As advertised, I am proud to present an interview with Gary Clegg, the cozy visionary who brought us the original Slanket. I sent him nine questions so that he’d have the option of skipping a couple, but he answered them all quite delightfully. He didn’t even skip the dreaded Snuggie query, which I would have totally glossed if I were him.
This interview follows last week’s post in which a couple of friends (who shall remain unnamed to protect their privacy) (and dignity) were kind enough to review the Slanket and the Snuggie, and I’m pleased to report that the Slanket is handily the superior product.
To my surprise, I seem to be giving sleeved blankets a great deal of coverage lately. I think this interview is a fine conclusion to the series, and I look forward to moving on. For posterity’s sake, though, here’s the story so far:
- It’s game time: Snuggie vs Slanket
- This Slanket thing is out of control
- Lounge Off: Slanket Vs. Snuggie
How did we get from one personal Slanket to the Slanket empire?
A very general question. I will try and summarize. I asked my mother to make the first Slanket ever. There were no other blankets like this that I could find at the time. I used it through college. I then moved to Brazil. I then moved to Boulder, Colorado to write a novel and live with my older brother.
It was then that I started perfecting the specs of the Slanket. I made prototypes, tried different sizes, lengths, etc. My brother and I started giving them as gifts to friends and family. We decided to start a proper business. We built a site, and launched it with guerilla marketing tactics. Postings on blogs, and online review sites helped get us off the ground. We blasted off the ground, and sold Slankets in 15 countries in the first 6 months. I then launched a PR mailout to radio stations and magazines across the nation, offering to do giveaways and interviews. This worked. People wanted to talk about it and we began to gain momentum, all the while growing on the Internet. New York Times.com, and major newspapers picked up the story.
We then attended a couple trade shows, at one of which, we became the Cinderella story and appeared on the Today Show and local morning shows in Chicago. We received orders from QVC, SkyMall, etc. and it really took off. I began selling on QVC and sold out continuously even breaking a record. A big deal. QVC is a monster. And there you have it.
When did you realize that the Slanket had “made it,” as it were?
A few times. The first, when it appeared in the Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, etc after the first article. I knew we had something. The second time: When it appeared on The Today Show in 2007 with Giada De Laurentiis. The third: After my first appearance on QVC and we sold out. The latest, when a very famous comedian did a piece on it, on Rodeo Drive, and when 30 Rock wrote it into a script.
What color was the original Slanket and has the Smithsonian Institution yet approached you about acquiring it?
The original was beige made of Valex material and it is falling apart. No Smithsonian yet, but I’m saving it for that day.
What is the best Slanket story you’ve heard? Customer or media.
Oooh, that is a tough one. We had a customer propose to his girlfriend by sewing a pocket into one and putting the ring in it. We also had a community that competes every year to see who can be the last to turn on their heat each fall/winter. We gave the winner a Slanket. There was also a woman whose husband died, but before he died he had bought her a Slanket. She didn’t receive it until after his death, and she cherishes it. We once had a guy in Saudi Arabia order nine Slankets.
On your site, you write about this not being about the pursuit of wealth, but of experience. Have you taken the Slanket abroad?
Of course. The impetus of the Slanket was not the pursuit of wealth, but of course we will sell the Slanket wherever it is accepted. It gives us a reason to travel, and share our product with new people and cultures. Part of the adventure. We currently are very popular in the UK, and selling all over Europe as well as Japan, and Australia.
Sorry, but I have to: What is up with the Snuggie? Was it a parallel discovery, or was the Snuggie a blatant rip?
Anyone who does a decent investigation will see that we existed and received a lot of press before the Snuggie was even a faint idea. We began selling on QVC a couple years ago. We did very well, selling out just about every time. QVC and the world of infomercials exist in the same market.
This company watches QVC closely and takes products from their often. The QVC community has seen it before and was not surprised. If you watch one of our QVC pitches, you can see that the snuggie company basically copied and pasted what we said into a commercial format. It is a free country. No big deal. Some people have original ideas. Some people feed of those people. Part of existing in society. We move forward and stay true to our values of Quality, integrity, and customer service.
You’ve got the Slanket for kids, what’s next?
I can’t say here or now, but at least two Slanket related products and one new one.
What is your favorite non-Slanket related Web site?
Have you considered the carbon footprint implications of the Slanket in terms of people being able to turn down their thermostats by a couple of degrees during strategic months?
Actually, in that broad of a perspective, no. Obviously, we began using this as part of our pitch on QVC when my parents first told me that they did this in Maine. We were hoping to save people a few bucks, but you are right, with more and more people doing this, it actually could have a real impact. Very cool.