Photo by Marc Banks Photo, Flickr

The title is self-appointed. Several years ago, Redd heard about an alligator buyer from Italy working in Florida and calling himself the King. This was annoying. For one thing, there are no alligators in Italy. Live ones, anyway. More importantly, royalty is demonstrated by blood line, and nobody in the world can lay claim to one more established than Redd’s, whose great-grand­father founded the family business almost a century ago in Blairsville, whose grandfather served time in prison for illegally selling alligator skins in the 1970s, and whose father did too, for that matter. American Tanning is the oldest and largest alligator tannery in the country—and one of the only major ones in the world. Alligator mississippiensis, the American alligator, has been establishing its foothold in what is now the southern United States—its sole habitat—for 180 million years. The Plotts’ regional lineage may stretch back a mere 200 or so, but in any case, what family’s fortune has been entwined with the alligator’s for longer than theirs? Certainly no Italian arriviste’s.

Mary Logan Bikoff profiling Christy Plott Redd for Atlanta Magazine. Redd is co-owner and creative director of America’s largest alligator leather tannery.

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