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From left, Josh Stewart, Bryan Simpson and Dane Watts don the Big Blanket Co.’s signature product.
Photo provided by Big Blanket Co.
From left, Josh Stewart, Bryan Simpson and Dane Watts don the Big Blanket Co.’s signature product.

Local entrepreneurs quickly surpass Kickstarter goal for ‘biggest, best blanket ever’

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Two local entrepreneurs are partnering with two professional basketball players on a company designed to bring to market “the biggest, best blanket ever.”

That’s the slogan used for a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign launched yesterday by Big Blanket Co., the brainchild of Bryan Simpson, Josh Stewart, Dane Watts and Anthony Tolliver.

Within eight hours, the Kickstarter hit its $10,000 goal, Simpson said. As of 11:40 a.m., it had raised $12,262, which he said equates to some 100 blankets sold. The campaign has 52 days to go, and Simpson said “$75,000 to $100,000 would be awesome. We’d be thrilled at that.”

Simpson and Stewart work together at Springfield marketing firm Hook Creative LLC, where Simpson is chief operations officer and Stewart is CEO and founder. Simpson said he knew Minnesota Timberwolves player and Springfield native Tolliver from high school, and Watts is a former teammate of Tolliver’s at Creighton University who played professionally overseas. On the Kickstarter page, Simpson is listed as CEO, with Stewart as creative director, Watts as director of operations and Tolliver as “tall guy.” All are founding business partners of Big Blanket Co.

Simpson, who also founded and then sold Five Pound Apparel LLC, said about a year ago, he came up with the idea when shopping for a throw blanket. He realized existing products didn’t cover his head and toes.

“Obviously, the original idea was to make a really big blanket,” said Simpson, noting he and Stewart are continuing as employees for Hook Creative while also working on Big Blanket Co. “I had a gut feeling that people would hook onto it and it would resonate with them.”

About six months ago, the business partners “went all in” on the idea and began traveling to test products and come up with the design. They found a manufacturing partner in China Simpson declined to name. What resulted is a 10-foot-tall by 10-foot-wide polyester and spandex blanket that has “moisture-wicking qualities” and is “super thick but it’s dense so it keeps you warm but you never feel hot,” Simpson said.

“It’s really similar to yoga pants or performance materials,” he said.

Customers can purchase the blankets at an “super early-bird” price of $129. It will retail at $209 online, Simpson said, noting retailers have expressed interest in carrying the product but no contracts have been signed.

“The goal would be definitely in the future to sell wholesale,” he said. “For the time being, what we want to do is gauge the reaction before we make any longer term commitments.”

Simpson said he’d be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, though Watts was hired to run it full-time. The crew also brought on Springfield comedian and “The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton for a promotional video advertising the Kickstarter.

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