Triangle Business Journal
By Dane Huffman – Managing Editor, Triangle Business Journal
Dec 3, 2021, 6:00am EST
UNC-Chapel Hill gave a Charlotte mom with a bright idea a big break in 2018, when the school’s licensing department approved her product.
Years before, Lana Truong sent her son off to the University of Southern California and went looking for a comfortable, fun blanket in USC colors.
She found some products for girls but nothing that was right for a boy.
“That was when my mind started noodling and everything started to come together,” she says.
Truong created a soft, two-sided blanket that is 60 inches by 80 inches, so it can be used on a bed or to hang out on a sofa. Appalachian State University agreed to let her use its university logo in 2017 and Carolina followed in 2018.
“I made a mock blanket and they just felt the quality and really liked it,” she says of her pitch to UNC. “I was very small and was like, ‘Give me a chance, I’ll do you proud.’”
Her company, Dormitory 101, now has 12 schools — including N.C. State, Duke, Harvard and Princeton universities — and East Carolina University is on the way. And she’s one of many small businesses sharing their wares at the Shopping Spree by the Junior League of Raleigh at the N.C. State Fairgrounds Dec. 2-5.
Truong says sales this year are just under 1,000 blankets, driven by online sales. Getting to that point hasn’t been easy for Truong, who had no business experience. “Many mistakes have been made,” she says.
But Dormitory 101 is viable and growing as she adds help.
“I want to empower women,” says Truong, noting that there are many women like her who gave up careers to raise children.
“We know so much from raising our family, and we have a lot of value to add to society."