The supply chain for our organic cotton fabrics has seen its share of fluctuations over the years. In 2006, we had trouble getting any organic cotton jersey fabric that utilized US-grown cotton. In 2013, we had a low supply of lightweight jersey due to quality issues with the yarn. During the summer of 2016 and after over 20 years of operation, the dye house we worked in North Carolina with closed, leaving us with higher minimums required for ordering and a big decision to streamline our fabric color offerings. For a small business, this was a huge shift and one that we are still adjusting to.
If you’ve purchased medium-weight fabric yardage from us over the last year, you may have noticed that some colors have been backordered. We are (always) working to carefully balance out our color shipments. We appreciate your patience as we’ve continued to learn from this change in our supply chain and fine-tune the process. Since our 100% US-grown organic supply chain is a rare find, we encourage you to always get your fabric and garment orders in soon as you’ve decided—and to always order enough to complete your entire project.
To learn more about the state of our US-grown cotton, we spoke to Kelly Pepper, Marketing Director of the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative. The TOCMC is a group of farmers who grows the cotton for our medium-weight jersey, canvas, and waffle fabrics. Kelly helped us understand recent changes in our supply and prices.
[Cotton] production is always going to be weather dependent, and last year’s cotton crop produced a lower yield as compared to the previous year. This was due to dry planting conditions, which resulted in not optimal soil moisture and a later planting. Farmers depend on rainfall to create base soil moisture and last winter and spring were dry. After a struggle to get fields planted on time, the summer was also cooler than normal. Cotton needs the heat of a Lubbock, Texas summer to maximize yield.
While Kelly said last year’s yield is not terrible, it was a little disappointing and below their expectations.
We also talked about the rise in the demand for organic cotton that has taken place in the last few years. Kelly said they went from having too much cotton to being concerned about not having enough.
A higher demand combined with a lower yield is the perfect storm for a price increase. While this has big implications for our business, fair pricing encourages growth for the farmers, the market, and the industry. We are happy that more businesses (and, in turn, consumers) are interested in making, wearing, and integrating organic fabrics into their lives. That’s a big win in our books. We hope that this means more production for the TOCMC and more consumers buying organic.
Organic cotton is the foundation of our business. We carefully choose our materials and look for the highest quality. It’s not the easiest, fastest, or cheapest way—but it’s the right way. We have a commitment to quality and a commitment to organic to enrich others’ lives and leave this planet better than before us.
Visit the Supply Chain section of our website for a closer look at each step in our process—from seed-to-shelf.
And immense gratitude to the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Co-op, including all the farmers, and Kelly Pepper for doing the hard work.
P.S.: With every fabric delivery, we receive an organic cotton transaction certificate that validates the organic certification and lists the origin of the cotton that we are able to trace the bale to the farm it was grown.