Plain Tiger Spotlight: The Cotton Company 

From Istanbul to the world

By Jana Leonard

Madeleine fell in love with Turkish towels during the time she and her family lived in Istanbul. A highlight of her stay was an extraordinary road trip through the Turkish countryside where she met a family of authentic Turkish towel weavers. To experience their legendary hospitality was humbling in countless ways. Here, over meals of chickpea stew and Çay tea, they discovered a shared love of family, food and life’s simple pleasures. “Everything there is about slow living and doing things together as a family, from picking vegetables to cooking and eating together,” says Madeleine. 

“Their warmth is woven into the fabric of everything they do. Hand crafting is very important to them. For example, the fringes of each and every towel is hand tied.” she adds. 

Madeleine is a wife, mom and entrepreneur who has seen her hand on an array of ventures - each one offering new lessons, joys and hardships. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur! I’ve had a couple of smaller businesses before…an olive business sourcing olive products from the Karoo, selling it at markets and to retailers. Following with a vintage frame business which taught me about business and how to work (really) hard!” she adds. 


She has learned a lot along the way. “Before we settled in Paarl (South Africa), l lived in Ireland, Germany, England and Turkey. The Cotton Company was born in Istanbul, home to the best Turkish cotton and amazing artisan weavers. When we moved back to South Africa, I had to bring this energy with me in the shape of Turkish Towels, which I now share with the world.” says Madeleine. 


Since their inception 4 years ago, Madeleine has never looked back, always adding new products to their collection of impeccable design and Turkish Cotton offerings. They have recently added their 100% Turkish Cotton gown (with a personalisation option) as well as their Bohemian throw - both of which have been incredibly well received.

Her focus for The Cotton Company is simple: to create beautiful, timeless products that not only adds beauty to your lifestyle but functionality. She has crafted an unique space for her brand within this category, always keeping her market and client in mind. She says she always consults her family when making decisions and bringing in new designs. “My husband is the realist and gets me to see the other side of things, everyone knows how creatives like to dream! Haha! My daughter is a teenager with the best sense of style and I always run new colours and designs past her to get the young, cool, stamp of approval.” she adds, laughing. 


When it comes to sustainability and small batch production, Madeleine loves to share that 100% Turkish cotton is incredibly eco-friendly as it is compact, absorbent and dries really quickly so you don’t need a lot of water when washing it and just some good old sunshine to dry it. What makes it even more unique is that it has an array of uses. The lightweight practicality of these Turkish towels see them going from the bathroom to the beach, to the dining table and onto the body. A big part of Turkish life, hammam towels are often still woven in the country using traditional methods.


Madeleine adds that they have big plans for 2022, focussing on design and product development for the international market. 

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