Colored cotton agriculture began
around 2700 B.C. in Indo-Pakistan, Egypt and Peru. It was then common for
cotton to grow in a variety of natural colors: mocha, tan, gray, and red-brown.
The industrial revolution brought
us industrial cotton looms. Short-fibered colored cotton was replaced by
long-fibered all white cotton that processed better in the industrial looms.
The natural-colored varieties grew almost extinct, until Sally Fox rediscovered
a small amount of brown cotton seeds in 1982. Fox began to research creating
a commercially viable long-fibered colored cotton (better for the looms
of today). The invention was called FoxFibre, a strong long-fibered colored
The Peace Corps
sent Sally Fox to the Gambia in West Africa. There she observed the extensive
misuse of pesticides which magnified her concern for the environment, encouraging
her to develop safer methods of pest management. After returning home,
Sally Fox entered a graduate program at the University of California, and,
in 1982, received her Masters degree in Integrated Pest Management.
Sally Fox was
introduced to colored cotton while working for a cotton breeder, whose
focus was developing pest-resistant strains of cotton. The peoples of Central
and South America had spun these strains for centuries, but the fiber qualities
were not sufficient for modern machine spinning. Here was Sally Foxs opportunity
to combine her concern for the environment, work in her field of entomology,
and practice her favorite pastime, spinning and weaving.
Sally Fox took
on the challenge of improving an ancient agricultural art. Fox successfully
bred and marketed varieties of naturally coloured cotton she calls FoxFiber
®. In 1989, she opened Natural Cotton Colours, Inc. Today, Sally Fox
designs fabrics with her cotton and continues research.
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