Ashley Hotham Cox, the newly appointed editor in chief of Home Design & Decor, is a longtime Charlotte local—but with a twist. The North Carolina native graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in fashion and a master’s in journalism before earning experience as a writer at Charlotte, Charlotte Wedding and Charlotte Home + Garden magazines, and as associate market editor at Traditional Home in New York. She’s also a designer, having earned her certificate in interior design from the Parsons School of Design. She returned home in 2016, joining the team of Home Design & Decor.
This means that Hotham Cox is uniquely qualified to speak to the area’s design scene. “Both Charlotte and The Triangle [region] are hotbeds for design made up of a collective culture where artists, designers, retailers, showrooms, gallerists and more collaborate to build upon one another’s creative powers,” she explains. “North Carolina is bustling with ingenuity and talent that extends over a broad spectrum of style and background—from rising stars to seasoned veterans. My vision is to build upon [my predecessor's] success by fostering the creative genius that resides within the Queen City and Triangle through the pages of our magazine—each respective city’s premier guide to home furnishings and luxury lifestyle.”
The area is known for collaboration. “The word collaborative is the first thing that comes to mind when trying to define the region’s design landscape,” says Hotham Cox. “There’s a proliferation of talent in the area and it seems to me that it keeps growing bolder and brighter—artists, designers, artisans, stylists and retailers team together to build each other up and support each other’s efforts rather than compete with one another. Everyone has their own niche and they find ways to bolster each other’s powers and talents through partnerships like trunk shows, pop-up shops, dinner series, exhibitions and more. It’s this beautiful collective culture that I find so inspiring.”
Will her day-to-day role—or the focus of the magazine, for that matter—change? She tells EAL, “In some ways, not at all, and in other ways, completely. Before, I was focused on scouting for product and story ideas for the upcoming issue. With the new role, I am now more hands-on, engaged in more facets of the magazine. Every day, I’m running all over town talking with designers, gallerists, artists, sales reps, publicists and so on in search of homes to feature, stories to tell and products to showcase. I’m now thinking of the entire editorial calendar year rather than just the next issue. I don’t ever feel like I’m finished for the day. There is always more to be done, which makes the job tremendously exciting!”
In a hyper-local world, Hotham Cox is maintaining a focus on both the regional and the national. “Focusing on local will always remain a priority. However, the talent that we have here extends beyond city limits and is really on a broader stage. Designers like Lisa Mende, MA Allen, Barrie Benson, Heather Garrett, and Lucy and Company, as well as brands such as Circa have garnered national attention, which in effect has brought a spotlight to North Carolina’s design scene. We’re not a few small towns with a handful of creatives. We’re a region brimming with genius and flair that resonates with design lovers across the country. Therefore, my focus is to drive HDD into becoming the premier shelter publication that North Carolina deserves and has earned.”