Before Sheltered Co. and its hand-woven weighted blankets had amassed a cult following, before the partnerships with the likes of Nordstrom and GOOP, before there was even a monstrously successful Kickstarter to launch the product, there was a crafting mistake.
Founder and creative director Pamela Hunter was trying to make some rag rugs out of fabric she'd found at a yard sale. She cut the fabric into strips, tied them together, and proceeded to crochet. What she ended up with was beautiful, but way too heavy and thick to work as a rug. On a whim, she draped this "rug" over her daughter Ransom's shoulders and was blown away when she witnessed how it seemed to immediately calm her.
Ransom was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at two and a half years old, and often struggles with body and mood regulation, resulting in extreme discomfort and physical agitation. Although Pamela had been told many times that a weighted blanket could help soothe and calm the nervous system, she never thought about using her crochet skills to design one herself. She realized she had created something special and unique—and could really help kids with neuro-diverse difficulties and differences, just like Ransom.
The mom of three and a veteran of fashion and design, Pamela knew that if she set out to do this, her blankets couldn't just be therapeutic and functional; they had to be sustainable and beautiful, too. "Constructed with love, each blanket is meant to feel like a big hug," she explains. "The blanket also has an incredible texture to give some tactile input, so kids with autism can sort of fidget with their blanket while receiving the same benefits that one gets when receiving a hug."
Sheltered Co. weighted blankets are made out of "deadstock" material, or an already-existing substance that would end up in landfills if not upcycled into new products. The blankets' wide weave leaves room for airflow, and unlike other weighted blankets on the market that are filled with pellets or beads, Pamela’s received their heft simply from the fabrics they use. The blankets are also machine washable, as they’re made from the same materials as T-shirts: cotton and cotton-blend jersey.
In 2019, the Sheltered Co. ventured into creative collaborations when Pamela designed a piece with actress Sophia Bush, who was already the proud owner of four Sheltered Co. blankets. "Sophia reached out to me about the idea," Pamela shares. "I jumped at the opportunity, of course." Her second design collaboration came this past February, with Bando founder Jen Gotch. "The collaboration was in connection with the release of her book, The Upside of Being Down," she explains. "For that collab, we did our very first dip-dye ombre blanket," she says. "It turned out amazing!"
To see what designs Pamela is working on these days, and to be the first to know when the next collection will arrive (certain colors sell out quickly!), you can sign up for her newsletter.
Carissa Tozzi is the co-founder of Wolf + Friends, the community and lifestyle platform for moms raising children with special needs.
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