Children see the world as a playground without borders.
Cardboard boxes become spaceships, bed sheets become living room forts and dishes become racecar steering wheels.
It’s a way of seeing the world that Ryan Flaim — the mother of two boys, ages 3 and 2 — understands well. And it’s how Ryder Gordon Brown, Flaim’s late nephew and godson, lived the three short years of his life.
In honor of Ryder — who passed away on Jan. 18, 2015 from complications of pneumonia at Boston Children’s Hospital — Flaim created Orange Lining, a children’s accessories company aimed at fostering imagination while offering constant comfort.
Each moment of youthful creativity nurtured by its products is yet another moment commemorating her nephew’s sparkling spirit.
“I knew I wanted to do something to keep Ryder’s spirit alive, to remind people that time is precious, that every day is a gift and to encourage kids to run outside and play,” Flaim says, “and to give kids the means to celebrate every magical moment and to do it together with them.”
FIT FOR HEROES
Flaim — a New Rochelle native who lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a coastal town between Boston and Cape Cod — was initially brainstorming designs for multicolored, stimulating children’s blankets. This quickly transformed into the concept of capes — namely, superhero capes. Now coined the “HeroBlanket,” this multipurpose cape is made to grow with the child.
“I see how attached my own kids are to their blankies,” Flaim says. “If you give a child this blanket when they’re born, it becomes a source of comfort and safety. And, as they grow up, it becomes a source of inspiration and adventure. It just fits so squarely.”
To ensure comfort, Flaim uses quality materials to meet both kids’ needs and parents’ preferences. The blankets — which are made in the United States — are available in a quilted, double-gauze fabric, as well as minky, a cuddle-soft material, and muslin, a featherweight cloth.
As a parent, Flaim’s chief concern is safety. In order to “stay true to the blanket, while allowing it to be safe,” she created a patent-pending design that uses Velcro closure tabs to provide a quick release.
“Kids can very easily pull off the cape, because it’s attached with Velcro,” she says. “And because of that design, it also has a lot of functionality.”
It’s this functionality that Flaim refers to as “heroically versatile, from a mom’s point of view.” Not only is the blanket made to function as a cape, but it’s also a nursing cover for mom and a tummy-time mat for babies. Due to the Velcro-fastening capabilities, it can also be attached to strollers as a partial sunshade or as a secured, “no-drop” blanket for babies who tend to kick their legs. Or, it can simply be hung as wall décor (26 inches wide).
The blankets may accommodate children up to age 10 — and beyond — but Flaim also created a petite collection for newborns (23 inches wide). Available in two styles — Find Your Will (blue and gray) and Find Your Way (pink and gray) — they feature an adorable combination of arrows on the front with gingham on the back, fitted to accommodate children up to ages 4 or 5.
Just like Orange Lining, its name also has a story.
“The blue blanket (Find Your Will) is named after my friend Danielle’s baby, who was born earlier in the summer and unknowingly had a heart condition and had to have open heart surgery. They named him Will.”
(Will, who is now 4 months old, is doing great, Flaim says.)
With each blanket, she offers the option to purchase a crown as a bundled set. Because no superhero’s outfit is complete without the prince or princess hat, especially on his or her special day.
“That’s actually what my mom used to do for Robby, Allie and I on our birthdays,” Flaim says, explaining a childhood memory of her and her siblings beaming in their homemade hats.
And to further personalize the blankets — and make each child feel uniquely special — there is a monogramming option available for all products.
FOREVER SHINING BRIGHT
The concept behind the company’s branding came from none other than Ryder’s favorite color — orange. For Ryder’s family, it was a color that came to represent messages of hope, from “beautiful brightness,” Flaim says, “to the sunrise and the sunset,” to “light and imagination.”
“When Ryder passed away, it just became a sea of orange,” she says. “There was so much about that color that just fit Ryder and the need that we had.”
Not only is orange incorporated into the company’s name and logo, but the products as well, as many of the blankets’ interiors are orange.
Then came the concept of the silver lining. Through a conversation with Flaim’s brother, the siblings discussed this germane idea of finding hope in challenging circumstances. And so Orange Lining was formed.
“Ryder’s passing was tragic and just a terrible moment in time that’ll never go away for our family,” Flaim says. “For me, personally, it really put into perspective just how precious life is, how difficult it can be at times and how you’re not always in control of that, but you’re in control of trying to find the light, no matter how dark the day is.”
For the holiday season, Orange Lining will feature the “Deluxebury” collection — playfully named after Flaim’s town —which includes super soft blankets in minky and brushed suede, available in red or gray.