Celebrating Women! Meet Madeleine Hugo from The Cotton Co

Owner of luxury Turkish cotton company, The Cotton Co, tells us of her life, her inspirations, and lends a bit of advice for new business owners.

Madeleine HugoThe Cotton Company is the brainchild of Madeleine who fell in love with Turkish towels while living in Istanbul. Now, the company offers a lovely selection of elegant towels, throws and blankets that have been designed with a South African aesthetic in mind. One of their newest offerings, the bohemian handwoven blanket, is made with pure cotton and is available in midnight blue, plum, dusty rose, sapphire, salmon, and more.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
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 are you most proud of?
Surviving 2020!! Ha-ha! I’m proud of learning and loving every day.

What does power mean to you? Do you consider yourself an ‘influencer’?
I would like to think that we brought the Turkish towel trend to South Africa, or at least made it more accessible. I often experience ‘imposter syndrome’, but then remind myself that what I do, I do for myself. It’s my creative outlet that I love sharing with everybody else – and the response has been more incredible than what I could have ever imagined. I like using our platform to support other local businesses, so I’m not an influencer, but a sharer (if that is even a word).

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give someone that’s looking at starting their own business/new business owners?
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!

Who are your role models?
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.

When I grow up I want to be…
A Olympic canoeist – I have a thing for canoeing and in my mind that is my ultimate thing to do. I’m planning to join our local canoe club this summer.

What are your aspirations for the future?
Except to travel the world…to build a brand that is recognised and trusted and to leave a legacy for my daughter. I want my daughter to see that anything is possible. That your job can be your passion.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Our products are so special and I can tell you exactly who made each and every piece. I love sharing the story behind our products. Maybe one day I’ll do a special trip and take you with to meet the artisans behind our product. Who’s in?

How/where can people get hold of you?
Our showroom is in Paarl, Cape Town 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.