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College Idea Evolves Into Family Business
When 17-year-old Gary Clegg asked his mother to make him a custom fleece blanket, he had no idea it would be the beginning of a whole new business.
  It started with a simple problem that might plague any young student trying to save money by keeping the heat down. In the winter Clegg couldn't operate a television remote. After deciding against simply cutting a hole in the blanket because it would let cold air in, he asked his mother to sew a blanket with two roomy sleeves. She did and he and his roommates used it throughout their college years. When he moved to Colorado, people started asking for a blanket for themselves and for gifts. Clegg found a Maine factory willing to make small orders for him.
  With continued encouragement and interest, Clegg and his brother started marketing what they call the "Slanket" in 2006 - mostly on the internet.
  "The whole philosophy is excessive, indulgent comfort," Clegg says of his 60 by 95-in. fleece blankets with 13-in. wide sleeves. It's designed to be thrown off easily and not feel like a piece of clothing.
  "Right off the bat we sold to video gamers and tech people who write on laptops," Clegg says. "Overall the main demographic has been women who are internet savvy and men buying it for women."
  High fuel prices, causing people to lower their thermostats, have fueled demand for the Slanket, Clegg says, and more older people have been ordering his product.
  But he's also found interest from people he didn't anticipate.
  "People on chemotherapy, or dialysis, get cold after treatments," Clegg says, and they like warming up in the Slanket and being able to read a book or work on a laptop.
  He knows customers' stories because he communicates with them.
  "One great thing about our website is that it's really friendly to customers and promotes interaction," Clegg explains. "When they buy my product, I send them messages and they feel comfortable giving feedback."
  The adult version sells for $44.95. A children's version, 44 by 66 in. with 10 1/2-in. wide sleeves, is $29.99. The thick 310 gsm (grams per square meter) fleece comes in several colors and can be washed in cold water and tumble dried in low heat.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gary Clegg, The Slanket (ph 207 310-8949; info@theslanket.com; www.slanket.com).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6