Cotton Co-Op to Brand Calcot Towels
By Michele SanFilippo -- Home Textiles Today, 12/5/2005 12:00:00 AM
Bakersfield, Calif. — —
Bakersfield, Calif. — Calcot, a 1,200-member cooperative of Southwestern cotton growers founded in 1927, recently launched two solid color towel lines of domestically grown cotton manufactured in Pakistan with the aim of branding the Calcot name and end-product directly to the consumer: “From our Fields to Your Home.”
Both lines are made primarily of Pima cotton with Supima cotton loops. The Grower's Collection is a $19.99 zero-twist 30-by-56 bath towel in eight muted tones. The All American Cotton line with a nine-hue fashion palette for $14.99 bath. In addition, Calcot has started offering embroidered towels on bath and hand sizes in the last month.
Each collection targets department stores, catalogs and online retailers as well as corporate giveaways. Bath, hand and washcloth hangtags reflect the farmer's market theme with a thank you from an individual Calcot-member cotton grower.
“We are trying to bring this new concept into the mainstream so that American cotton growers can still participate in their livelihood in a sustainable way,” described Bert Wouters, manager of Calcot's towel project and president of BCW Consulting, a business development and grant-writing firm. He added that the cooperative is trying to be as eco-friendly as financially possible throughout the various stages of growing and production.
Phase two of the project currently involves working in five channels of distribution: a national sales rep force, an internal grower's sales program, a direct-mail catalog, a catalog sent to the hospitality trade and corporate promotions. Calcot also has an overseas distributor in Moscow and is negotiating with another distributor in Lebanon.
On the horizon are such initiatives as a direct-mail program targeting a network of 14,000 bath and gift boutiques as well as smaller chains. Plus the cooperative will begin working with the Army/Airforce Exchange's network of 150 main stores on bases worldwide early next year and start national/regional advertising in early 2006. It also plans to work with other agricultural cooperatives as well as nonprofits, supermarkets and drugstores chains.
Approximately 75 percent of Calcot's extra long staple cotton is grown in California's San Joaquin Valley, with the remainder coming from Arizona and Texas. About 98 percent of the raw cotton is exported to China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh; the rest is sold to the U.S. textiles market. Calcot's annual revenues exceed $500 million and the cooperative has 8 million square feet of warehousing with 145 locations in three states.
Calcot's Web site is currently informational, but a booking engine will be added shortly.
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