ARTIST INTERVIEW: Pamela Hunter of Sheltered Co.

Company: Sheltered Co.

Artist: Pamela Hunter

Pamela Hunter is a mother of three and founder and creative director of Sheltered Co. When her middle daughter Ransom got diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, Pamela learned about the benefits of weighted blankets to soothe and calm the nervous system. As someone who loves to create with her hands, she set out to create a weighted blanket that would be therapeutic, breathable, beautiful, and sustainable. Sheltered Co. was born out of the pursuit of integrating beauty with functionality. Being wrapped in a Sheltered Co. blanket feels like receiving a giant hug after a long day.

Each Sheltered Co. blanket is woven by hand using approximately 70 yards of deadstock fabric which means each color is only available for a limited time.



Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. 
The first part of my journey started out when I became a single mother at 18. I’ve always championed the underdog and people in need so even when I was a single mom, I actually housed other single moms I knew until they could get back on their feet. That was my first taste of how important it is to have a community around you. I am still in contact with those women today and I have continued to surround myself with an amazing community of women and mothers. Soon, I found a job as a vocational trainer which allowed me to work with the differently abled. Who knew that I would eventually come to have a daughter of my own, Ransom, who would be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. That experience taught me so much and helped me to become a better mom and have a deeper understanding of how to relate to those with unique abilities. Another turning point was when I became a vintage buyer for American Rag where I learned about the beauty of vintage, deadstock and recycled goods. My boss at the time, Rudolph, taught me to find beauty in the imperfections and look for things that were unique and not like anything else. As you can see, everything I did played a part in helping me start Sheltered Co.!
What would you say is the driving force behind your creative work? 
Honestly, if I’m not doing something creative I don’t feel fulfilled. I specifically need to create with my hands and make things I can touch. I guess I’ve always been very tactile. I completely relate to my daughter Ransom in that way. As a kid, I used to go crazy if I wore anything itchy or a tag was poking me. I have also always been inspired by recycled materials and using things I had laying around. And of course, my daughter is the biggest driving force behind my work. Since she was a baby, she would cry from discomfort and overstimulation. In the mornings, she’d wake up screaming and overwhelmed and then every night she’d have trouble relaxing and going to sleep. It was desperate times, so I guess you could say it was a mix of my need to create with my hands and a deep search for something functional that could help my daughter.



How do you find a balance between practicality and beauty in your creations? 
It’s always been my aim to give Ransom tools that wouldn’t make her feel different and like she didn’t belong. I didn’t want her things to look out of place in our home, all clinical and sterile. I want her to be proud of who she is and feel like an equal part of the family. My challenge has always been to find functional and beautiful tools for my daughter to use. Many times, I couldn’t find it and that’s why I’ve made my own bean bags and crash pads and foam pit. I’ve even made my own rock climbing wall and different swings for her. So that balance between practicality and beauty is always what I strive for.


How do you define success in your art or craft, or alternately, what does failure mean to you? 
Failure, to me, is not even beginning. I had a period of depression before I launched. I saw all these other weighted blanket companies and the fear of starting something, risking something, was all-consuming. But I just counted on my community to talk me through all the most stressful moments and I did it even though nothing was perfect. I launched my website and began releasing blankets as I was going, knowing that my community would understand that I was learning and growing and they would learn and grow with me. I knew I had an amazing product so I didn’t stress over the website not being completely finished or a million tiny things that I knew could’ve been better. If I didn’t launch because I was too scared then I would’ve failed. I believe success alone is just starting. Just saying yes.



Do you have a daily working routine? Can you describe it? 
Routines are hard. My husband and I are in charge of different things in the morning. I take Story to daycare and I try to spend time with her every morning, since she’s my youngest and started daycare the soonest. I always tell her, “I get to go to work now,” because it’s a positive thing and give her the sense that I love what I do. Then I get a coffee and the act of pouring myself a cup of coffee signals that it’s “go” time. I take all phone calls in the car. Then I check in with everyone at the office. Then I go out and search for fabrics. Actually, before I even get out of bed and before I go to sleep, I return all social media messages and emails and try to make each response personal. I hope to make our customers feel how important they are to us. So much of their letters are heartfelt and vulnerable. They are writing about anxiety, depression, insomnia, autism, and stress. And I know people just want to be heard so I do my best to truly listen. I do put a cap on how much work I do in one day though since there’s always more that can be done. I try to leave things for the next day and aim for a balance.


Do you think community is important to creativity? If so, how? 
To me, community is the most important part of creativity. The creativity of some breathes life into others. It’s a bridge builder because all creators comes from different walks of life but through their various creative outlets, it shows that we are all so much more alike than we are different. Even for people who feel they’re not creative, I think that it just takes them coming across the right thing for them to get inspired and want to do things differently. I truly believe that everyone has something special to offer and even people who are doing the same type of thing that you’re doing, it’s not really a competition because there are going to be differences, not to mention the different stories behind each creative brand.  When we come to together to share and inspire, we can make our communities better.


Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
I grew up with both my parents working corporate type jobs but sometimes, when I would go downstairs at night, I would find my mom painting or making things for different craft fairs. When we’d go out, and we’d come across something that inspired her, a lot of times she would say, “I think I can make that,” and she would. She made her own window coverings once and I remember being so proud of them. That attitude has stuck with me. I have both my parents to thank for my work ethic but I really owe it to my mom for instilling a love for making things by hand. When a machine makes something everything turns out the same but the heart behind handmade things is what makes them special.



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