Mary Farrell's Es Fueris line of organic women's clothing lasted just three seasons before the Cleveland native ran out of money and time.
But the leftover bolts of thermal, naturally colored cotton reminded Farrell of a baby blanket, and in 1996 she launched a new, more successful line: Cherub's Blanket.
"It clicked," she says. "There are no patterns to make a blanket. I could sew them myself, and so Cherub's Blanket was born."
Working from home, Farrell spearheaded the company's production for nearly 15 years until orders for the cozy covers overwhelmed her, and she left her job as a financial planner.
"I really couldn't keep up the volume by sewing only on nights and weekends," Farrell says. She applied for and won Cleveland's 5th Street Arcades Retail Development Grant Competition in May, using the money to open Bright Green Gift Store, a space where she could sell her blankets and other vendors' sustainable goods.
"It's a lot of fun to introduce people to these really lovely products that are better for the environment, better for people and support local businesses," Farrell says of the shop, which also carries items such as soaps, tea and greeting cards.
Farrell now contracts five seamstresses who produce nearly 100 blankets each month from a Gordon Square Arts District workshop. Blankets are also sold in 10 boutiques across the country and on Amazon.com.
The line's classic receiving blanket ($35.95) stretches 40 inches long. "The blankets are heirloom quality as far as the construction is concerned," Farrell says.
But Cherub's Blanket fare extends beyond the swaddle. Farrell partnered with Esperenza Threads to produce onesies (from $16.95 to $25), some with cheeky designs such as an image of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story and the phrase "Fra gee ley" underneath.
"That one sells even in the summertime," she says.
Farrell's bath set ($44.97), which includes a hooded towel and washcloths, is also a customer favorite. "There are a ton of people out there in the baby market," she says. "But no one is doing exactly what I'm doing."