Homegrown & Handcrafted
Kessler Patillo

Nearly a decade of moving with the Army instilled a strong appreciation for sense of place for Dothan, Alabama, natives Will and Sydney Hewitt. “Everywhere we went, it kind of became home, and we could tell with our friends, it was the same for them,” Sydney explains. “No matter where you are, people love where they’ve come from, where they’ve gone to school, where they’ve raised their children, where they’ve retired—they’re proud of that place. We always wanted a piece of every place we went and wanted a way to remember it.”

A graphic designer with her own stationary line at the time, Sydney had a knack for hand-drawing designs, and began looking for a new medium that would allow her to capture love of place. Hand towels seemed like a natural fit. “My husband and I cook a lot,” she tells. “We remembered from our mothers’ houses the nice towels that were for display, but not to use. Will and I were like, ‘why can’t you have a really nice, good-looking hand towel that you can use, that is functional and has meaning behind it?” Then living in Destin, Florida, they conceptualized Coast and Cotton—a line of hand towels as useable as they are display-worthy, named to reflect the Hewitts’ love for the sea and their focus on high-quality, super-absorbent cotton material.

Sydney started with state-themed, hand-drawn designs, outsourcing the printing and selling her works in local stores around the Wiregrass. The business continued to grow when the Hewitts moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Will transitioned from the military into a corporate job. When Sydney took her products to America’s Mart in an effort to sell the towels in a wider range of retail stores, business exploded, and Will decided to quit his job and join Sydney to pursue Coast and Cotton full time. They moved their printing in house, with Will heading up that leg of the process and managing operations.

The couple relocated the business home to Dothan earlier this year. “We prayed about where would support us, for our children, to grow this—and our friends and family are here,” Sydney says. “We didn’t think when we moved to Atlanta that this would even be an option to do this here. Being back home—it just felt right.”

                  A lot has happened in the two years since the business started. In addition to local stores across the United States, Coast and Cotton is carried in Nordstrom and L.L. Bean, and they’ve gotten national attention on NBC’s TODAY show and in Cooking Light Magazine. The Hewitts have recently expanded their line to include recipe cards, and have plans to add aprons and pillows. “It was a huge move on faith to do this whole business,” Sydney says. “We are thankful it has come this far.”

And despite the company’s growth, for the Hewitts, it is still about who they are and where they came from—their shared love for family, food and place. “The main thing Will and I both love about cooking is we do it together; it is kind of our time to unwind and create something together. Now that we have kids, it is something we love doing for them and with them. It is kind of our family activity. We both have moms that were and are in the kitchen all the time. That is how we were raised, and we want that for ....  [subscribe to read full article and see more photos]