Layton • The idea for an unusual, customized minky blanket shop began just after Sandi Hendry's daughter became ill.
Hendry wanted a super-soft blanket that her 27-year-old daughter could wrap herself in as she battled kidney failure.
The mother searched the Internet and ordered pink paisley minky, a silky polyester microfiber, and asked a women in Denver to sew it to a matched backing fabric and finish it with a cheery satin border. Because she had ordered in bulk, Hendry had so much leftover fabric that she asked a friend to stitch up more blankets.
The venture proved so popular that in June 2009, Hendry opened the Minky Couture shop in Layton. The next year she opened two more stores in Draper and St. George.
Sales have gone from 1,000 blankets for children and adults the first year in business to more than 10,000 annually.
Today, her daughter Shannon Miller has recovered and is teaching third grade in Cedar City. She liked her own minky so much that this Christmas she purchased a lap blanket for each of the 27 children in her class to cuddle up with on cool nights.
Hendry's stepson, a surgeon, understands the value of a plush blanket when someone isn't feeling well. He's given each of his post-operative patients a custom-ordered minky.
Shopper Stephanie Harris said she buys blankets as baby gifts, which in turn, brings in new customers who want larger sizes for themselves. Harris said she recently bought her husband a large blanket, a masculine black-on-black, "so he'd stop using mine."
Prices for ready-made blankets range from $20 for a small 10" x 18" minky to $110 for the monster 60" x 72" size. Internet prices vary.
Shoppers may customize their blankets, choosing their own styles, designs and embroidery work. Shops carry more than 40 fabrics, and with different colors of backing and satin edging, there's the possibility of thousands of customized creations.
Because blankets are polyester they wear well, but they also require a little extra care. They're washable, but settings should be cold or warm. Minkys can be tumbled in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes on a low setting. Hot temperatures or direct ironing can melt the fabric.
"Sewing the blankets can be tricky," said Jennifer Houston of West Haven, the seamstress who first stitched the bulk fabric Hendry had initially ordered.
The fabric is thick, but slippery. In addition, the raw salvage sheds, and must be individually vacuumed before the edges are finished off with satin pleats. Houston still sews the fabric, and she has trained all seamstresses.
About 40 women work at the three shops and the plant, located next to the Layton store. Seamstresses have the option of working at the plant or in their homes.
Karli Paxman of North Ogden sews blankets at home on Wednesdays and at the plant while her children are in school "because it's good to get out and work with the wonderful people here." And yes, all of her six children have minkys.
Shop owner Hendry said she could have shipped the fabric to sewing factories in China to cut some costs. But she's opted instead to hire local seamstresses who take great pains to individualize each minky.
"There's a lot of love, emotion and pride that go into every blanket," she said. "Our customers are getting something unique."
Minky Couture shops
Features • Custom-made blankets for children and adults
Hours • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Locations • Layton, 365 W. 1550 North, Suite B; Draper, 264 E. 12200 South Suite G; St. George, 720 S. River Road, Suite C115