Kids always dream big. Some want to be doctors. Some want to be President. Farm kids generally want to be farmers.
Occasionally, farm kids also want to go into the clothing business.
Meet Terrell Jones of Lumpkin, GA – cotton farmer by trade and clothing manufacturer and retailer by choice. Three years ago, he established Jones American Clothing to create 100 percent U.S. (and Georgia) made shirts exclusively using the cotton grown on his farm.
“I had a mentality growing up that I always wanted something made from my cotton,” he explained. “Since I was a little kid, I just thought that would be so awesome.” So, as he was finishing his degree in diversified agriculture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in 2011, he figured it was time to give his dream a go.
“I started with a Blackberry phone and a small checkbook,” he said. “It took quite a while to line up and coordinate the spinner, knitter and assembling plant. All told, it took about 18 months from the time I started until I actually had a finished t-shirt in my hand.”
Today, his business is doing well. Jones American Clothing markets “straight off the farm” t-shirts and polo shirts via a website (www.jonesamericanclothing.com), selected retailers in Georgia and at special events like the Sunbelt Expo. His prices are market competitive, and he does offer wholesale options for screen printers and other groups.
Jones is thankful for the support his venture has received. But he’s quick to point out that he’s still a cotton farmer first. “The shirt business is night time and weekends,” he said.
He currently grows 300-to-500 acres of cotton, depending on his rotation schedule with corn and peanuts, and his choice of cotton varieties varies (PHY 499 WRF for the past two seasons). Only a certain percentage of his cotton goes to the clothing business. The rest of the crop is contracted or sold on the cash market.
To date, Jones is pleased with his dream and with the return on his investment. “The biggest thing I have to keep in mind is that the clothing business is long term,” he stated. “It’s hard for a farmer to not sell cotton for what it costs to produce it. I walk a fine line regarding the amount of cotton that I ‘steal’ from myself every year, because it’s going to be six-to-eight months before I have a return.”