Having moved to North Carolina for her husband’s football career meant the realization of a lifelong career goal for Mercedes Cotchery. In becoming owner of Design Avenue Home Furnishings, the mother of five fulfilled a longtime dream of becoming an entrepreneur in her new home state. And here’s how it all began.
"As a child, my first time decorating took place when I was in the 5th or 6th grade. My mom, sister, and I moved into a new home. To adorn our new humble space, we ventured to Heilig-Meyers. 'Heilig-Meyers' was a retail furniture company founded in 1913 by two Lithuanian immigrants, W.A Heilig and J.M Meyers, based in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Richmond, Virginia, was home to the company’s headquarters.
"With more than 1,000 stores nationwide (including Puerto Rico), the chain became the largest furniture retailer in the United States in the 1990’s. After our visit to Heilig-Meyers, my bedroom was decorated to perfection. As a matter of fact, my sister who was six years older, cunningly convinced me to swap rooms with her.
"My mom saved enough money to furnish our living room and dining room after everyone’s rooms were decorated, so we made our way back to Heilig-Meyers. I spotted the pieces that would perfectly decorate our living room in a matter of seconds. As a result of my suggestions, my mom purchased the items.
"In 2015, as a loving wife and mother, I agreed to return to North Carolina full-time. My husband had a great desire to domicile in this beautiful state. North Carolina is where my husband and I met and it is where my roots lie. This return home for our family has blessed each of us with fullness and bountifulness we had not ever dreamed of. Our church home is wonderful, and my husband even experienced playing in Super Bowl 50.
"Throughout my childhood and adolescence, not once did I perceive my novice hobby of home styling as a gift. Decorating was a natural part of my make-up. It was an extension of me. So much so, that I couldn't distinguish it from my psyche. Thus, I never thought anything of it.
"Flash forward to 2018, my husband had retired from playing in the NFL. After a year of being at home with the kids and me, he decided we should try our hand at entrepreneurship. I had personally aspired to own a business for as long as I could remember. Thus, his thoughts were pleasing to me. Well, what do you know! North Carolina is known as the furniture capital of the world, and somehow we found ourselves owning a boutique furniture store in Asheville, NC.
"My husband and I purchased Design Avenue from a wonderful lady. She played a vital role in igniting my start in the furniture industry. Long before she and I met, she was unknowingly carving and grooming her protégé. Beyond giving me the opportunity to realize my dream of owning a business, the first owner of Design Avenue was married to the gentleman who made all of the furniture for Heilig-Meyers! What a full circle moment this all has been for me.
"Today, I delight in the opportunity to experience what it is like to own a business. With no one to glean insights from, I am the first and only entrepreneur in my family.
"I believe in pollinating the world with beauty, and Design Avenue is my way of doing that. The shop boasts a 5,000-square-foot showroom and offers a place to experience the comfort and see firsthand the quality of each piece. There, you can visualize your home, your style, your way.”