Fields of snow—that’s an apt description of the scenic display when South Carolina’s cotton crops are nearing harvest. Around late September, the cotton bolls yawn and pop, creating a showy agricultural spectacle that seems to unfurl for acres and acres.
For Tracy and Ty Woodard, the sight of healthy, ripe cotton conjures images of the fine baby blankets, hand towels and throws they create through their business, Covered in Cotton. Made from the high-quality upland cotton grown on their 4,000-acre Darlington County farm, the woven goods reflect a classic, simple beauty that makes them just right for both everyday use and elegant gift-giving. And when you give a gift from Covered in Cotton, you are sharing something distinctively Southern.
“These days, it’s very rare to find a cotton product that has been grown and made here in the USA,” Tracy said. “Our 100-percent cotton products are locally grown on our family farm and crafted exclusively in the Carolinas. We can trace the cotton used in our products directly back to not just the field it was grown in, but also through each local business we partner with along its journey to a high-quality, finished product.”
After the cotton is harvested in Darlington, it is hauled to Hartsville for processing at S.P. Coker Cotton Gin. The ginned cotton is then taken to Thomasville, NC, where it undergoes the metamorphosis from cotton ball to yarn at Hill Spinning. The yarn is plied in Hickory, NC, at Shuford Mills, before making the return journey to South Carolina where it is woven into fabric at Weavetec in Blacksburg. Then, it’s off to Craig Industries in Lamar to be hand-cut and stitched into the finished products. By the time the linens arrive back to the farm in Darlington for packaging and shipping to customers, the cotton has made a 500-mile, round-trip journey through the Carolinas.
Keeping it local and a commitment to producing a high-quality product helped earn Covered in Cotton products the top spot in Garden & Gun’s “Made in the South” awards for 2019—not bad for a company that is little more than a year old. The human-interest story behind the genesis of the enterprise is also worthy of attention. After three generations of the Woodard family farming their land, Tracy and Ty began daydreaming of ways to make their livelihood a more meaningful endeavor.
“We've always had a heart for our family farm to cultivate something lasting and produce a harvest that impacts families beyond our fields,” Tracy said. “In December 2017, I actually woke up from a dream with a vision for Covered in Cotton. I woke up that morning and scribbled everything I felt the Lord had shown me in a notebook, which I then shared with Ty. Without hesitation, Ty said ‘Let’s do it.’”
In conjunction with their new business, the couple established a charitable arm through which they donate one blanket to a South Carolina children’s hospital for every 10 blankets sold.
“Our ‘Cotton with a Cause’ was born from our own story of our youngest son, Tobin, fighting for his life through bacterial meningitis and emergency brain surgery when he was 3 months old,” Tracy explained. “During our long stay in the hospital, a nurse gave our family the gift of a blanket, which provided comfort and warmth, but also a reminder of the Lord's protection and provision to our family during that difficult time. Our hope is to share that comfort with other families in a similar season.”