the public votes on the best ideas. The top three choices are created and winners get the first ChappyWrap with their winning design when it comes off the production line.
In the future, LaSala and Reusch hope to see ChappyWrap become an iconic name. “We recently learned that we’ve shipped to every state in the country, but we want ChappyWrap to be a household name for everyone’s special blanket,” says Reusch and LaSala. ChappyWrap. Don’t leave home without one!