That’s a Wrap
Mother-and-daughter team Beth LaSala and Christina Livada transform a family favorite into coziness for all
When prompted, most people can recall their childhood blanket clearly: the smooth satin of the edging on a machine-made blanket, say, or the bright palette of Grandma’s crocheted squares. But not everyone’s blanket can say it inspired a thriving company. For mother-and-daughter team Beth LaSala and Christina Livada of ChappyWrap, a blanket from LaSala’s childhood not only became a highly treasured family possession but also served as the cornerstone of a company.
LaSala explains, “I had three sisters growing up in Pennsylvania, and we had this blanket that we all just loved. It seemed like it was the one blanket that everybody was always grabbing for. If we were staying home from school sick, it was always the one on the couch that everybody would wrap up in.” She was the lucky sister who ended up with it, but she and her siblings never stopped looking for similar blankets so that they could each have their own. The trouble was, they just couldn’t find all its stellar qualities in another blanket. “It wasn’t too hot, not too cold, very soft, and obviously very durable and high-quality and lasts forever. And you could throw it in the washing machine and it wouldn’t change the way that it felt. We didn’t know what made it that way, but it was just kind of this magic blanket that lived on and on,” she recalls.
LaSala’s own children grew to love it as much as she did, so when Beth was ready to return to working full-time after years as a stay-at-home mother, she and a friend decided to manufacture and sell the blankets. They found a mill in Maryland that was able to make small quantities. “We were able to get them out to the marketplace and see how people reacted,” LaSala says. “We got a very good reaction to the first few—people would say they were incredible. But then the factory closed.” Thinking quickly, they found a mill in Germany that still uses traditional manufacturing methods and moved production there.
Finding the right manufacturer was key, because the blanket’s special attributes start at the most fundamental level: the yarn. ChappyWraps are made from a blend of cotton, acrylic, and nylon. “It’s a very cool process,” explains Livada. “The yarn fibers get twisted before they even go onto the loom. Soft cotton on the outside, and then there are fill fibers that help the blanket keep the same texture, that fluffy soft feel. Twisting the yarn before it goes in also helps with the durability. No shrinking, no pilling.” After being woven on jacquard looms, the fabric is napped between 8 and 16 times to achieve a very soft feel. The jacquard process also means the blankets look equally beautiful on both sides.
The business grew steadily, mostly through trade shows, gift shows, and enthusiastic word of mouth. When LaSala’s partner was ready to retire, she found a new partner close to home. Here Livada picks up the thread of their shared tale: “I had watched my mom come up with the idea for the company, and do all of the research, and source the product, and find the mill. So when her former partner was ready to move on, we kind of looked at each other and we said, ‘We can’t let this thing die.’” Livada quit her job as a speech pathologist and, as her mother says fondly, “hit the ground running. It was really a breath of fresh air that came in.”
Livada began by revisiting their marketing strategy. “We were so passionate about the product, but we knew that we hadn’t necessarily told our story effectively. How are you going to express to people how special this blanket is?” she says. She found a great photographer, located a talented web designer, and consulted with an influencer friend about using Instagram to get the blankets into the hands (and feeds) of other influencers. “We wanted to really make the uniqueness of the product shine through,” she says. They revamped their branding, built a new website, and relaunched in 2019.
One thing that wasn’t on the list of potential changes, however, was the company’s name. LaSala had chosen it when she first started the business while living near Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard. Christina recalls, “We tried to decide when we were first doing our whole rebranding. We thought, should we change our name?” But their consultant in California felt that the name was part of the company’s coastal New England charm. “She said, ‘No, your name is very memorable, and you have a very loyal following. You should keep it.’” Now that they have moved their headquarters to Cape Elizabeth, their nautical designs have started to reflect more Maine motifs. “Now that we’re really based here, we have more and more Maine-inspired designs, like our lobsters, and we named some of our designs after Maine places,” says Livada. They’ve also collaborated with Maine artists such as Sarah Fitz on blanket designs (the first run of her ginger jar design sold out in minutes), and they hope to expand on that in the future.
But their primary focus remains ensuring that other families have the same experience with the blanket that theirs did. LaSala recalls that, at the height of the COVID lockdown, “We’d see these gift messages coming through: ‘I wish I could see you.’ ‘This is me sending you a hug from afar.’ It was just this amazing opportunity to see what our products mean to our customers.” Livada echoes that it’s wonderful to see the blankets “integrated into people’s homes, into their lives, and into their families.” She continues, “People use them, people bring them places, they do things with them. You know, my husband and I and our daughter were at Thompson’s Point recently. We were with a bunch of our friends and his family, and all of us were sitting on our ChappyWraps. We were all eating hot dogs and our kids were covered with ketchup, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. And then the blankets can just go into the wash, come out, and be just the same”—ready to be used and then passed along to a new generation, filled with memories.
While simply touching the plush nap of a ChappyWrap will give anyone clear ideas about what to do with it (find the nearest sofa, snuggle under the ChappyWrap, and repeat as necessary), Livada and LaSala would like to offer a few more suggestions.
–While the standard size is perfect for curling up on the sofa, “We have a smaller size, the mini. It’s a little easier to travel with, so people will bring that on the plane with them,” says Livada.
–LaSala says they have friends who keep a ChappyWrap in the back of the car, “for impromptu picnics or watching the sunset at the beach.”
–They’re ideal as that extra nonscratchy layer for shivering kids. Livada notes, “There’s the little one for the car seat, the stroller. We have a small one for that.” Bonus: crushed cheese crackers wash out like a dream!
–Sending a kid off to college? A ChappyWrap in a dorm room could be the perfect almost-grown-up security blanket—and a cozy reminder of home.