North Alabama Crop Inspires Father, Daughter to Create Line of Heirloom Linens

 Mark Yeager pioneered Red Land Farms, based in Lawrence County, in the early 1980s. Since then, he’s expanded the farm to include cotton, cattle, corn and now,  Red Land Cotton .

Mark Yeager pioneered Red Land Farms, based in Lawrence County, in the early 1980s. Since then, he’s expanded the farm to include cotton, cattle, corn and now, Red Land Cotton.

Story published in This is Alabama

Moments before a summer rain barrels through, Mark Yeager pauses to survey his crop. Peaking from under the brim of his hat, he looks over rows of pillowy white cotton stretching several acres.

“They have no idea winter’s knocking on their door,” Mark said, his accent as thick as the humidity. Soon the cotton will be picked and shipped off to become “some of the softest sheets you’ve ever slept on,” the long-time farmer said. He credits this to “that Lawrence County dew” that settles on the plant, giving it that special something.

Mark, who owns Red Land Farms in Moulton, Alabama, recently teamed with his daughter, Anna Yeager Brakerfield, to form Red Land Cotton. The venture was founded on a simple concept — to make heirloom-inspired bedsheets designed to last. Anna said in many ways, social media catalyzed the idea.

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After Mark posted a photo on Instagram of cotton fresh from the gin, his sister asked if she could get sheets made out of “that good lookin’ North Alabama cotton,” Anna said. The comment piqued Mark’s business savvy.

At that time, Anna was working in advertising in Nashville. She’d previously worked in New York — wanting to experience something outside her upbringing. It didn’t take long, however, for home to beckon.

“Dad knew I wasn’t really happy. He knew I wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted to do creatively,” Anna said. “So he approached me with this idea — he asked if he thought we could do this, if we could sell our own bedsheets.”

And that’s when the research began.

Because there are few looms left in the country suitable for weaving wide-cloth sheets, Anna and Mark had to do some legwork to see who could take their homegrown cotton and turn it into the product they envisioned.

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“That was really key to our success, to have those other small businesses help us out,” Anna said.

As for the bedsheets’ design, that was all found locally. Mark was adamant on creating sheets that felt like the one’s he grew up with — heavy and durable, yet soft and comfortable. They commissioned the county’s best — a few church ladies — to weigh in on the matter. One of those women, Anna said, happened to have three Rubber- maid containers filled with old bedding.

“I’m talking beautiful, hand-done, tatted lace, hem-stitched bedding,” Anna said.

It was exactly what Mark and Anna were looking for.

Soon after, Red Land Cotton came out with its inaugural bedding, which was reverently named Madeline Gray after the late owner of the original heirloom linens.

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The line that followed, “Red Land Cotton Classic,” boasts small ecks of Lawrence County leaves and stems, making each set truly one of a kind.

“Even after the cotton has been picked, ginned, spun and woven, those pieces still remain in the fabric until you bleach it,” Anna said. “I wanted people to have the option to hold a piece of fabric that is as close to the plant as possible.”

After all, Anna said, it all comes back to the land — the red soil that makes it all happen.

“This is home,” she said.