Business owner Tonda Hayworth is a talented creator with a deep love for people. Her passion for artistry combined with her heart for community are part of what makes her store, High Cotton Marketplace, such a success. After catching Tonda for a chat, it is more than clear why Lubbock locals love to frequent this unique shop.
What made you decide to start High Cotton Marketplace?
“My son and his dad own a custom carpentry business called Coker Craftsman. The store was originally started to give them a showroom for their custom furniture. I have a background in floral design, and I thought, well I’ll put some of my things in the store, too. Well, one thing led to another and the busier they got, the less furniture was in the showroom. And then, all of a sudden and we had this store to fill. At the same time, partnerships started to evolve with different local and hand-crafting vendors that I had purchased from for years at places like the farmers market. So, this store went from being a furniture showroom to more of a local artisan setting. Ninety-nine percent of everything in High Cotton Marketplace is made by local artisans.”
What is it that you love about home goods and crafting?
“Well, I started doing weddings when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I was apprenticed to a lady who taught me floral design for weddings and events. Also, making hand-crafted items is something that I always did, and I would say that creating different arrangements is truly my love. That’s basically how this all got started.”
Can you talk more about the classes you offer at High Cotton Marketplace?
“People are always looking for something new to learn. Women, and really everyone nowadays, are looking for ways to improve their home. Everybody is Pinterest-crazy it seems. At High Cotton Marketplace, we want to teach people to take the apprehension out of projects that can actually be relatively simple. We show people how to do these projects without spending an arm and a leg. Most of the crafts we teach can be done creatively and effectively and allow you to add your own touch.
We’ll be offering bow making classes for the holidays which will show how to make several types of bows and the different materials you can use. We’ll also do classes on floral design. We recently started carrying a lot of chalk and mineral paint, so we’ll have some paint project classes. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, we’ll offer some tablescape demonstrations to get people ready for the holidays. We try to give practical classes so that people can then turn around and actually use what they’re making. We don’t want you to make a project and then just stick it in the garage.
We also want to give people an opportunity to get out and socialize. I think in our world today, everyone’s schedules are so crazy. We don’t get to sit and visit as much, and for the southern gal in me that’s definitely huge. I want people to come in and just socialize in a safe and comfortable environment.”
High Cotton Marketplace Class Schedule
Nov. 6th: Hanging Pinecone
Nov. 9th: Greenery & Pinecone Wreath
Nov. 12th: Bows
Nov. 18th: Thanksgiving & Christmas Tablescapes
What have been some of your highlights over the years?
“I am one of the co-founders of Chicago Station Market Days. It’s a completely local food and artisan market out here in Lubbock. One of my highlights as a businesswoman has been seeing that initiative come to fruition and seeing the way it is benefiting our economy. I’ve also loved watching how God is using our store as a jumping off point for some really talented folks. Some of these people don’t have an opportunity to be seen, but now we have a storefront where others can find them and their work. That’s a big highlight for me.
One other big moment for me was just a few weeks ago when we had our first big event. It was called “Falling Into High Cotton” for the fall season. This was a one-day event, and it was a huge success. So many people came out, and there was the humbling realization that these people came specifically to be at our store and see these vendors. That was a big highlight for me personally.”
Have you had any special interactions with customers that stand out to you?
“I will preface this by saying that I never apologize for my faith. I’ve never hid my faith from our business or our customers. One time in particular I had a market day and near the end of the day a lady came through and I discovered she had just lost a spouse. She felt very comfortable in our store, and she hung out for a bit. We all got to visit with her, and I ended up getting to pray with her here in our store. We never want to push anything down anyone’s throat, but the fact that we get to share our faith and just give folks the opportunity to come in and feel welcome is so special. Her experience stood out to me because she left here with a humongous smile on her face, and she ended up bringing me these antique spindles later that afternoon and said, ‘I really want you to have these. I think there’s something you can do with them.’ That was kind of neat.
As a shop owner, I want our business to not only be a place where people come in and shop, but also I want it to be an experience. I want people to come in and feel like they’ve come out to the country a little bit. It’s an experience here, and it’s a place people want to come back to. You sometimes only have one shot to make someone’s day, and to me that’s part of this business.”
What do you love about being a business in Lubbock?
“I love the fact that Lubbock is so receptive of local shops. I lived in Georgia for a few years, so Georgia is home for me, but Lubbock is home for me as well. Lubbock is larger than the town I lived in in Georgia, but I love that Lubbock is welcoming and very responsive. It’s such a transient area because of our college and medical school, but people just seem so excited to purchase local. I think it’s nice for me to hear on numerous occasions how people seek out local places to spend their dollars. That’s part of why I’m so excited to team up with Towny. Towny is the perfect fit for my business because of how important local is to me. As Lubbock continues to grow, I’m seeing that there are several areas of Lubbock that all have the same type of love for the local community, and I’m so happy to be a part of that.”
Is there anything else people should know about High Cotton Marketplace?
“I’m part of a business forum and recently someone asked me, Tonda, what is your philosophy on customer service? And this is my absolute motto: ‘customer service equals hospitality.’ I want to welcome people into my store just like I would in my home. I want to absolutely lay out the red carpet so people feel that hospitality when they walk in our store. Our motto for the store is ‘quality goods and unique finds made by local folks.’ That sums up our store in a nutshell.”
You can find High Cotton Marketplace on Towny – the free app making it easy to choose local. To build a robust Lubbock economy, support your neighbors, and get rewarded for doing so, download Towny today!