Melissa DuVall Explains the Idea Behind the Ponchairo

What started as an idea at a baseball game turned into a cozy, stylish and practical product.

By Jordan Blomquist

May 2024

Red Ponchairo,
Photos courtesy PonchairoPonchairos can be found for purchase on, on and at the Scheel’s location in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Problem

Have you ever been at a baseball game, an outdoor concert or a tailgate and panicked as the temperature dropped or it began to rain? Melissa DuVall experienced that too many times. As a sports mom, she attended her son’s baseball games in the afternoons. “Then we’d go into extra innings, and it would get chilly on me,” she says. She didn’t want to risk missing pivotal parts of the game by going back to her car to fetch a blanket. 

The Big Idea

DuVall created Ponchairo—a wearable, hooded blanket that is stored in a pouch on the back of an outdoor chair. “It’s the best of both worlds,” DuVall says. “You get a blanket, but it fits you like a poncho so it’s hands-free.” The fabric is buttery soft, windproof and waterproof. The business is on the underside of the blanket, lined with pockets to store hand warmers, phones, snacks, etc. 

The Learning Curve

Even with a great idea, inventing a product can come with doubt and uncertainty. When DuVall decided to make the jump and create her product, her first patent application was declined. “I had to make the decision then: Do I want to appeal?” she says. 

The Takeaway

DuVall took a chance on herself and her idea, opting to file a notice of appeal. It was successful and she secured the patent for Ponchairo. Running the business has become DuVall’s side hustle, as she still has a full-time biotech job. She has been marketing her product for two years now, and annual net sales are up 75% and their trade show sales are up 50%. Ponchairo is available on the Ponchairo website, to order from Scheels and at the Scheel’s location in Overland Park, Kansas.