Faux Fur for a Genuine Cause: Susie Mullenger’s Comfy Throws

Don’t Freak It’s Faux throws are amazing, lush blankets that are as soft as fur (but faux, of course), and just want to make you lie down, cozy up, and never leave the couch.

Susie Mullenger didn’t set out to own a blanket company. One day she was in a fabric store buying material for her daughter’s dance costume when she came across the softest material that she thought would make a great throw. “And I don’t sew,” she said. “So I glued the pieces together!”

It worked just fine, and her children loved wrapping themselves in it. But she knew she was on to something when her husband came down the stairs one day draped in it. “This must be good,” Mullenger remembered she said to herself.

Then friends came over, loved them, and she started selling them — still glued together. People loved them. But it was one fateful day that her life, and her soon-to-be-company, took a different turn. Mullenger received a call that a good friend’s niece, Carrie, was terminally sick. She felt compelled to give this little girl a comfortable, cozy throw while she was in Children’s Hospital. “But I also felt like I wanted to drop off a couple to the other children there, too,” she said.

On the Saturday when she was scheduled to go she wasn’t able to make it; nor on Sunday. Then on the following Tuesday when she arrived, she dropped off the blankets to the other children. “When you bring in hot pink blankets into a cold, sterile hospital room, there’s something comforting about it,” Susie said.
Then she moved on to see Carrie. “When I got there, they directed me to ICU, but I didn’t comprehend, it didn’t register it was ICU,” Mullenger said. “But when I walked in there, I had arrived the same moment that the hospital had told the parents she was about to die.”

Mullenger said she didn’t really feel like she belonged, yet feels at the same time she was there in perfect timing because she was able to help with logistics during this emotional time. There was a reason she didn’t make it the previous Saturday or Sunday, she felt that the timing of when she was supposed to be there was a meant-to-be thing. She called the other family members on behalf of the parents. “I was there at that time for a reason,” she said. She left the family alone, leaving behind the blanket that she had brought for Carrie.

After Carrie passed, she talked to her friend, whose niece it was that died. “Her first words were, ‘I have to tell you about the blanket’ … I remember saying ‘I don’t care about the blanket, tell me about you …'” Mullenger said. Her friend, however, continued to tell her the blanket was a sense of comfort. “Then when I talked to her husband he said, ‘I have to tell you about the blanket …'”

The little girl Carrie never even saw the blanket. Because Mullenger arrived on the Saturday that she did, Carrie wasn’t conscious to enjoy it — but the throw brought comfort to the adults. And after everything was over, the mom of the little girl at first didn’t want to keep the blanket. But one night she wrapped herself up and later told Mullenger she had the most deep peaceful sleep, so she was absolutely keeping it.

“It’s amazing,” Mullenger said about this experience with a friend’s niece. “I got to intimately experience something that I wasn’t intimately involved in.”

But this experience inspired her to start doing the throws and create a company. “And I thought, ‘if I’m doing it, I’m doing it big,'” she said. Here’s the beauty in all of this … for every five blankets sold, the company donates one to Children’s Hospital. She started the company in July of 2005, and at Christmas that year, she donated a couple hundred blankets.

“And then because of the relationships I have with two wonderful fabric suppliers, I asked them to donate fabric, so the donations of the blankets can be even higher,” she said. This past Christmas 2006, approximately 1000 blankets were donated to children.

“It was the worst/best year of my life,” Mullenger said. In feeling like all this is a blessing from God, she said with a laugh, “But just because it’s from God, doesn’t mean it goes easy … But so many times we just need to step out in faith and do crazy things.”

And oh — the beautiful blankets … when she started the company, she did hire a sewer. So, she did a “recall” on the glued ones. “Even though they only sold to friends, we had a recall and replaced them all!”

The blankets are available at www.dontfreakitsfaux.com; the small size for children is 36×30; the regular size is 60×40 and the large is 60×60. Custom sizes available, too.

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