By Cyndie Shearing
Ty and Tracy Woodard, owners of online retail business Covered in Cotton, prioritize giving back to their local community. Giving back is so important to them that they made it part of the company’s business plan.
The Woodards cultivate and craft 100% locally grown cotton products – throw blankets, baby blankets and hand towels – made exclusively from cotton grown on the family’s third-generation family farm in Darlington, South Carolina. They donate one throw blanket to a South Carolina children’s hospital for every 10 sold, through their “Cotton with a Cause” program. To date, they have donated 365 throws.
“Cotton with a Cause” sprang from the couple’s experience in 2015 when their 3-month-old son Tobin was fighting for his life in the hospital after contracting bacterial meningitis and going through emergency brain surgery. During their long stay in the hospital, a nurse gave the family a gift of a blanket. “This provided comfort and warmth, but also a reminder of the Lord’s protection and provision to our family during that difficult time,” Tracy said.
Since then, Tobin and the new business launched by his parents are both thriving.
Online retail sales have been the key to the success of Covered in Cotton, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Tracy. They were able to increase inventory and continue investing in the local rural economy, providing work for supply chain partners.
A key benefit of offering a unique, value-added agricultural product soon became apparent.
“We are able to set profitable margins for our cotton products, rather than being dependent on uncertain commodity markets,” she said.
Taking the time to share their farming story in a meaningful way is also important to the Woodards.
“It’s an opportunity to connect consumers with the journey of a cotton product – from the seed planted in the ground to the finished product in their hands – every step along the way,” Tracy explained. “We believe we can make a difference in our local rural communities and our country as a whole by committing to grow and make our cotton products exclusively in the U.S.”
The ability to trace the cotton used in the products they sell back to the field where it was grown, along with each local business in the production chain, sets the company apart.
Looking to the future, the Woodards are considering the addition of new products to their line of cotton textiles and partnering with other family farms on business ventures.
Ty and Tracy Woodard are Farm Bureau members in South Carolina. Covered in Cotton was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship. The company was also recognized as “Made in the South Overall Winner” by Garden & Gun Magazine in November 2019.
Cyndie Shearing is a director of communciations at the American Farm Bureau Federation.