As part of our FACES of the South series, where we highlight women making a difference and inspiring us, while living in the South, we are thrilled to welcome Mercedes Cotchery today.
Mercedes has an anointing spirit and a passion for interiors. She owns Design Avenue Home Furnishings in Asheville, North Carolina, and though she and her family live in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mercedes travels to the Asheville store several times a week and offers her home styling consultation services across the state and beyond.
Mercedes works with her clients to create spaces that are reflections of themselves, and she loves helping them turn their houses into homes. As a homeschooling mother of five adopted children, the wife of Carolina Panthers assistant wide receivers coach Jerricho Cotchery, a business owner, and a home stylist, Mercedes is undoubtedly busy and today we find out what makes this hard-working woman tick. Welcome, Mercedes!
How did Design Avenue come to fruition?
My husband retired from his first career at the end of 2015, so after we got accustomed to him not playing football anymore, we considered what we would do, and we thought about owning a business. We knew that although we wanted to be business owners, we didn’t want to start from the ground up. So, we found an acquisitions and mergers firm. They called one day about Design Avenue, and I didn’t really do anything with it. It just so happens that we were on a retreat in Asheville later on, and I randomly remembered that there was this business that was available, and we went and viewed it. We loved everything that we saw, and it gave us a really warm, nostalgic feeling. We didn’t set out to acquire a business in Asheville; we set out to acquire a business that was already thriving on paper.
As a home stylist, what does a typical day look like when you are working on a project?
Right now, I’m working on a home in Arden, NC. Initially, I have a consultation with the client, and I get a feel for the home. Then I spend about a week to get inspired, trying to get a vision for the direction that we’re going to go in. So, the key for this property is that we want to take a great room and split it up into several different seating areas, but each area needs to still have a level of intimacy. I have a background in chemistry, so I approach everything like a science project or research paper. I scour all these different mediums to get inspired. I found the sofa we’re going to put in the room, and now that I have that, I’ll spend the next week or so figuring out all the different pieces that will go in the room, and the next stage will be getting a rendering drawn of it. Styling is something that I just love. I love helping people make their house a home.
What is your dream project?
In the store, we don’t currently offer furnishings for children, but I would love to help children have their dream room or even help a mom create a wonderful nursery for her baby. Another thing that I would like to do is decorate for restaurants. I would love to design dramatic scenes in restaurants and create a great ambiance.
As a mother of five children, how do you juggle being a mom, wife and business owner, as well as homeschooling the kids? What’s the key to your time management?
First, it’s just the grace of God. Then, in that grace, it’s understanding what I need to do to make things work out. I wake up pretty early in the morning so that I can have the capacity to flesh out my thoughts, be fresh and get an idea for what the day is going to look like. Then I prioritize whatever is going on on that particular day. The thing I’ve learned is that whatever I’m doing — if I have a long list of things ahead of me that need to be done, I need to do the first thing, so when I move on to the next thing, I’m free from the first thing. My heart is no longer divided with the task that I left behind me. Then I’m free to do the next thing well and flesh it out.
You’re very vocal about the fact that you adopted your children. What advice would you give someone who’s considering adopting?
Have a firm reason as to why you want to do it. Adoption is a gift, and it is not something that everyone can do. Some people have children through surrogacy, or they need to use IVF, but the key is you have to think of adoption like that — because things are going to come up in your life as you are journeying along with your children. At the heart, love these children as if you’ve given birth to them. It is so beautiful, and it just teaches you so much about life.
Shifting gears, where do you like to hang out in Charlotte?
Wherever there is food — we enjoy restaurants. You might catch me shopping at Capitol, or Traditions Interiors & Accessories, or at Target getting a quick last minute item because someone’s pants are too short.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
Most recently, I was at a banquet and the keynote speaker was saying how she needs to make sure that she takes time to fill her own cup. She didn’t mean it in an arrogant way; she didn’t mean that she wants to take time to make sure that she’s totally taken care of herself. But in an effort to be her best self, in all the different areas where she’s going to be, she needs to take the time to fill herself up every morning. It’s so that as she goes about her day, and she’s pouring a little bit of herself out, she’s got something to give. I enjoyed hearing that.
With the exception of faith, family and friends, what are three things that you cannot live without?
It’s going to be such a boring answer, but there’s nothing else that I can’t live with. I can’t live without the grace of God, so if I have that, then I can live without anything else.
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