Missouri State University
Heather Cotter

Heather Cotter

  • Ashley Furniture Director of Merchandising
  • Springfield and Joplin, Missouri
  • B.S., Interior Design, ’06

Alumna designed spaces for her alma mater that are used daily by faculty, students, staff and friends of Missouri State University.

Young designer’s talents feature passion for texture and trends

Heather Cotter’s boss has to tell her to slow down.

Even while pregnant with her first child, Ashlyn Rae, Cotter kept the pace of a very busy interior designer; visiting markets throughout the United States, staging Springfield’s St. Jude Home and designing the showroom of Ashley Furniture.

Cotter, who graduated from Missouri State University’s fashion and interior design program in 2006, is the director of merchandising for Ashley Furniture in Springfield and Joplin. As a student, Cotter’s original focus was studying painting on scholarship. She also worked full-time in retail sales.

Cotter noted that her professors made a significant impact on her future. Speifically, Professor Jeannie Ireland, who recently retired, regularly challenged her.

“Professor Ireland helped make it real,” Cotter said. “She brought real world challenges to us. She was one of the most driven individuals who helped me develop the passion I have in my career.”

And it’s that passion for texture and trends in interior design which made her stand out to Ashley Furniture owner Andrew Covington.

When Cotter learned that Ashley Furniture would open in Springfield, Cotter jumped at the chance to work with the company.

“I had the job before the facility was even built,” Cotter said. She trained in Memphis and transitioned to the Springfield store once construction was complete. Cotter became the store’s first on-floor designer and was promoted to director of merchandising in January 2009. She will manage additional stores as the company grows into neighboring states.

“Heather’s fantastic,” Covington said. “Her design skills far exceed many who’ve been in the business for years. She has a burning desire to win, has a good eye and great talent.”


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