Photography by Rachael McInstosh Photography.
For Mercedes Cotchery, moving to North Carolina for her husband’s football career meant the realization of a lifelong career goal of her own. The mother of five embraced her new home state’s leading role in the furniture industry, and in becoming owner of Design Avenue Home Furnishings, achieved her longtime desire to become an entrepreneur. Recently, we sat down with Cotchery to learn more about her, to find out more about her business and her experience as a business owner, and, as we celebrate Black Business Month, to ask her about other Black-owned businesses in her community.
TSG: Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
MC: I am a devoted Christian, wife, mother, and furniture shop keeper. My name, Mercedes, means Our Lady of Mercy, and bestows its honor from the Virgin Mary. In her spirit, I have become a woman of many mercies, and a mother of many children, Jacey (14), Nicholas (11…almost), Joshua (10), Journey (8), and Nile (5…almost)—my name manifesting itself into my destiny. My children mean the world to me, bringing immeasurable joy and invaluable life lessons from our day-to-day experiences together. Every single day I learn something new about the people they’re becoming, about myself, and it encourages my heart to see the world a little brighter.
I am also a wife to former NFL player and coach Jerricho Cotchery. The life of football was an amazing journey, and it’s what brought us to the Queen City. We’ve been privileged to grow in love, grow our family, and grow in the Lord together. The great state of North Carolina has also blessed me with a unique opportunity to own a furniture store.
TSG: Tell us about Design Avenue Home Furnishings.
MC: 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.
In planning a room, we make sure the room is balanced by taking into consideration the dimensions of the room and the locations of the walkways and doorways, and we make sure it functions by talking through how the new furniture will fit your lifestyle. Whether we’re designing a single room or an entire home, we like to make an in-home visit so that we can see the space in person, which allows us to give better design assistance and see the space’s features firsthand. If you have a special piece of art, we need to plan for it; if you have a nice view, we capitalize on it. We specialize in designing your home your way with our expertise and knowledge.
TSG: Why did you start your own business, and what do you love most about being a business owner?
MC: Being an entrepreneur has always been a desire of my heart. Design Avenue Home Furnishings is a dream come true. I am often overwhelmed with joy by this opportunity.
There are so many things that are wonderful about owning my own business:
- Meeting incredible people.
- Being able to set my own schedule so that I can still be available to my family.
- Partnering with clients in their quest to make their house a beautiful home.
- Having someone actually value my opinion.
TSG: What has surprised you the most about being a small business owner?
I was very naive as to the amount of work required to run a successful business.
“As individuals patronize my store, it affords me the opportunity to play a role in stimulating the local economy.”
TSG: Why do you love being a small business owner in your community?
I enjoy having an impact in the local environment where my business dwells. As individuals patronize my store, it affords me the opportunity to play a role in stimulating the local economy and in a small way that adds to the overall economy of our country.
TSG: What are you most proud of as a business owner?
MC: Honestly, I delight in the opportunity to have lived to experience what it is like to be a business owner. I am the first person in my family to own a business. I had no one to glean insights from. It has simply been the grace of God.
TSG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
MC: I know this is trite, but it is true: It takes money to make money. As a new business owner, this is a difficult ideology to undertake, but if you have courage, it will prove itself to be true.
“Overall, I am truly thankful. My business survived during an unprecedented two-month closure. Experiencing this gave me the courage to establish boundaries in my life.”
TSG: Can you describe what the past year and a half has been like from a professional standpoint?
MC: The effects of Covid-19 were seen last year. Sales were down drastically. Thankfully, upon reopening, customers returned. The booming housing market has helped tremendously. Overall, I am truly thankful. My business survived during an unprecedented two-month closure. Experiencing this gave me the courage to establish boundaries in my life. For the first time since owning my business, I went on a week-long vacation. I have even shortened the workday by 30 minutes, and I moved from being open 6 days each week to only 5.
TSG: What’s next for you?
MC: The specifics are a secret, but in general I hope to continue to grow in my knowledge of the furniture industry and find innovative ways to offer world-class customer service.
TSG: Do you have any advice for people who might be interested in increasing their support for Black-owned businesses?
MC: As it relates to supporting Black-owned businesses, my hope is that anyone looking to do business with a person of color would first and foremost respect the business and the entrepreneur’s ability to execute the job with excellence.
TSG: Can you provide a list of Black-owned businesses in your community that readers should know about?
Design Avenue Home Furnishings is featured in The Scout Guide Asheville. Find more information about this and other excellent local businesses and the inspiring people behind them at asheville.thescoutguide.com.