Business Spotlight Old South Expands by design

How did this business get started? “I started by designing my first clothing brand, River Boys and River Girls, when I was still in high school,” said Tyler Hair, who grew up in Linden and Eastover, where he attended Cape Fear High School. Hair founded Cotton River Outfitters in 2017 and opened a store on Russell Street. “We are expanding our business and have added a second store location on Hay Street,” he said. “We also changed our name to Cotton River and Company. We sell our own products that Cotton River produces, and carry other Southern brands of clothing, as well. We hope to leave a mark and a little bit of history here in Fayetteville,” he said. Hair’s partner in business, and in life, is Kayla Myhre. Between them they have designed and developed multiple brands of clothing that include Old South Apparel, Cotton River and Sew Southern Designs.

Why did you choose this business? “In high school I sold clothing that I designed to other students. We have grown and developed other brands since then.”

How has the business grown or changed? “We now carry at least 45 different store brands besides our own. With the opening of Cotton River and Company on Hay Street, our Russell Street location, which opened last year, will be used specifically for our Old South brand in the future. It is also used as office space and as a warehouse.”

“I also learned about digital film-making through my work with the Fayetteville Community Church, and I went to school for it. It has enabled us to produce our own commercials and clips so we don’t have to outsource everything we do.”

How has the economy affected business? “We’ve seen changes in the way people are buying, and in how the online presence of shoppers has grown. Customers can now place orders online and pick up orders in the store.”

When is your busiest time? “We are most busy around Christmastime. We also participate in the annual Holly Day Fair at the Crown Expo Center in Fayetteville. From January through March, we are busy presenting our brands to markets in Charlotte, Dallas and in Atlanta. We own our own store, but we also sell wholesale to other retail outlets, in at least 250 stores throughout the South.”

What is your most popular product? “We carry a lot of Southern clothing brands such as Crazy Cool Threads and Jarrett Bay. We have also developed our own product lines, Old South Apparel and Cotton River, which are popular. The trucker hats are especially good sellers. We sell 2,000 hats per month, online and from the store. We also sell on Amazon and on eBay. Some of our other products include graphic T-shirts, button-down shirts and shorts. Kayla developed Sew Southern Designs, a line of clothing and accessories for women, which includes jewelry, dresses, tops and cosmetic bags.”

“Some of our popular gift products include Moonshine and Bluegrass Soaps, the “Fay” unstructured hat, and the True North stainless steel water bottles, beer mugs and margarita tumblers.”

Who are key employees? “Kayla Myhre keeps me straight. She is my partner in everything. Employee Tori Board makes all of our crazy ideas happen. She is our assistant, inside sales rep and customer service representative.”

Do you have a vision for the future of your business that you want to share? “We want to continue to develop the Old South and Cotton River brands locally, here in Fayetteville, and also increase our online presence. We will continue to add more products, such as pants, and a leather line. We may also add more locations as we grow.”

What is the best part of owning this business? “One of the best parts is having the freedom to do what I want to do. I also enjoy meeting people and traveling for work. I enjoy leading, developing our creative vision, and working with a team to make that vision a reality.”

What is most challenging about running the business? “When you own a business you have to wear a lot of different hats by filling different roles, which is challenging. I manage, design, handle accounts payable, act as a general contractor for our new store, and run a business.”

Is there anything else you want people to know? “We are excited to be part of Fayetteville’s downtown. The grand opening for our new store at 101 Hay St. (near the Market House) will be on Friday, Oct. 19, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. We will be giving away refreshments and a $100 gift card raffle. Anyone who makes a store purchase is eligible to enter. There will also be a mystery gift card worth $5 to $50 for the first 25 people in line.”

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