Twenty years ago in the small Missouri town of Belle, two women set up shop in an old garage with a sewing machine, table and telephone. Locals were suspicious and had heard “they’re making futons – whatever they are. And two women – what would they be up to?”
Deanna Ridenhour and Mary Lou Rath were up to plenty – forming a partnership from an earlier business relationship where Deanna was sewing futon covers by night and babysitting by day and Mary Lou Rath was running a retail futon business in St. Louis while also in private therapy practice and teaching at Washington University.
Even then they knew they had a unique formula for customer relations, consumer education and quality work.
In the early years, Mary Lou scoured the universe for distinctive fabrics and built a client base while Deanna tailored patterns for futon covers and pillows, sewed and stuffed futons and fixed everything.
Not too much has changed since the early years except today they are shipping products throughout the United States to hundreds of furniture retailers, designers and customers of all ages.
Most important, CottonBelle continues to have great employees who make it all possible. “It takes incredible talent, dedication, decades of experience, and first-rate cutters, seamstresses, futon-, cushion- and pillow-makers, and shippers to meet and often exceed customers’ expectations year after year,” Mary Lou says. And to ensure quality, each employee monitors quality every step of the way.
While most products are now made on assembly lines – most often outside the country – CottonBelle continues to tailor everything by hand in the hilly, Ozarks countryside of Missouri.
CottonBelle is proud that it is one of the largest private employers in Belle, a remote town, when jobs are scarce but talent and pride in workmanship abundant.