The Cotton Board is governed by its membership, which consists of both cotton producers and cotton importers. Importers serving on The Cotton Board represent various major U.S. brands and retailers – significant downstream users of cotton. The producers serving on The Cotton Board represent their respective state in the U.S. Cotton Belt. Together, these segments of the Board represent a wealth of unique perspectives and insight that help guide The Cotton Research and Promotion Program.
This year, The Cotton Board’s chairman is Janet Ydavoy, an importer from Portsmouth, N.H. Ms. Ydavoy is currently the senior director of supply chain for Garnet Hill, a brand dedicated to using cotton and other natural fibers to make high-quality clothing, bedding and home decor. She has more than 30 years experience in international trade, importing, sourcing, production, product development, customs and trade compliance, and has been a licensed U.S. Customs broker since 1994.
From her unique perspective as an importer leader in the cotton industry, Ydavoy has answered a few questions.
Turning a profit is difficult today, both at the farm and in the retail apparel business, so we all must bring our “A” game as we help ensure the continued health and success of the cotton industry.”
Q: Why is it important for you to serve on The Cotton Board?
I have served on The Cotton Board since 2004, and I have seen it evolve into a collaborative entity that is focused on continuous improvement and increasing demand. Turning a profit is difficult today, both at the farm and in the retail apparel business, so we all must bring our “A” game as we help ensure the continued health and success of the cotton industry. That is what I see from cotton producers and the research and promotion professionals at every meeting. I try to bring the same level of dedication and initiative. This is an industry full of exceptional people. It is a great time to be a part of the thread that connects cotton from the fiber to the consumer.
Q: You sit on the Ag Research committee for The Cotton Board. What has surprised you most about cotton production?
I love serving on the committee and getting to learn more about a segment of the industry that I am not as familiar with, but that absolutely impacts my business. I am most fascinated by the focused, proactive approach Cotton Incorporated’s team takes to anticipate and get ahead of issues that could impact the productivity and quality of cotton. I am also amazed by the extensive research that supports the economic and scientific advancement in cotton production.
Q: What do you think is The Cotton Research and Promotion Program’s greatest contribution to the industry?
The Cotton Research and Promotion Program has offered so much to the industry by way of Cotton Incorporated. From education for brands and retailers through Cotton University to being pioneers of progress in sustainability issues facing our industry today, Cotton Incorporated has become the industry “go-to” that keeps us abreast of current issues that impact our businesses.
As significant as these issues are, the development of the Seal of Cotton and the long-term positive opinions consumers have for cotton is the greatest contribution.
Q: What makes you so passionate about the cotton industry?
I admire the growers and their commitment to being responsible stewards of the land. I think the importers share that integrity as responsible stewards of the “brand.” At the end of the day, your reputation is all you have, and it’s a precious commodity.
Importers and growers are like bookends managing each end of the process from turn-row to runway. Today, more than ever, there is increased emphasis on tracking and tracing to work backwards from the consumer to the plant. The cotton industry allows us to connect all the dots in a responsible way.
The Cotton Board, which administers Cotton Incorporated’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this article.