It’s cotton pickin’ time in north Alabama

MOULTON, Ala. - Drive across the Tennessee Valley, and you can't help but notice this year's cotton crop is ready to be harvested. And for one Lawrence county family, it's their favorite time of the year. “Amen,” Mark Yeager said with a smile. “It’s a good time.” And for more reasons than one. “We are blessed,” the third generation farmer told me. “I think we're going to make somewhere between 900 and a thousand pounds per acre which is nearly two bales per acre.”

We first visited Mark Yeager and his family in May. They were busy planting 4,300 acres in cotton. “I think Alabama can grow some of the best cotton around,” Mark said then. They used some of that home grown cotton to launch a new family business after his daughter introduced him to social media.

“Anna got me hooked up on Instagram,” Mark recalled with a smile. After he sent a video of a fork lift hauling cotton at the gin to his sister in Dallas. “She sent me back a message saying oh, I wish I had some sheets made out of that good looking Alabama cotton,” Mark remembers.

Mark and Anna did some research and “Red Land Cotton” was born. “We're getting orders from all across the country,” Anna told us as she was packing an order in a box. They started shipping sheets made from the cotton they’d grown. “We really hit the ground running and haven't really stopped since,” Anna said.

They wanted a product to take people back to a simpler time. “We searched for a while and eventually found an old 1920's bed sheet,” Anna told us. They recreated the sheets our grandparents slept on. “We’re just going back to what was old and good,” she said.

Online shoppers loved them! “The sheet business and the towel business is just growing really good,” Mark said. The RLC product line is growing. “People love them and I am happy about it,” Mark said with a smile. “I feel blessed.”

While the business started with sheets and pillow cases, they now used that north Alabama cotton to make bath towels, duvets, shams and pillow covers. “We're really trying to give an offering to anybody who wants a little bit of Lawrence County in their home,” Anna said.

And business is so good, they opened a store on the square in downtown Moulton recently. “They can come in and touch and feel the product,” Anna told us after cutting a ribbon for the grand opening. “It’s a relationship you can't have with just an online business.”

Those online orders are now packed and shipped from the store rather than at Mark’s office at the gin. But what really makes Anna proud is they’re putting paychecks into the pockets of some locals. “We've been able to create some jobs and get people growing in this textile work again,” she said proudly. A group of ladies cuts, sews and puts the finishing touches on the RLC products just a few blocks away from the store in downtown.

”It just takes people working hard and believing in a dream,” Anna said. When I asked her if her dream was coming true, she smiled and said, “I think so and it's not a dream that I thought I was going to have by any means but we're here and I'm loving every minute of it.”

And in case you’re wondering, Mark did a little arithmetic and figured one 500 pound bale of cotton will produce about 65 sets of king size sheets. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re walking in high cotton. “It is a good time,” Mark said. “I love cotton picking time of year.”