Madeleine Hugo The Cotton Company

Celebrating Women: Madeleine Hugo – Founder of The Cotton Company

Tell us a bit about yourself, your career and what you’re busy with right now?
My name is Madeleine, mommy to Grace and many furry kids. Before we settled in Paarl, 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. I have never looked back – we are always adding to our collection of impeccable design and Turkish Cotton offerings and look forward to the next season! We have just released our latest version of our beautiful Bohemian Throw and it has been incredibly well received. We’re excited!

What has been your biggest challenge/lesson in business and life, in general?
My Biggest challenge has to be logistics. I am a dreamer, so learning to be patient with the process of getting the finished product into the showroom has always been a big challenge for me. My team keeps me grounded and ensures we stick to deadlines before we release.
My biggest lesson by far has to be to have a work/family/life balance. One cannot survive without the other!

Who is/was your role model?
Business wise I listen to podcasts all the time and I see each and every entrepreneur as my role model. I take a little bit of advice from everybody and use that in my life. My dad was an entrepreneur and he always looked for opportunities. He died a few years ago and I have a blue chair in my office that he used to have in his office. I still sit on it when I need to make important decisions. He was and is my biggest role model.

The Cotton Co

As an entrepreneur and business owner, what has been the one piece of advice you have received which you would like to pass on to the person reading this right now?
JUST START! I get so excited when people want to start their own business. My advice is to create an Instagram profile, take INCREDIBLE images of your products and then go at your own pace… but the secret is to actually start. From there you build your business. Share your products with influencers, get a great PR on board who understands your products (and love them as much as you do) and spread the word as wide as possible. You may not get the feedback immediately but you will be seen and you will see your business grow from strength to strength!

What are you most proud of?
I am incredibly proud of myself!
I’ve grown The Cotton Company to a name people now recognize, and to this day, that still blows my mind.
However I am most proud of the lessons I’ve learned along the way and the amazing people I’ve met on my journey.

What is the one thing you know now, which you would tell your 16-year-old self, and why?
Be confident and work hard. You can do it girl!! Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Put in the work, and the rest will fall in place – maybe not today, tomorrow or in 2 years, but it will happen.

Guilty pleasure?
When my husband travels for business, my daughter and I love to cuddle up and watch Stranger Things. When I’m alone, my absolute guilty pleasure (other than drinking Okja right out of the carton) is watching Housewives of New York or OC while eating chocolate covered peanuts.

Where can people get hold of you?
Our showroom is in Paarl and is open by appointment. Don’t be scared, email me and make that appointment. I will show you all our collections and will talk your ears off by telling you about the families that weave these amazing products. We also have a reject shelf in our showroom with marked down items. This is a good reason to visit and find that bargain!